Queen’s Speech as-it-happens
16:03 – Cameron says we're seeing a fundamental difference in values "between his party and mine". he trots out plans for welfare and borrowing, the usual really. "I commend this Queen's Speech to the House". First up to reply is Keith Vaz, but most MPs start streaming out. We will also go our own way. It was, as expected, a pretty drab affair. See you next week for PMQs.
15:59 – He says Miliband's policies are a revival of Michael Foot. The Tories keep on opressing with that socialism line, but I'm not convinced it has any resonance outside the chamber – or even in it. Other than that Cameron has been fairly hum drum but mostly OK.
15:56 – "I listened to the leader of the opposition speech and there was a complete absence of anything apporoaching a coherant plan – nothing on the deficit, nothing on growth. That's his problem, it's not that he doesn't know the name of the leader of the council or that he's running cost of living but doesn't know the cost of his living. he has a rag bag of statist pick and mix ideas."
15:47 – A bit of baracking leads Cameron triumphantly say that he thought such behaviour was frowned on by Labour now. "The message hasn't gotten through," he says. Ian Austin, Lab, says why wait until 2017 for an EU referendum. Not the most useful intervention for Miliband.
15:44 – Caroline Lucas, greens, lambasts Cameron for allowing fracking to take place without support from landowners. Cameron says evidence from the US shows it makes the price of gas competitive. It won't be legal to go onto someone's property and frack against their will.
15:40 – If it was the former, by the way, Cameron would have done well to cut it out altogether. Anyway, on we go to the more serious stuff. Cameron takes a tour of foreign affairs – Ukraine and the like. The Tory backbenchers who brought forward the private members billl on an EU referendum asks if Cameron would support another backebcher doing the same. Cameron reaffirms that he will.
15:35 – He reminds the House that Mordaunt was foreign press secretary for George Bush. He also jokes about Slash and seems to make the Miliband joke again, saying the next test will be to eat a sandwich live on television. Did they both make the same joke by coincidence, or was he humourlessly trying to stick the knife in following a self-deprecating joke from his opponent? it;s hard to tell, but the long, loud groans from the Labour benches suggest the oppsotion believes it's the latter.
15:32 – Cameron starts about as bad as Miliband ended, with a list of supposed accomplishments. "Our long term econoomic plan is working but there is much more to do. It wil take the rest of this parliament and the next to turn this around." This works well as a preview of the general election campaign for both sides. But then, we'll hear little else for the next year.
15:30 – Things take a further trip downhill as Miliband says we need to talk about immigration and then offers a set of proposals which would not satisfy ukip voters – clamping down on gangmasters etc. Now he reels off what the Quueen's Speech should have done. It's not much cop. "We need a different government, we need a Labour government," he ends. Shame about the end. He was doing wel for a while there. Cameron is up.
15:22 – He's doing a good job here. Miliband is laying out his stall quite effectively. It;s a more generous environment than during PMQs. He ruins it somewhat by atttacking a Tory Mp for shouting "from a sedentary position". He adds: "That's another thing people hate about this parliament". The Tories lose it, all pointing at Ed Balls – Cameron going crazier than most. "We changing" Miliband says, a mild slap down to his shadow chancellor, who doesn't look best pleased.
15:20 – Miliband gives way to another Tory MP and gets a demand for promises on a jobs tax. "These are deeply serious questions and what do they do? Get their backbenchers to read out a whips' question". Great attack from Miliband – even if it is hypocritical. labour dothe whip tactic too. Jacob Rees Mogg stands for the Tories, joking that his comment was written for him by the whips. Miliband mocks him for suggesting a pact with Ukip.
15:14 – Miliband's sombre statement is well delivered – you can see it working well during leader's debates. The House listens in silence, although the heckling is starting back up again. One in five of those in work is now low paid, Miliband says. He says people no longer feel "this House speaks for them". There is a bill in the Queen's Speech on employment. this is the bill fining £20,000 employers for each employee earning less than minimum wage, rather than just £20,000 in total. But Miliband says the bill should go further and set targets for each year of raising the minimum wage.
