Queen


>Sixty years ago George VI died of his lung cancer at Sandringham Palace out in Kenya the young Princess didn’t know for some hours. She returned by plane a week after he had seen her off. To mark that Diamond Jubilee here is how, the event was reported.

Here is some footage of her coronation the following year.

The public perception of the Queen has often been one of seriousness of purpose, but of course over her 85 years and 60 years as Monarch there have been occasional glimpses of some of her lighter side.

The Queen’s New Years Honour’s list is out [link to PDF file] and there are some interesting honourees amongst them, from Sir Patrick Stewart, through Rick Parfitt and Francis Rossi of Status Quo (obviously for long term service to three chords) to many of the unsung heroes in mundane but important jobs. But it is the omission of some of the biggest sectors of honourees that speaks volumes for 2009.

First up this is the last Honour’s list before the dissolution of Parliament, of course there may well be dissolution honours handed out by Gordon Brown, but often in the past these have been increased for some of those known to be stepping down being honoured before then. With 121 MPs already announcing they are stepping down there is not a single Member of Parliament on the list.

The other big sector noticeable in its almost total absence is the bankers. Last year at this time there were none worthy of inclusion. This year there is but a solitary man Dyfrig John the former chief executive of HSBC one of the banks that did not request a Government bail out. But unlike all those knights of the discredited banks who apologised before committee, he is only getting a CBE.

On with the new year then Ma’am and in the words of Jean Luc Picard “Make It So”.

Footnote for history: Civil Servants of course miss the Honours Crunch and take up 13% of the honours on offer.

>The Queen’s New Years Honour’s list is out [link to PDF file] and there are some interesting honourees amongst them, from Sir Patrick Stewart, through Rick Parfitt and Francis Rossi of Status Quo (obviously for long term service to three chords) to many of the unsung heroes in mundane but important jobs. But it is the omission of some of the biggest sectors of honourees that speaks volumes for 2009.

First up this is the last Honour’s list before the dissolution of Parliament, of course there may well be dissolution honours handed out by Gordon Brown, but often in the past these have been increased for some of those known to be stepping down being honoured before then. With 121 MPs already announcing they are stepping down there is not a single Member of Parliament on the list.

The other big sector noticeable in its almost total absence is the bankers. Last year at this time there were none worthy of inclusion. This year there is but a solitary man Dyfrig John the former chief executive of HSBC one of the banks that did not request a Government bail out. But unlike all those knights of the discredited banks who apologised before committee, he is only getting a CBE.

On with the new year then Ma’am and in the words of Jean Luc Picard “Make It So”.

Footnote for history: Civil Servants of course miss the Honours Crunch and take up 13% of the honours on offer.

For the last time in this the 15th Parliament of her reign the Queen has delivered the words that her Government’s wishes. Well after all the pomp and circumstance has led to the Queen taking her seat on the throne in the House of Lords. When Black Rod entered the Commons though it was surprisingly sparsely populated on the Labour benches.

Frank (Oops*) Dennis Skinner shouted out “Royal Expenses are on the way!” in his traditional role as mischief maker in chief. Then all the Members, including the Lib Dems showing they still respect the authority of the crown just not the the content of this speech, followed the Speaker to the other place. But what did the speech contain once they all stood at the back of the Upper Chamber?

Well the main thrust was the economy but how was that to be done? Fostering growth through education and training. International collaboration for Economic Growth and Climate Change (strangely of course the rejection of bring 10:10 to the House recently grates against that, can’t get their own House in order). Though they have mentioned their new buzz cleaner fuel Carbon Capture and Storage, but no mention about utilising other renewables and to there was an announcement to help the poorest households with their energy bills. There is also going to be the legislation laid to bring about a high speed rail link between London and Scotland.

Regulation of the financial service industry to be brought in over the governance and benefits that the banking sector currently enjoys. So Gordon Brown is going to sort out the mess of the regulation of the financial sector that he brought in as Chancellor. There was also the vague promise to bring lgislation forward to half the deficit. Wow! That will be a lot to achieve in 70 days, and it is also very wishy washy, it is hardly a line that can be thrown away, yet the speech component of this would be able to fit into a Tweet.

Free personal care, but only to those in highest need. Parents to take responsibility of children’s anti-social behaviour, so an even greater tightening of civil liberty you may not be judged by the sins of your fathers but those of your children. This from the Government that wants everybody to work full time, encouraging people off benefits with a stick, so parental supervision is going to be harder to achieve in some cases. ‘Continue’ to narrow the gap between rich and poor, equality of pay between men and women. Neither of these two have been effective attacked in 12 years of a Labour government surprisingly and now in their dying breathe they want to resolve the issues they have ignored or on occasions made worse over the last 3 parliaments. But there is to be movement on temporary agency workers, something that I’ve seen first hand for the last 8 years or so and needs greater protection, long overdue.

