Thin speech slammed by opposition, unions and civil society
Progressive parties, trade unions and civil society groups have slammed this morning’s Queen’s Speech, insisting that doesn’t offer solutions to the major problems facing British people.
The SNP’s Westminster leader, Ian Black, called Theresa May ‘a lame duck Prime Minister leading a lame duck government.’
“It took Theresa May just four days to ditch her first flagship manifesto policy, and it’s taken barely four weeks for her to ditch the rest. There was nothing in this programme to try and turn around the faltering economy, or how to support our under-pressure public services.
“Years of Tory infighting have ultimately led us to this moment – they have effectively brought government to a standstill, and working people across the country are paying the price.
Liberal Democrat leader Tim Farron said the government’s focus on Brexit was distracting from the major issues facing British voters.
“People up and down the country are seeing our schools and hospitals in crisis. Proposed Tory cuts will leave our children in overcrowded classes in underfunded and crumbling schools, the sick left on trolleys in hospital corridors and the vulnerable without the vital services they rely on. This speech is bereft of any real solutions to these issues.
“The only thing that stayed the same was the Torie’s obsession with Brexit. Instead of tearing up our membership of the Single Market and the Customs Union, with all the consequences that will have for the economy, jobs and prices in the shops, they should be trying to bring the country together.”
Green Party co-leader Caroline Lucas commented:
“This hollowed out Government has produced a stunningly unambitious Queen’s speech at a time when Britain desperately needs a change of direction. Failing to propose any meaningful plans to tackle climate change is a near-criminal act of political vandalism, and refusing to give our hard pressed NHS workers the pay rise they deserve reveals a Government utterly out of touch. The proposed immigration clampdown sees an increasingly hardline Government doubling down on plans they know will wreck our economy.
TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady said the speech did not offer enough to working people, beyond ‘vague promises’.
“The election showed that working people are fed up with an economy that doesn’t work for them – but the government still isn’t listening.
“The Queen’s Speech makes vague promises but says nothing about the changes working people need right now – like banning zero hours contracts or making gig economy employers treat their workers fairly.
“There isn’t anything in this Queen’s Speech to end the year-on-year real-terms pay cuts that are hitting brave and dedicated public servants, and pushing nurses into using foodbanks.
“Workers’ rights will be put at risk by the Great Repeal Bill. It will allow ministers to bypass parliament and erode rights that come from the EU – like paid holiday and protections for part-time and agency workers. The bill must contain a specific provision to stop ministers going back and undermining the rights of working people.”
Other trade union leaders echoed O’Grady’s criticisms. UNISON chief Dave Prentis said ministers are ‘living in a parallel universe’ and criticised the government’s refusal to end austerity. Len McCluskey of Unite said the speech was ‘more an attempted lifeline for Theresa May than offering the meaningful life changes the people of this country need.’
In a joint statement, the leaders of four educators unions (ASCL, ATL, NAHT and NUT) accused the government of failing to respond to public concerns about education.
“Today was a golden opportunity for the new Government to show they’ve understood the scale of the problem in education funding by announcing immediate plans to provide the additional funding needed. The lack of urgent action is deeply disappointing.”
Speaking on behalf of the Open Europe campaign group, Labour MP Chuka Umunna said ‘the government are acting as if the General Election did not happen.’
“Earlier this month, the British public rejected Theresa May’s plan for a hard Brexit, and she has no mandate now to pursue one. A softer and more consensual approach is needed.
“The ultimate test of this Queen’s Speech is whether or not it helps to deliver a Brexit that protects jobs and living standards, and delivers the ‘exact same benefits’ as Single Market and Customs Union membership, as Ministers have repeatedly promised. But the vagueness of today’s proposals make this impossible to judge.”
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