TUESDAY, JULY 25, 2017

‘ELF AND SAFETY JOKE ANYONE ?

 

CHANGING TIMES.

The General Election result indicated a turning of a corner in the sentiment of the nation, the reaction to the dreadful Grenfell Tower fire, confirmed it.

The tide of anti-State, anti EU feeling is on the ebb. People are beginning to realise that a lot of “red tape” is there to protect people and keep them safe. I doubt if ministers will be calling for three regulations to be abolished for every new one in the future. That’s not to say business should not continue to identify silly or bureaucratic impediments to commercial transactions. But where regulations are in place to protect people, we should recognise their purpose and remember the poor victims of Grenfell Tower.

On Europe, a YouGov poll this month showed most people now think it was wrong for us to vote to leave the EU.

Tory and Labour politicians need to take this changing world into account. There are signs from the Queen’s Speech that the Conservatives will modify their austerity agenda and use some of the £23bn slack in the government coffers available to 2021 to fund schools and public sector pay rises.

It is going to be down to Labour to reflect the changing sentiments on Europe. Apart from that poll, there were two developments this week which show the stupidity of leaving the EU. On the very first day of the Brexit talks we had a taste of the EU’s strength. The idea that we could negotiate future trade in parallel with the divorce terms was blown out of the water. Then came the Queen’s Speech and the revelation that eight huge pieces of legislation are going to be needed over the next two years to implement this wholly negative exercise.

So, whilst we fail to deal with pressing issues like the future of social care, MPs will be up all night repatriating powers over nuclear waste or money laundering which having a glaring need to be done across the EU.

THE CROWNLESS QUEEN.

The low-key State Opening of Parliament seemed appropriate. The Queen didn’t ride to Westminster in her golden carriage and the crown rested on a table beside the monarch as she delivered the paired down proposals of the government. She looked as if she was being delayed in getting to Ascot and the whole occasion which usually anticipates a new government with interesting proposals was flat and dreary.

There is considerable anxiety that government momentum behind the Northern Powerhouse has drained away. We’ll get a better sense of that following an important transport conference in Manchester on Monday. But in the Queen’s Speech I only noticed a bill to extend HS2 from Birmingham to Crewe and a reference to the new industrial strategy.

Business needs to speak out about issues around skills, productivity and the Northern Powerhouse. I don’t know if bosses felt restrained by the election campaign. They shouldn’t have been because that is the very time to speak out. Anyway, the net result has been that business and the economy were topics that dare not speak their name.

Theresa May could stumble out of office at any time but I still think she’ll last two years. People who think Boris Johnson is the answer should listen to his car crash performance on “PM” on Radio 4 on Wednesday. His “wing it” approach to policy was effectively exposed. The nation should tire of this clown.

 

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During 40 years of broadcasting on the colourful political battlefield that is the North West, I've covered some great stories. From the Militants in Liverpool and Roy Jenkins' bid to become a Warrington MP, to Martin Bell's toppling of Neil Hamilton in Tatton and the election court that expelled Phil Woolas in Oldham.

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