Tag Archives: Queen’s speech

Boris Johnson is a liar – according to the BBC, after it fact-checked his interview

Boris Johnson: The lies keep coming.

Boris Johnson – what a miserable, fake excuse for a politician!

First he ducked out of the interview he had promised the BBC, after he saw Andrew Neil pressing Jeremy Corbyn hard (but not too hard for the Labour leader, who remained calm and clear throughout).

Then he used the atrocity of the terror attack on London Bridge to press the Corporation into allowing him to be interviewed, not by Andrew Neil but by Andrew Marr – and for 15 minutes, not 30.

That interview was broadcast on Sunday (December 1) – and Johnson lied through his teeth from start to finish.

How do I know? Simple.

The BBC fact-checked it.

Here are some highlights:

1. Mr Johnson said his government is putting £160 million of extra money into counter-terrorist policing – but in fact it had promised only to increase funding in line with inflation. The £160 million was the difference between spending plans announced in 2015 and the figure eventually spent in 2019-20. Lie.

2. Mr Johnson claimed Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn had said he would disband MI5 – but there is no evidence to support it. Lie.

3. Mr Johnson said the Queen’s Speech – the programme for the new Parliamentary session he had demanded – had been blocked by Parliament. In fact it had been passed, on October 24 – by 16 votes. Lie.

4. Mr Johnson said his government was already considering ending the policy of automatic early release for serious and violent offenders – but the ‘Sentencing Bill’ in the Queen’s Speech would have only changed the automatic release point from halfway to two-thirds of the way through a sentence. Offenders considered “dangerous” are already not considered for release until they have served two-thirds of their sentences. Lie.

5. Mr Johnson said his government would make the largest investment in the NHS in modern memory – but the £34 billion he quoted, in real terms, came to 3.2 per cent per year, only slightly more than half the six per cent average achieved by Labour governments between 1997 and 2010. Lie.

Source: General Election 2019: Boris Johnson’s interview with Andrew Marr fact-checked – BBC News

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Prorogation: Has Johnson even bothered to ask the Queen if she’ll allow it?

It’s “duper’s delight” yet again: It seems Boris Johnson thinks he can fool the Queen into giving him a free Party Election Broadcast. Wouldn’t she rather get her reserve powers out and sack him, instead?

Boris Johnson is planning to prorogue Parliament again next week, according to the political correspondents on the mainstream news. But they’ve been very quiet about whether the Queen will let him.

I made the point a couple of days ago that he brought exactly no new policies to the Conservative conference, yet now he is saying he wants to shut down Parliament for a further three debating days – on top of the 10 or more that were lost in the illegal prorogation – and re-open it with a Queen’s Speech detailing a new legislative programme. Is he delusional?

Private Eye certainly seems to believe Her Majesty is likely to cast a jaundiced eye over any future proposals from the man we call BoJob.

According to Beastrabban, “The magazine’s ‘Court Circular’ … covers the fall-out from Lady Hale’s judgement, including the Queen’s immense displeasure at hearing that the judges concluded that sovereignty lay with parliament and the orders written in her own hand were absolutely valueless. But she is also angry with Dictator J. Peasemold Johnson for not defending her in this fiasco. The mag’s correspondent, ‘Flunkey’, writes

“Johnson’s phone call with Brenda later on Judgment Day was similarly perplexing. He had part-blustered, part-charmed Brenda into believing his vision of a prorogational paradise and presented her with legal opinions to back up his case. But lawyers can be found to argue that black is white if someone is paying them to. Brenda bowed to Johnson’s demands because she had no choice. But it is the job of prime ministers to protect a monarch who has no voice, and that is what Johnson failed to do. Worse, he didn’t even try very hard. The palace had assumed that Johnson’s phone call, with officials listening in on both sides, would consist of an apology and a request that she return to London to accept his resignation. But no. Despite briefings to the contrary from Downing Street, Johnson merely told her he “deeply and sincerely” regretted the supreme court’s decision… and that was it.

“Things look set to change now that the Supremes have sung. The palace will not indulge Johnson so readily in future. A normal state opening of parliament this month has been almost impossible: what if Lady Hale and her colleagues were to conclude that the Queen’s Speech, too, was written in invisible ink? Private audiences between Brenda and Johnson may become not so private, with suggestions they should be recorded in some form and stored in the archives just in case. And it is possible that a very reluctant Brenda might be talked into using her untested reserve powers to act in a crisis by dissolving parliament or sacking the prime minister.”

