The word most used to describe this week’s Kings Speech is probably ‘Underwhelming’. This annual event is seen by many as the opportunity for a struggling government to reset, relaunch, and remind the electorate why they still deserve their support.
However, this King’s Speech was short on ambition, inspiration, and new ideas. When the big takeaway is the reannouncement of a blanket smoking ban, you know you are witnessing a prime minister and government who are scrabbling around for new initiatives, rather than bursting with a whole set of new policies to move the country forward.
There was a crime and disorder package which included longer sentences for repeat petty-crime offenders such as shop lifters – good luck with that, given Judges were being asked not to imprison anyone, other than the most serious of criminals, as recently as last month, because our prisons are full!
Rishi Sunak has had two opportunities to ‘relaunch’ his party in the past two months. He failed to do so at his party conference – where all the talk was of his decision to cancel HS2 – and now a King’s Speech, which has left many Tory MPs complaining ‘Where’s the beef?’ What are the policies that they are going to be able to sell on the doorstep when they are canvassing for votes at the General Election next year?
The next chance for the government comes with the Chancellors autumn statement later this month. Given that the main issues exercising the great British public at the moment is the cost-of-living crisis, then maybe it is Jermey Hunt who will be outlining the reasons why the Conservatives deserve another five-years in office. His backbenchers want tax cuts – will he deliver?
Inheritance tax, another freeze of fuel duties, and maybe a relaxing of the tax threshold rules could offer the Conservatives something to cheer. But, unless the government start to outline some exciting new initiatives soon, the voters will conclude that they have run out of ideas – and therefore run out of road.