15:11 – Miliband warns there's a depth of disenchantement with politics that goes beyond one party. "It goes beyond one party. The test is to respond. Too many people in our country feel it doesn't work for them" He;s delivering it well but the speech is drifting into rote party political territory. He says he supports the armed forces ombusdsman, recall and slavery. He missed a trick there – better to say the recall bill is insufficient.
15:10 – He reels off the rebellions of Brooke and then says: "On current form that makes her a Lib Dem loyalist." Another good line. Clegg looks unimpressed.
15:06 – He now pays tribute to those parliamentarians who have died over the course of the last year. He celebrates Morduants speech as an address with "a sense of history, a sense of place and a sense of humour". He says it takes guts to put on a swiimming costume and jump off a high board. "If she's looking for a new challenge she should try wrestling a bacon sandwich". That was actually quite funny.
15:05 – Miliband is up. He starts by honouring the service of the veterans in D-Day. He then says we should be proud of the service of our armed forces in Afghanistan.
15:00 – Now she;s talking about buiding regulations. She's gone right off the reservation. I suddenly miss Mordaunt, who was dreadful, but better. She does at least say that coalition "has been a difficult period for me politically" – the most interesting thing so far. She then undoes her work by celebrating the coalition's economic record in standard loyal backbench terms. Bercow sounds exasperated as he takes over.
14:57 – Christ this is bad. It's not even so bad it's good. She just described the "key defining features" of her constituency.
14:55 – Brooke says she doesn;t want to be plusked from obscurity following the speech because she needs to maintain what;s left of her left wing credentials. Clegg smiles weakly.
14:51 – Any good will she earned quickly dissappears with the mention of the government's "long term economic plan". She promises "our best days come ahead". Baffling some people are celebrating this as a great speech. They evidenyl have very low standards. It's boring, trite and juvenile. Annette Brooke, Lib dem, gets up to the second 'umble address. It threatens to be even worse. The last speech made a big "splash" she jokes – a reference to the reality TV show Mordaunt was on. Yep. Not boding well.
14:48 – A long passage on Portsmouth finds her stress that "we love our city and we love our country too". She then p[raises hr training the Royal Navy. Blimey. She then jokes about her training in "how to protect your penis and testicles in the field". Not every day you hear those words in the Commons chamber.
14:45 – I'm afriad she hasn't quite got the tone of this. She's rather too stern and severe. It should be somewhat more lightweight and humourous. The Commons looks a bit glum and perhaps a tad bored.
14:37 – Penny Mordaunt, Conservative, reality TV star, gives the first 'umble address. She has never struck me as particularly funny, which is sort of the point of these speeches, but I've been wrong before.
14:35 – In the mean time here's the piece I just wrote on the drug proposal in the Queen's Speech.
14:33 – Back, a little later than expected. Speaker John Bercow is just opening this year's session of parliament.
11:58 – Ok, I'm going to put this blog on pause for now while we grab food and look into these bills. We'll be starting it up again around 14:15 in preparation for the Commons debate. See you in a bit.
11:53 – The two bits I find most interesting are the clamping down on cutting agents used in illegal drugs and the action against "invasive non-native species that pose serious threats to biodiversity".
11:52 – Ok, here's the summary of what's been announced.
11:50 – Over the course of the speech a page boy fainted. Three leave where four entered. One of them gets an extra hand around the flowing robes.
11:46 – Right, we're done. Don't worry too much about what I just wrote. We'll have a full summary of what's really going on up in two tics.
11:44 – Nearly there. The government wil act to protect Europe's borders (looking at you Russia) the Uk will host a Nato summit in Wales and strive to help the humanitarian situation in Syria and sort a nuclear agreement with Iran. The Uk will try to prevent sexual violence worldwide. it will also try to reform the EU with a stronger role for member states. The Queen and Prince Phillip will attend a state visit to Franceto celebrate the 70th anniversary of the D-Day landings. They will also welcome the president of SIngapore on a forthcoming state visit.