And then there’s this, from The Independent: If a Queen’s Speech is made within weeks of an expected general election, will it not assume the characteristics of a Party Political Broadcast for the Johnson government?

After the prorogation fiasco, Her Majesty is unlikely to take kindly to that!

The article states: “Boris Johnson will be using the Queen ‘to make a Conservative Party political broadcast’ if he launches a new session of parliament just weeks before a general election, a constitutional expert is warning.

“The prime minister is being urged not to ‘further abuse her position’ – after the embarrassment of the Queen’s signature being used to shut down parliament before being declared unlawful by the Supreme Court.

“Mr Johnson’s new plan is to prorogue parliament for just a few days, to allow a Queen’s Speech on 14 October when the monarch will set out his flagship domestic legislation amid huge pomp and ceremony.”

It quotes Professor Robert Hazell of the constitution unit at University College London as follows: “The Queen’s Speech will be not so much the government announcing the legislative programme for the next session, but more of an election manifesto.

“The Queen will have been used to make a Conservative Party political broadcast.

“It would bring more embarrassment to the Queen, dragging her again into political controversy.

“Boris Johnson has already caused the greatest constitutional controversy of her reign; he should not further abuse her position.”

He added something that the rest of us have suspected for some time: “This would be the first Queen’s Speech when the government had no real intention of introducing the bills it had just announced, because it hoped that, within weeks, parliament would be dissolved for an early election.”

So those funding promises on the NHS and all the other services BoJob and his cronies promised to boost really were examples of “duper’s delight” and they had no intention of fulfilling them.

Put it all together and, if I were in the Monarch’s position, I would be very nervous about agreeing to anything this man wants. He has proved himself to be uninterested in preserving the reputation of any of the UK’s constitutional pillars – and there is also a suggestion that his real purpose may be to make money for a shady group of backers at the expense of the entire nation.

Will the Queen really allow herself to be brought down by the antics of this liar?

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When is Labour going to get its act together?

Harriet Harman: Temporary leader; totally inert?

Harriet Harman: Temporary leader; totally inert?

Here’s a short message for members of the Parliamentary Labour Party:

W A K E  U P!

The general election happened nearly three weeks ago. All the other political organisations are getting busy and you lot are all faffing around, staring up each other’s rear ends and mumbling about who you think will be the next leader and deputy leader.

And you know what really hurts? It’s when we see headlines like this:

Nicola Sturgeon attacks UK government’s spending cuts

and this:

Nicola Sturgeon: SNP will work across party lines to keep Human Rights Act

She’s stealing Labour’s thunder and you’re all so dim-witted that you’re letting it happen.

What’s the matter with you?

Don’t try telling me you can’t move forward until you’ve got the new leader because that’s not true. The Labour Party has particular values that it should always keep, no matter who’s in the driving seat (or asleep at the wheel, as is the case at the moment).

Look at this blog’s own article about Labour’s values. The message was that Labour should be the enabling party – offering the best possible choices for the largest possible proportion of the UK’s population. Anything less than that is a betrayal of the party’s ethos.

That’s why Liz Kendall should never be Labour leader, by the way – and why Chuka Umunna couldn’t. She wants private companies in the National Health Service, meaning she supports the postcode lottery that this creates. “Oh, so sorry, sir (or madam)! You want a service that is not provided in your part of the country! Have you considered moving somewhere hugely more expensive?”

That’s just ridiculous, isn’t it?

Look at the headlines quoted above: Sturgeon attacks spending cuts; Sturgeon will work across party lines to keep Human Rights Act.

The Tory spending cuts and the repeal of the Human Rights Act are completely unproblematic as far as the grassroots Labour Party is concerned: We’re against them both.

We want our Parliamentary party to broadcast that opposition loudly and continuously while these matters are up for debate and the vote.

Labour should have attacked Tory spending cuts first; Labour should have been appealing across party lines to maintain the Human Rights Act – that, incidentally, Labour passed into law.

So where are you?

Don’t tell me you’re scared Peter Mandelson or Alan Milburn will come out and berate you, because that’s pathetic. They’re yesterday’s men – more plastic Tories who caused many of the problems with Labour’s appeal today.

