Prince Charles reading the Queen
Prince Charles reading the Queen's speech.

The Queen’s speech today was delivered by Prince Charles because she is experiencing mobility problems. This is the first State Opening of Parliament she has missed since 1964 and she has only ever missed two in her long reign. I know the country wishes her a speedy recovering and we all look forward to celebrating her Platinum Jubilee in June.

But whilst the speech was delivered by Prince Charles, the content is the Tory government’s work, setting out their plans for legislation this Parliament. And what a poor offering it is.

Rising energy bills, fuel and food costs are pushing millions into real hardship. Yet you wouldn’t think it from this government’s new programme, announced in the Queen’s Speech today.

More than 1 in 7 families are skipping meals as a result of the rising cost of food and energy. Millions of people, from young parents to pensioners, are now really struggling to heat their homes or buy enough food to eat.

Times are tough but they don’t need to be this tough if the government would only listen to what people are saying up and down the country. Sadly, government ministers seem to be living in a different country from the rest of us. How else could you explain their programme that included 38 new laws but nothing to help people facing immediate hardship?

We’ve had fifteen Tory tax rises in the last two years. We have stagnant economic growth and prices rising rapidly with inflation set to reach 10% soon.

Twelve years of Tory government have run our economy into the ground.

We need an emergency budget now.

Labour would soften the blow from high energy prices by taxing eye-watering oil and gas profits. We would insulate many more homes to make them more energy efficient. We would also scrap the National Insurance increase.

Our emergency budget would also include a business rates discount for small and medium-sized businesses, paid for by taxing online giants. And we would allow the National Crime Agency to pursue £12 billion lost to fraud and error.

It was not just the cost of living that was missing from the Queen’s speech. There were many other things that should have gone into this programme.

This Queen’s speech had nothing to improve rights for working people, despite previous Tory promises of an Employment Bill ending exploitative practices.

Rape prosecutions have fallen by 70% over the last four years. But there was no promised Victims’ Bill and nothing to tackle this shameful collapse in rape prosecutions.

And there was nothing on the environment and only a passing mention of climate change, despite the increasingly desperate warnings from scientists. The Tories have completely abandoned nature with no legislation to protect and enhance the natural environment. Nothing on tackling air quality, waste or legislating on tackling sewage.


After the speech, I was interviewed on BBC2’s Politics Live, LBC and BBC Radio 4’s World At One.

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