11:42 – On it goes. Protection against lawsuits for people acting to help others. An improved armed forces complaints system. A bill to tackle child neglect. Legislation on MP recall. New financial powers for Scotland. More tax owers for Wales. Rebalancing the economy in Northern Ireland. Direct elections for national park authorities in England.
11:41 – Benefits will continue to be capped, housing supply increased, home ownership increased, sales of high value government land increased, more promotion of Help to Buy, more academies and free schools, more apprentiships, more help with childcare costs, and a bill to prevent modern slavery.
11:39 – Penatlies for employers who don;t pay minimum wage., a bill to bolster infrastructure (fracking), reduce use of plastic carrier bags and freedom over retirement funds. She's rattling through it.
11:36 – OK we're off. the government will continue its "long term plan" to secure the recovery. It;s depressing seeing the Tories stuff their campaaign slogan's into the monarch's mouth. Tne government will cut taxes, provide financial security. A charter of Budget responsibility wil be brought forward. Yhe personal allowance will rise and fuel duty be frozen. Married couples tax allowance brought forward. :Legisaltion wil makr the Uk an attrative place to start a business. Legislation will provide for a reregulation target, improve contract fairness for low paid workers, and protect pub tenants against big firms.
11:35 – We're reaching peak hand gusture levels on the weird walk contest. Miliband and Cameron both furiously holding out fingers, making weird fists, swinging away as if surveying their plantation. The most normal looking pair, it has to be said, is Theresa May and Yvette Cooper.
11:32 – "Coalition's last stand" was this year's Skinner joke. Just. Not Funny. MPs all laugh heartily anyway. Baffling. Anyway the weird walk has begun.
11:30 – The Queen is walking through this very grande ante-room to the Lords. And now she sits down. This is a weird bit. Everyone now just sits in sileence in that room while MPs walk over.
11:23 – The Speaker is on his way to the Commons. Once he's in it'll be sitting, the MPs will wait for Black Rod too turn up and knock, so MPs can walk to the Lords. They shut the door on him to symbolise the supremacy of the Commons. I am mentioning this because this is basically the only bit of the ceremony I understand. Then Dennis Skinner (Beast of Bolsover) makes a republican joke which is not funny but everyone laughs anyway. Then they all troops out to the Lords. That's the juicy bit where Cameron and Miliband looks deeply uncomfortable being pleasant to each other.
11:21 – If you thought Michael Howard had something of the night about him before, wait until you see him in the red robes. Looks like Dracula without the sexual allure. Lord Lamont is wonderfully put together and having a laugh with Baroness Warsi. They look as if they genuinely enjoy each other's company. You won't see much of that today.
11:17 – Liz has arrived.
11:07 – The Queen's carriage is arriving at parliament. The carriage is new and actually pretty wonderful. Here's the Press Association's description of it:
The Queen will travel to the state opening of parliament in a living time capsule – a new state coach celebrating hundreds of years of the country's history.
Fragments of Henry VIII's warship the Mary Rose, Sir Isaac Newton's apple tree and the stone of destiny are among the priceless artefacts incorporated into the bodywork of the carriage being used by the monarch for the first time.
The handrails inside the diamond jubilee state coach are made from Royal Yacht Britannia timber and a wooden crown covered in gold leaf, which forms the centrepiece of the roof's decorations, was carved from oak from Nelson's flagship HMS Victory.
Many of the historical items are pieces of wood that have been fashioned into small varnished squares used to decorate the interior walls and door panels.
It is only the second state coach to be built in more than 100 years and was conceived and created by Jim Frecklington in his Australian workshop in Manly, a suburb of Sydney.
10:54 – Some sort of ceremony thing is happening. The crown is passed from one man in a funny red suit to another man in a funny red suit on a tiny red cushion. They are now walking forward slowly. If you want commentary from someone who understands what all this means you'll need another live blog, I'm afraid. I can't make head or tail of it.