Look at all the plans in the Tory manifesto and the Queen’s Speech tomorrow. Labour should oppose most, if not all of them.

So where is the opposition?

Oh, I forgot.

It’s being voiced by Nicola Sturgeon and the SNP.

That’s not good enough.

Labour must get its act together and it needs to happen now. Yesterday would be better.

And for those of you in the PLP who feel this blog is being unfair on Tory policies…

You do not represent Labour values; you are there under false pretences and you should sling your bleedin’ hook.

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Latest privatisation/corruption plan is halted as government reluctantly scraps Land Registry sale

Still in public ownership: According to reports, the sale of the Land Registry has been cancelled.

Still in public ownership: According to reports, the sale of the Land Registry has been cancelled.

A little-known plan to sell off one of the government’s best-performing and self-financing organisations has been scrapped – not because of fears that a new system would be prone to corruption but apparently because it was “too complicated” and would have necessitated “new legislation”.

The change of heart – for whatever reason – has been taken by the PCS Union as a victory for its campaign against the sell-off, which included a two-day strike against the privatisation proposal, which members described as “secret”.

Commentators including Vox Political pointed out that the public consultation process received hardly any publicity at all and was closed before most of us even knew it had taken place.

Among the Land Registry’s many functions are quasi-judicial decisions on ownership and transfers, granting title and, crucially, guaranteeing legal rights on behalf of the state. This is not just of fundamental importance to homeowners, but an essential feature of our economy. The backbone of the system is its freedom from outside influence and commercial interest,” the article stated.

In its article on the subject earlier this month, Vox Political warned that, clearly, privatisation would put the Land Registry entirely under threat of outside influence and dominated by commercial interest.

It quoted a report in The Guardian stating: “The agency is also currently bound by government policy on procurement, designed to assist small and medium-sized businesses to compete against the oligopoly of large suppliers. But BIS [The Department of Business, Innovation and Skills] has identified this as a problem, claiming greater flexibility in the private sector to buy goods and services. In a truly astonishing move, a government agency faces being changed into a commercial company so it can avoid the very controls the government brought in to protect small businesses.”

The article also warned of “massive job losses and office closures” and said the government had “flatly refused” to publish and fully consult on these plans.

And the plot thickened considerably when it was revealed that the Infrastructure Bill announced in the Queen’s Speech would transfer responsibility for the local land charges register to the national Land Registry – away from local councils. This means it would profit from the sale of the information – while councils fear they would still have to employ staff to do the work.

All in all, the sale was shaping up into a plan to put big business – the ‘This is Money’ article suggested private equity firms and outsourcing companies – in control of a system that had been freed of any obligation towards small and medium-sized businesses, and whose work would be done by local authorities – at a cost to the council, not the Land Registry.

For any new shareholder, it would have been a licence to print money.

The PCS has already declared its delight that the sell-off has been called off. A statement released yesterday (June 29) reads: “This would be a victory for the thousands of Land Registry staff who campaigned with industry professionals against the plans, and very welcome news for millions of people who rely on it to provide a reliable, impartial and hugely important public service.

“We want the Land Registry to work with us on our proposals to strengthen the agency in future, but serious questions must be asked of senior officials and ministers who tried to push through what would have been a very damaging and totally unnecessary sell-off.”

Indeed. First among these would be: Who paid them to do it?

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Did the Tories tell anyone at all they were privatising the Land Registry?

140610LandRegistry

Did you know about this?

According to a petition on the 38 Degrees website, the government closed – closed – a public consultation on proposals to privatise the 152-year-old Land Registry on March 20 this year.

“There has been no publicity or attempt to inform the public of this radical change to an organisation that is vital to the UK property market,” the text of the petition states.

While this is not strictly true, it would be accurate to say that the plan has not been well-publicised. Not at all.

The government put out a press release on January 23, saying a consultation was taking place on plans “to help Land Registry deliver more efficient and modern services”. That’s no way to announce a privatisation – and the plan to create a private company was only revealed several paragraphs into the text.

Why is this important?

Well, the Land Registry is one of the largest property databases in Europe, guaranteeing title to registered estates and interests in land, recording the ownership rights of freehold properties and leasehold properties where the lease has been granted for longer than seven years.

It is self-financing; its income generated by registration and search fees. You pay to access certain information.

