Last week, we witnessed the pomp and ceremony of the historic first King’s Speech at the State Opening of Parliament. The King’s Speech is written by the government and delivered by the reigning monarch. This formal event marked the beginning of a new parliamentary session and outlined the Government’s legislative agenda for the upcoming year.
The King’s Speech is an important part of our constitutional monarchy and is a tradition that dates back to the sixteenth century. I would love to be transported back to that period of time to see what the differences are between then and now. The King’s Speech has evolved over time, the main difference being, of course, that it was originally delivered by the monarch for the monarch but is now delivered on behalf of the government.
The King’s Speech outlined the policies and laws that the Government plans to introduce over the next year and gives an insight into what the Government’s priorities are. These priorities cover four main areas. Firstly, we need to grow our economy, which the Government will do by protecting our energy security, securing the benefits of Brexit, and ensuring we have the right framework for tech firms to compete and grow in the UK. Secondly, and as events on our street have shown over the past few weeks, we must strengthen our society. The Government is proposing to do this by protecting the health of young people (by creating the first smokefree generation - no one aged 14 or under will ever be able to be sold cigarettes, and by restricting the sale and marketing of vapes to children), supporting those who rent (by bringing in legislation which will empower leaseholders with greater rights and protections over freeholds and punitive charges, give renters more security, landlords more control over their properties, and deliver our manifesto commitment to abolish Section 21 “no fault” evictions), and eradicating antisemitism everywhere. Thirdly, the Government is focusing on keeping people safe, by making sure that the police have the powers they need, criminals get the punishment they deserve, and society is protected from terrorism. Lastly, the Government will take action to promote our national interests by backing our Armed Forces, supporting Ukraine and leading the way on the challenges of the future: climate change and AI.
In each of these priority areas the Government is taking long-term action to deliver change. For too long, governments have prioritised short-term rather than long-term goals because they are more tangible for voters to see and easier to achieve. Long-term policies and planning will help this Government and future governments to address complex problems that require a sustained effort over many years. Long-term measures will help to reduce the uncertainty and provide a sense of direction. This is because as a country, we have felt the impact of a number of global events over the past four years – the pandemic, the war in Europe, and now the conflict in the Middle East. We also cannot ignore Brexit, which whilst it did bring short-term challenges, we are now able to seize incredible opportunities that our freedom presents, especially by developing our global trading relationships. This includes new trade deals which will be included in the Trade (Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership) Bill which will make sure that the Government can promote trade and investment with the fastest growing economies around the world. This will, in turn, help to create new jobs at home and grasp one of the key opportunities of Brexit.
I welcome the focus of this long-term vision for the UK; as an advocate for early intervention and prevention for long-term gain and change, long-term planning can actually help reduce costs by avoiding the need for expensive short-term fixes that are not sustainable in the long-term. The Government does, however, need to balance long-term and short-term goals to ensure that our needs are being met now as well as in the future, and therefore it will continue to tackle inflation, prioritise higher growth over extra borrowing, reduce debt, relieve pressure on the NHS by cutting waiting lists and, crucially, implement the small boats laws so we can crush the people smuggling gangs and stop the boats.