Constitutional reform, will continue to be brought forward, a democratic mandate for the Lords. Sadly there appeared to be very little in this section of reforming Parliament, not enough to please the people. Though Parliament will work with the Northern Irish to continue the devolution of Police and Law and Order, the one outstanding devolution from the Agreement from the start of Blair’s years. There is also a promise of more powers to Wales and a continuation of working with Scotland, I didn’t hear anything to implement any of the Calman proposals so Labour are dropping the ball on Scotland, and the Tories are unlikely to pick it up if they take power.

However, how this Government can work towards a world without nuclear weapons while being committed to replacing Trident is something we all want to know. But they are to bring an end to cluster munitions, after 12 years they have finally got around to tyring to deal with one Princess Diana’s legacies and do away with landmines.

There is a lot of noble talk but there are some things that are too big to have been left to the end, the Equality Bill for example surely should have been a first term commitment rather than a rump achievement. They are taking steps towards the Lib Dem policy of free personal care. There was some mention of education as well, so the mantra from the pre-1997 election of “Education, Education, Education” is still looking for a resolution over 12 years later, surely some sort of failure of their Prime objective. Lord’s Reform is still a draft bill, nothing about fair votes, getting big money out of politics, stuff that could have given a clean bill to the next parliament but no steps in that direction.

These are purely my initial thoughts of what struck me from what was said, as it was being said. I may look at the full text later and pick up some other things.

*May have something to do with the watching the repeat of BBC Children in Need‘s Frank Skinner narrated Round the World in 80 Days just before sleep last night.

>For the last time in this the 15th Parliament of her reign the Queen has delivered the words that her Government’s wishes. Well after all the pomp and circumstance has led to the Queen taking her seat on the throne in the House of Lords. When Black Rod entered the Commons though it was surprisingly sparsely populated on the Labour benches.

Frank (Oops*) Dennis Skinner shouted out “Royal Expenses are on the way!” in his traditional role as mischief maker in chief. Then all the Members, including the Lib Dems showing they still respect the authority of the crown just not the the content of this speech, followed the Speaker to the other place. But what did the speech contain once they all stood at the back of the Upper Chamber?

Well the main thrust was the economy but how was that to be done? Fostering growth through education and training. International collaboration for Economic Growth and Climate Change (strangely of course the rejection of bring 10:10 to the House recently grates against that, can’t get their own House in order). Though they have mentioned their new buzz cleaner fuel Carbon Capture and Storage, but no mention about utilising other renewables and to there was an announcement to help the poorest households with their energy bills. There is also going to be the legislation laid to bring about a high speed rail link between London and Scotland.

Regulation of the financial service industry to be brought in over the governance and benefits that the banking sector currently enjoys. So Gordon Brown is going to sort out the mess of the regulation of the financial sector that he brought in as Chancellor. There was also the vague promise to bring lgislation forward to half the deficit. Wow! That will be a lot to achieve in 70 days, and it is also very wishy washy, it is hardly a line that can be thrown away, yet the speech component of this would be able to fit into a Tweet.

Free personal care, but only to those in highest need. Parents to take responsibility of children’s anti-social behaviour, so an even greater tightening of civil liberty you may not be judged by the sins of your fathers but those of your children. This from the Government that wants everybody to work full time, encouraging people off benefits with a stick, so parental supervision is going to be harder to achieve in some cases. ‘Continue’ to narrow the gap between rich and poor, equality of pay between men and women. Neither of these two have been effective attacked in 12 years of a Labour government surprisingly and now in their dying breathe they want to resolve the issues they have ignored or on occasions made worse over the last 3 parliaments. But there is to be movement on temporary agency workers, something that I’ve seen first hand for the last 8 years or so and needs greater protection, long overdue.

Constitutional reform, will continue to be brought forward, a democratic mandate for the Lords. Sadly there appeared to be very little in this section of reforming Parliament, not enough to please the people. Though Parliament will work with the Northern Irish to continue the devolution of Police and Law and Order, the one outstanding devolution from the Agreement from the start of Blair’s years. There is also a promise of more powers to Wales and a continuation of working with Scotland, I didn’t hear anything to implement any of the Calman proposals so Labour are dropping the ball on Scotland, and the Tories are unlikely to pick it up if they take power.

However, how this Government can work towards a world without nuclear weapons while being committed to replacing Trident is something we all want to know. But they are to bring an end to cluster munitions, after 12 years they have finally got around to tyring to deal with one Princess Diana’s legacies and do away with landmines.

There is a lot of noble talk but there are some things that are too big to have been left to the end, the Equality Bill for example surely should have been a first term commitment rather than a rump achievement. They are taking steps towards the Lib Dem policy of free personal care. There was some mention of education as well, so the mantra from the pre-1997 election of “Education, Education, Education” is still looking for a resolution over 12 years later, surely some sort of failure of their Prime objective. Lord’s Reform is still a draft bill, nothing about fair votes, getting big money out of politics, stuff that could have given a clean bill to the next parliament but no steps in that direction.

These are purely my initial thoughts of what struck me from what was said, as it was being said. I may look at the full text later and pick up some other things.

*May have something to do with the watching the repeat of BBC Children in Need‘s Frank Skinner narrated Round the World in 80 Days just before sleep last night.