Last month, 3,000 PCS Union members went on a two-day strike over the “secret” privatisation proposal. A report in The Guardian said the government had failed to explain what problem is was trying to fix, or what benefits would be gained by privatisation.

“Key among the organisation’s many functions are quasi-judicial decisions on ownership and transfers, granting title and, crucially, guaranteeing legal rights on behalf of the state. This is not just of fundamental importance to homeowners, but an essential feature of our economy. The backbone of the system is its freedom from outside influence and commercial interest,” the article stated.

Clearly, privatisation would put the Land Registry entirely under threat of outside influence and dominated by commercial interest.

Also: “The agency is also currently bound by government policy on procurement, designed to assist small and medium-sized businesses to compete against the oligopoly of large suppliers. But BIS [The Department of Business, Innovation and Skills] has identified this as a problem, claiming greater flexibility in the private sector to buy goods and services. In a truly astonishing move, a government agency faces being changed into a commercial company so it can avoid the very controls the government brought in to protect small businesses.”

The article also warned of “massive job losses and office closures” and said the government had “flatly refused” to publish and fully consult on these plans.

Prepare for a thickening of the plot: The Infrastructure Bill announced in the Queen’s Speech last week would transfer responsibility for the local land charges register to the national Land Registry – away from local councils. This means it would profit from the sale of the information – while councils fear they would still have to employ staff to do the work.

The petition states that “another consultation on giving the Land Registry wider powers in the control of data essential to the sale and purchase of property closed earlier with the majority of the public not being aware if it’s existence.”

It seems our attention is being directed away from another Tory-led plan to sell one of our best-performing and most efficient public services off to create more profit for private business – most notably big business, at the expense of small and medium-sized enterprises – while forcing the public sector to do all the work for nothing.

It isn’t too late to register your disgust at this proposal. Sign the petition right now.

And for goodness’ sake, tell everyone you know.

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Voters of Newark, what were you thinking?

The result: The Tory who won is so unremarkable that I've forgotten his name. More interesting is the chap in the big hat behind him; at first I thought he was the Monster Raving Loony candidate, but it seems more likely he's one of the voters.

The result: The Tory who won is so unremarkable that I’ve forgotten his name. More interesting is the chap in the big hat behind him; at first I thought he was the Monster Raving Loony candidate, but it seems more likely he’s one of the voters.

One has to ask what is wrong with the people of a Parliamentary constituency when, after four years of a desperately inept and corrupt Conservative-led government, they decide to elect another Tory as their representative in a by-election.

Which of the government’s policies clinched it for you, Newark? Was it the brutality inflicted on people who are out of work – particularly those with long-term illnesses and disabilities? Does the fact that people are being driven to suicide at an almost-hourly rate turn you on?

Was it the determination to push your wages down in order to inflate bosses’ and shareholders’ salaries, forcing a higher take-up of taxpayer-funded in-work benefits? Do you like paying high taxes to support the very, very rich?

Was it perhaps the ongoing privatisation of the NHS? Do you think that’s healthy for the people of Britain? Perhaps rickets hasn’t yet reappeared in your constituency but it’s just a matter of time. Are you looking forward to getting tuberculosis?

Maybe you are looking forward to the government’s Legal Aid changes that will put innocent people in jail and leave criminals free to roam your streets and victimise you any way they want?

Or do you really want a Conservative majority in Parliament so they can push through their long-cherished dream of taking away your human rights? Is that what you want?

That’s what your votes supported!

Worse still, you put UKIP in second place. UKIP! The party that, besides supporting the destruction of the NHS (you’ve come out very strongly for private healthcare, Newark, I hope you know that) wants to put your taxes up (although they’re trying to hide that now because people found out and didn’t like it), and supports marital rape.

Way to go, Newark.

At least you had the good sense to kick the Liberal Democrats down to sixth place and the loss of their deposit – but that just means you’re schizoid, Newark! You reward the Conservatives for policies that are a hazard to your health, and punish their coalition partners for the same reasons!

Way to go, Newark.

It should be noted that turnout was just 52.67 per cent. Presumably the other 47.33 per cent are the “disenchanted” voters of whom Ed Miliband spoke so eloquently in his response to the Queen’s Speech (did you hear the Queen’s Speech, Newark? She listed 11 more-or-less pointless bills put forward by a zombie Parliament – which you have supported).