10:46 – It's worth taking a moment to dwell on the fashion. Baronesses, or, as I like to call them, Lady Peers, often take to the occassion of a Queen's Speech like they're at a wedding. Even worse are the wives of the peers, who wear the tiaras. They are actually forced to wear them apparently. It is an atrocious display, like someone machine gunning butterflies. Much better isare the absurdist outfits of the staff in the procession, who are dressed in all the mad regalia of the ages, as if the British constitution was like a rainy afternoon in Ripley's Believe It Or Not.
10:30 – Sorry for the break. I'm actually going through the Queen's Speech now. We're not allowed to report on it until she finishes, but it's a worth having a peek to check that all is as one assumes it is.
10:18 – By the way, here's our take on the challenges Cameron faces at the G7 later. He'll probably be more worried about that than the Queen's Speech.
10:12 – The big ticket items are mostly re-hashed. There's the scrapping of a need for pension annuity, but that was in the Budget. There's the clamp down on employers not paying minimum wage (£20K fine per employee rather than overall) but that was announced in November. There are some more eyebrow raising items in there – a 5p charge on plastic bags for instance. Although that might be flappy nonsense. It gets announced twice a year for the last ten years. There's also a measure for giving local communities a chance to take partial ownership of renewable energy production. That's one of those policies which I can't visualise and which could very welll be nonsense. It;s a counter-weight to one of the few contentious issues in the speech: allowing fracking companies to dig on people's land without their permission. That has major political implications – some Tory voters will be less than happy about it and the Lib Dems are unimpressed. It also has major civil liberties implications.
09:51 – So what's in it? Not a hell of a lot. You can tell everything you need to know about the Queen's Speech by the fact Nick Clegg and Cameron put out a joint statement this morning. They need to send their backbenchers a message that the coalition will continue with a minimum of acrimony until the general election campaign next year. The bills are therefore on areas where they agree, or at least where their disgreements are not so severe that they stop it from happening. So while the Tories would love to pass something really digusting on immigration – deportation for anyone without a job after five months, that sort of thing – the Lib Dems have killed it off. A Lib Dem or Tory MP in a contested seat will be tempted to use the next year to sound off about keystone issues which galvinise their core support, so the government will have gone out of its way to take those sorts of issues out the package. Because the parties are limited to ever-shrinking areas of agreement, the speech will be pretty vanilla. Even if they wanted to pass controversial legislation there isn't really the time. We've a six week summer break coming up, folowed by five weeks for conference season, and then the new year is essentially the start of the longest general election campaign in history. This might not be the comatose government Labour says it is, but it's pretty tired, that's for sure.
09:27 – Good morning and welcome to another Queen's Speech, the last of this parliament and the final legislative gasp of the coalition before the knives come out for the general election. I'll be bringing you analysis, news and general mockery of a staggeringly silly event throughout the day. In a moment I'll do a quick summary of what we think is in it – it ain't much – along with some political analysis of why what's there is there. Liz turns up at about 11:00 and there's about half an hour of all the weird robing stuff and knocking on doors. If you've eaten drugs this morning, this is the section you'll enjoy the most. Whatever you do, don't switch on the BBC during this period. Huw Edwards tends to swoon a bit at the pomp and it can be distracting. Then we have the speech at 11:30. It's pretty short, given all the build up. Basically just a list of bad and unnecessary legisaltion – fiddling while Rome burns at best, handing out extra matches at worst. Then at 14:30 the Commons debate starts with two MPs doing the address – basically a bad best man's speech without the alcohol. And then the leader of the opposition kicks off the debate proper at about 15:00. The prime minister will respond at 15:20 or so before jetting of for the G7 meeting. At this point I will be either comatose or suicidal. Possibly both, which raises all sorts of practical questions. The best bits are the jarring combinations of friendliness and hatred. The walk through parliament where David Cameron and Ed Miliband have to pretend to be civil to one another while exhibiting body language messages of dominance is priceless. There's also an enjoyeable shift in gear from friendly addresses to party political attacks in the afternoon debate. As usual, I'll be making a series of spelling and grammatical mistakes throughout the blog, which I shall probably be too tired to fix later on. Get over it. That's my advice.