>The man widely tipped as the next Prime Minister has yet again shown his lack of ‘leadership’ by following Nick Clegg’s attack on the Labour publicising Queen’s speech that I gave an alternative for yesterday.

Mind you Cameron’s posturing is also just that, he says “What we need is radicalism and the Conservatives have proved that we are the only party to possess it.”His radicalism is aimed at conquering the recession, social problems and the political system.

However, look at some of that radicalism, on the national debt, they are revisiting the child credit on the highest paid, good so are the Lib Dems. Yet they are also looking to reward the highest paid with perks in inheritance tax. They are looking to freeze public sector pay, the Lib Dems have also promised that for the top end jobs. The conservatives have promised to do so for all but the lowest paid 1 million, that is all the public sector workers paid under £18,000. It may be radical but is hardly improving the lot of social problems, especially for the low paid public servants who have to work in London.

On our broken society Cameron admits that his triumvirate teenage pregnancy, addiction and crime won’t be fixed overnight. Strange that he is attacking Labour of bringing things they won’t have time to achieve by offering up an alternative that is also unachievable. However, they are saying that any suitably qualified organisation can set up a new school anywhere they wished. Those that mean Ronald McDonald or Disney High Schools, after all those these multinationals have educational programmes within their corporate structure, indeed for that matter so do most multi-nationals.

If these qualified organisations can set up a school anywhere they want, surely won’t they be looking for where they may most benefit to the organisation? Surely these will not be set up where the new school is most needed. Yes Cameron then mentions his pupil premium to encourage schools to take on pupils from less advantaged backgrounds, but what if these new schools are getting set up too far away to be of use?

As for Parliamentary reform he says he will cut ministers’ salaries by 5 per cent, scrap the perks and subsidies of parliamentary life, reign in the quango state and give power to local government, communities, families and individuals.

Ok the first is in line with Public Service restructuring the Lib Dems have proposed. But just what does Cameron mean by the perks and subsidies of parliamentary life? How far reaching those that stretch into necessary expenses to ensure that being a Member of Parliament isn’t just a job for the well off, as it was in the 19th century? We’ve already seen that some of their radical reforms will hurt aspirant MPs from less well off situations, potentially losing a level of representative and experience to the House.

Unlike Nick who yesterday gave a number of concrete proposals to make real change is giving power to the people Cameron is (as the Tories have so long) being vague of the specifics. You really must wonder just when anything concrete, and fair, will actually come from the Tories rather than homilies and aspirational words on this.

The man widely tipped as the next Prime Minister has yet again shown his lack of ‘leadership’ by following Nick Clegg’s attack on the Labour publicising Queen’s speech that I gave an alternative for yesterday.

Mind you Cameron’s posturing is also just that, he says “What we need is radicalism and the Conservatives have proved that we are the only party to possess it.”His radicalism is aimed at conquering the recession, social problems and the political system.

However, look at some of that radicalism, on the national debt, they are revisiting the child credit on the highest paid, good so are the Lib Dems. Yet they are also looking to reward the highest paid with perks in inheritance tax. They are looking to freeze public sector pay, the Lib Dems have also promised that for the top end jobs. The conservatives have promised to do so for all but the lowest paid 1 million, that is all the public sector workers paid under £18,000. It may be radical but is hardly improving the lot of social problems, especially for the low paid public servants who have to work in London.

On our broken society Cameron admits that his triumvirate teenage pregnancy, addiction and crime won’t be fixed overnight. Strange that he is attacking Labour of bringing things they won’t have time to achieve by offering up an alternative that is also unachievable. However, they are saying that any suitably qualified organisation can set up a new school anywhere they wished. Those that mean Ronald McDonald or Disney High Schools, after all those these multinationals have educational programmes within their corporate structure, indeed for that matter so do most multi-nationals.

If these qualified organisations can set up a school anywhere they want, surely won’t they be looking for where they may most benefit to the organisation? Surely these will not be set up where the new school is most needed. Yes Cameron then mentions his pupil premium to encourage schools to take on pupils from less advantaged backgrounds, but what if these new schools are getting set up too far away to be of use?

As for Parliamentary reform he says he will cut ministers’ salaries by 5 per cent, scrap the perks and subsidies of parliamentary life, reign in the quango state and give power to local government, communities, families and individuals.

Ok the first is in line with Public Service restructuring the Lib Dems have proposed. But just what does Cameron mean by the perks and subsidies of parliamentary life? How far reaching those that stretch into necessary expenses to ensure that being a Member of Parliament isn’t just a job for the well off, as it was in the 19th century? We’ve already seen that some of their radical reforms will hurt aspirant MPs from less well off situations, potentially losing a level of representative and experience to the House.

Unlike Nick who yesterday gave a number of concrete proposals to make real change is giving power to the people Cameron is (as the Tories have so long) being vague of the specifics. You really must wonder just when anything concrete, and fair, will actually come from the Tories rather than homilies and aspirational words on this.

Next Page »