Let us hope those 34,779 lost voters can be persuaded to re-engage with democracy in time for next year’s general election, and restore sanity to your constituency.

Now go away, Newark.

You really don’t deserve all this attention.

(The latest Vox Political book collection – Health Warning: Government! – is now available. It is a cracking read and fantastic value for money. Only available via the Internet, it may be purchased here in print and eBook form, along with the previous VP release, Strong Words and Hard Times.

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At last the crisis of British democracy is addressed by a party leader: ED MILIBAND

Champion of democracy: Ed Miliband told the country he wants Parliament to provide what the people want, signalling a return to the principles of democratic government that have been abandoned by the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats.

Champion of democracy: Ed Miliband told the country he wants Parliament to provide what the people want, signalling that Labour plans to return to the principles of democratic government that have been abandoned by the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats.

Hopefully the naysayers among Vox Political‘s readership will have a little more respect for Mr Miliband after today.

He is the first – and so far, the only – leader of a mainstream British political party to have correctly identified the biggest problem facing our democracy at this time:

The fact that people aren’t bothering to vote.

Here’s what he said, in his response to the Queen’s Speech:

“The custom of these debates is to address our opponents across the despatch box in this House, but today on its own that would be inadequate to the challenge we face.

“There is an even bigger opponent to address in this Queen’s Speech debate – the belief among many members of the public that this House cannot achieve anything at all. Any party in it.

“About 10 per cent of people entitled to vote, voted for UKIP in the recent elections. But – as significant – over 60 per cent did not vote at all.

“And whatever side we sit on, we will all have heard it on the doorstep: ‘You’re all the same, you’re in it for yourself, it doesn’t matter who I vote for.’

“Of course, that’s not new, but there is a depth and a scale of disenchantment which we ignore at our peril – disenchantment that goes beyond one party, beyond one government.

There is no bigger issue for our country and our democracy.

“So, the test for this legislative programme, the last before the general election, is to show that it responds – to the scale of the discontent and the need for answers.

“In this election, we heard concerns about the way the EU works and the need for reform. We heard deep-rooted concerns about immigration and the need to make changes. But I believe there is an even deeper reason for this discontent.

“Fundamentally, too many people in our country feel Britain doesn’t work for them and hasn’t done so for a long time:

“In the jobs they do and whether their hard work is rewarded.

“In the prospects for their children and whether they will lead a better life than their parents, including whether they will be able to afford a home of their own.

“And in the pressures communities face.

“Above all, whether the work and effort people put in is reflected in them sharing fairly in the wealth of this country.

“The Governor of the Bank of England gave a remarkable speech last week saying inequality was now one of the biggest challenges in our country. We should all be judged on how we respond to this question, right as well as left.

“There are measures we support in this Queen’s Speech including tackling modern slavery, an Ombudsman for our Armed Forces and recall.

“But the big question for this Queen’s Speech is whether it just offers more of the same or whether it offers a new direction, so we can genuinely say it works for all and not just a few at the top.”

Yes – exactly. Yes!

Within the last couple of days, I was saying on the Vox Facebook page that Labour needs to recognise the threat posed by UKIP in the context of disenchantment with democracy: With so few people voting, the door is thrown open to loony extremist right-wing parties.

The only solution is for the mainstream parties to ensure they know exactly what the people will support and offer the electorate what we want, rather than what they want to push on us.

With this speech, Mr Miliband has made it clear that he gets it, and that he is listening.

As the only leader who does – and is – this should put him well ahead by next May.

All he has to do is deliver what he has promised.

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Don’t make a cuppa during the Queen’s Speech – you might miss it!

Frack Cameron: In advance of a new bill to allow fracking under private homes, Greenpeace did this to David Cameron's Chipping Norton home. Fair comment?

Frack Cameron: In advance of a new bill to allow fracking under private homes, Greenpeace did this to David Cameron’s Chipping Norton home. Fair comment?

Picture the scene if you can: Buckingham Palace. Her Majesty is seated, getting on with monarchical business. A staff member knocks and enters with an envelope from Downing Street, containing the proposed text of the Queen’s Speech, which is swiftly opened.

HM takes out a single piece of paper, scans it, turns it over (the back is blank). She speaks:

“Is this it?”

