For King Charles it was the first King’s Speech in 70 years and for Rishi Sunak his last chance to show he understands the issues facing the British people and, after 13 years of Tory government, can address them.
I wanted targets for house building, affordable social housing, and a law that all new build should be energy efficient, so that people can heat their homes without facing bankruptcy. I wanted fair funding for our police, based on size of population served and nature of crime. Why should the West Midlands get proportionately less funding than Suffolk or the Home Countries? Why not minimum standards on the railways at all times, and what about legislation to stop train operators paying dividends to shareholders when they fail to provide a proper service and the same for water companies, pumping effluent into our rivers? Why not clean up parliament and ban MPs from holding lucrative second jobs? And how about acting to ensure those who lose loved ones through medical negligence get legal aid when they come up against expensive lawyers employed by the NHS trusts they’re challenging, especially as we’re paying for that.
Instead, we got a series of short-term measures designed to win a few headlines and avoid upsetting the various factions in the PM’s warring Tory Party.
As expected, we’re getting a little leasehold reform for new build but nothing for those already trapped in properties with unreasonable leasehold demands. Banning tobacco sales for those born after Jan 1st, 2009, sounds good but will it change behaviour and is it enforceable? A new football regulator hardly seems a priority while public services are collapsing. The Renters Bill will have limited impact while soaring private rents are pricing people out of their homes. No one will argue with tougher sentences for serious offences but how will it work when our prison regime is falling apart, and ministers are encouraging judges and magistrates to avoid sending people to jail.
This King’s Speech was Mr Sunak’s big chance. My guess is that most people will find it a big disappointment, long on words short on ideas.