“I want you to remember what we were elected on. This document [The Conservative Manifesto]. In here is the programme we have a mandate to deliver on. All of it. This will be a different government. It’s not a coalition government. So we can have proper accountability – no trading away of things that are in here. The ability to deliver this: that is one of the most important things we can do to restore faith and trust in politics – when you vote for something you get it and that is what we are going to do.”
David Cameron addresses the first meeting of Cabinet after the election of a Conservative majority
This Queen’s Speech was a statement about what David Cameron wants to do as a Conservative PM leading a Conservative majority. And as David Cameron’s pep talk clearly stated, if commitments aren’t delivered, are delayed or shelved it can’t be blamed on the on the coalition partner or having to govern in minority.
The Government is therefore wasting little time moving forward on key manifesto commitments, and the contents of the speech therefore contains few surprises.
At Cicero we have spoken of the big three issues that will define the start of this Parliament: the European Referendum, a new settlement for Scotland and finishing the job on deficit reduction. This sets the ball rolling on the first two – very important bills in their own right, though the last will be left to George Osborne when he sets out spending plans in the Budget on 8th July.
There are a number of Bills with a distinctly Conservative flavour – a further extension to right to buy for housing association tenants, a deregulatory Enterprise Bill, strike law reforms, measures to create a ‘Northern Powerhouse’ and devolve power to cities. There will, as expected, be an immigration bill that will crackdown on illegal immigration. The Prime Minister said that supporting hard working families would be at the heart of the Government’s agenda – and there are bills on free childcare and an employment bill that will increase apprenticeships.
There is also an oddity – the appearance of the tax lock bill blocking rate increases to VAT, Income Tax and National Insurance which is a result of a campaign commitment made late on. This is one of the most peculiar Bills in recent years – essentially the Government saying it will pass a bill that says ‘READ MY LIPS’ on the cover. None of this precludes changes to CGT, pensions tax relief or the taxation of dividend income of course.
There will be some bumps in the road, however. The supremacy of the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg has long been a bugbear for the right and the Conservatives made a clear manifesto commitment to break the link between it and UK courts. However, reports of behind the scenes opposition means the Government will have to consult more on the detail. This will no doubt delay its introduction. It is hard not to draw the conclusion that this policy would have been sacrificed on the altar of coalition in different circumstances. However, with a Tory majority it will have to be delivered even if it proves a headache to implement.
Mr Cameron now has his majority. There will surely be the odd moment in the months ahead when he might wish he was still in coalition.