Yup. We could well be about to hear the shortest Queen’s Speech in the history of broadcasting. The evening news bulletins will probably be able to broadcast it in its entirety, instead of the usual excerpts.

Only 11 new bills are to go before Parliament. They involve:

  • Plans to change the pension system (again), split among two bills – look out, pensioners!
  • A bill to make it easier for companies to frack for gas under private property – look out, homeowners!
  • Measures to implement a promise to provide up to £2,000 worth of free childcare – probably not enough.
  • A proposed right for voters to recall their MP – to be judged by other MPs if the rumours are correct. Corruption?
  • The outlawing of “modern slavery” – except, one presumes, that enshrined in law by this government’s own Mandatory Work Activity schemes.
  • Powers to tackle lawyers and other professionals who help criminal gangs – clearly, in this world of government-aided tax evasion (for example), they are helping the wrong criminal gangs.
  • Measures to tackle the abuse of zero-hours contracts – one can’t help feeling that the Tories were shamed into this one by bad publicity.
  • Legal protection for people carrying out “good deeds” such as volunteering or planning local events, who become involved in liability claims. Can you spot the opportunities for corruption in this?
  • The curb on public sector employees claiming huge redundancy payments and then taking new jobs in the same sector, that was mentioned on this blog recently.
  • Help for pub landlords.
  • And a plan to charge 5p for plastic bags in England – copying a successful scheme in Wales. Doesn’t this government mock Wales as a failure? Why, then, is it copying Wales?

Six more bills have been carried over from the last Parliamentary session – which wasn’t exactly brimming with work either.

Considering the scale of the problems facing the UK – many of which have arisen because of Coalition government policies – it is a hopelessly inadequate programme of government.

David Cameron and Nick (who?) Clegg have claimed it shows the government is still capable of “taking bold steps”. Baby steps, more like!

Angela Eagle, Labour’s shadow leader of the House of Commons, responded: “Just because the government announced it’s a bold programme, that does not mean actually that it is.”

What do you think? Do you think the bills listed above with do anything to solve Britain’s biggest problems?

I don’t.

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No need for Ballsbornism, or: Who’s afraid of the big bad spending review?

Don't be complacent: It may seem as though the Coalition government that has blighted the UK for the past three years is marching willingly to its own demise - but that is by no means certain. We must all be vigilant against the apathy that allows them to spread their poisonous views and convince impressionable people that they are speaking common sense ideas that are held by the majority.

Don’t be complacent: It may seem as though the Coalition government that has blighted the UK for the past three years is marching willingly to its own demise – but that is by no means certain. We must all be vigilant against the apathy that allows them to spread their poisonous views and convince impressionable people that they are speaking common sense ideas that are held by the majority, when we all know that this is a falsehood.

I’m not!

So Gideon George Osborne is announcing £11.5 billion of cuts to be implemented from April 2015 to the end of March 2016 – so what? There will be a general election the following month and he would be delusional if he thinks his party will win.

Ed Balls has said Labour would match the Coalition’s spending totals for that financial year, but we should not be fooled into believing this means Labour would make exactly the same choices as a Conservative or Conservative-led government. It won’t.

For example, Coalition welfare reform policies currently cost us all £19 billion per year. That’s right – it costs us money to knock all those poor, sick and disabled people off-benefit, because we pay private companies to carry out the government’s dirty work. Not only are they doing a very poor job, but they are also charging us a fortune for it.

Ed Balls could cancel the lot and, working with a decent Labour Work and Pensions secretary (not Liam Byrne), install a new system aimed at the causes of unemployment, sickness and disability, and still pay less than the current government.

You see, Tories aren’t really about saving money for the taxpayer. They’re about making poor people pay taxes to support rich people who don’t need them.

That’s just one – extremely oversimplified – example of why I don’t think we have to live in a country dominated by ‘Ballsbornism’, even though I coined the expression earlier today in a response to a comment.

‘Ballsbornism’ implies a consensus economic policy, much like the ‘Butskellism’ of the 1950s that married the ideas of Tory Rab Butler and Labour’s Hugh Gaitskell, and recent announcements by Ed Miliband and Ed Balls have stirred up fears that the Labour front bench has capitulated to the Tory economic viewpoint.

