A Liberal Revolution In Britain
Julian Glover reviews the Queen's Speech setting out the Coalition's legislative agenda:
Compare this year's speech to Labour's, last autumn. The old speech set the state as the protector of the individual. There were promises to stimulate growth, extend training and strengthen services. The message was that government existed to do good.
Today's speech was the philosophical opposite: the emphasis was on individual rights and duties, paring back regulation and laws. This was a speech written by a government that does not trust its own strength and, as such, it did justice to the promises set out by the coalition.
What stands out most of all is the size of the ambition: 22 bills, most of them big, most of them potential flashpoints with public service workers, or unions, or inside the coalition.
Parliament will have to sweat this summer to pass them, even with a House of Lords that is well-disposed to much of this agenda. And this, too, is what the coalition promised.
There was a point, long ago it seems now, when it was hard to take seriously David Cameron's claim to be a liberal progressive. There was a point, just a fortnight ago, when a Tory deal with the Lib Dems was implausible. But this speech is the synthesis of those two things. It will bring a liberal revolution.