This blog has been part of that, and I make no apology for it. Like all political movements, Labour must be made to see that it cannot take the easy way out. People’s lives – no, I’m not making this up – depend on their decisions and those lives will be on their conscience if they cock up the system (as Osborne has been doing) or make lazy decisions.

The Tory-led Coalition likes to say its policies on benefits “encourage” people to sign off (and goes on to suggest that they then get jobs, although the evidence is overwhelmingly that they end up with no form of income at all); if we want better for our future, then the people of this country must similarly “encourage” Labour into policies that will genuinely improve our situation.

I have outlined my opinion of what those policies should be, in a previous article, so need not rehash them here.

And let’s remind ourselves of the absolute lunacy that could be foisted on us if the Conservatives come back into power: Tory backbencher Peter Bone, alongside similar-minded nutters, has compiled an alternative Queen’s Speech (or is it an alternative to the alternative, as Labour already produced one?).

This suggests restoring the death penalty for criminals (we all know this leads to injustice); privatising the BBC (more money for rich Tories who don’t deserve it, along with a diminished and politically-biased national broadcasting service), abolishing human rights legislation (to the huge detriment of all citizens and working people who rely on it, as discussed many times on this blog), and renaming the August Bank Holiday as ‘Margaret Thatcher Day’ (an insult to everybody whose lives were blighted by her policies).

Bone, whose bizarre pronouncements create semi-regular moments of comedy during Prime Minister’s Questions, told the BBC he was “putting forward Conservative policies” that would be “very helpful” to David Cameron.

This is an elected Conservative member of Parliament, remember – one of several who have drafted these proposals. And let’s not forget the Free Enterprise group of Tory right-wingers, whose book Britannia Unchained suggests (wrongly) that British workers are among the laziest in the world, and anyone unemployed for more than six months should do 30 hours’ community service and lose 10 per cent of their benefits, as if being forced out of work by (Tory) employers was a crime!

So let Osborne have his moment, when he announces his review on Wednesday. Then reflect on where you’ll be putting your vote in 2015 and enjoy the prospect that he will have wasted his breath.

EU amendment is defeated – but how many would have voted for an NHS referendum?

Get your votes out: But Vox Political believes there are probably far more MPs in this photograph than bothered to vote in the amendment to the Queen's speech seeking a commitment to an EU referendum.

Get your votes out: But Vox Political believes there are probably far more MPs in this photograph than bothered to vote in the amendment to the Queen’s speech seeking a commitment to an EU referendum.

Golly gosh – all that sound and fury over the Tory amendment to the Queen’s speech, and it’s defeated by 277 votes to 132. More than 200 MPs didn’t even bother to vote.

What an anticlimax. But then, what did we expect?

The simple fact was that Peter Bone’s amendment to the Gracious Speech (its correct title) was never going to get any traction. Labour and the Liberal Democrats don’t want a referendum; neither do many Tories.

And the Crime – sorry, Prime – Minister, who was initially well-disposed to the idea of an amendment, changed his tune after several media outlets including Vox Political reminded him that he would have to resign if it succeeded, and apparently instructed his cabinet to abstain.

Did anybody see his interview with, I think, Tom Bradby on ITV yesterday evening? It was all about whether Cameron actually has the chops to lead the Conservative Party, and his contribution can be boiled down to: “Yes, I am the leader of the Conservative Party. I am exhibiting leadership. This is because I’m the leader. Leader? Me! I’m THE LEADER!”

I half-expected him to burst into a chorus of I’m the Leader of the Gang (I Am) – and half-relieved when he didn’t, because of the obvious connotations of quoting the person who made that song famous.

The EU referendum amendment was chosen for debate and a vote by the Speaker, John Bercow – but it wasn’t the only choice.

What if he had chosen Labour MP John Mann’s amendment, which was extremely similar to Peter Bone’s, except for one crucial substitution. It ran: “respectfully regret that a bill to call a referendum on reversing NHS privatisation was not included in the Gracious Speech”.

How many would have supported that? Probably all of the Parliamentary Labour Party, most of the smaller parties, and perhaps even a fair number of Liberal Democrats, who are now – with only two years left on this Parliament’s clock – looking over their shoulder at a local electorate that has a lean, hungry and predatory look after three years of Coalition misgovernment.

It could all have been very different, if not for a cop-out by the man with the clout.

And does anybody think for a moment that this has put UKIP back in its box?