The opening paragraph of last weeks Queens Speech raises a question regarding who the Government has in mind when it speaks of ‘others’. Bearing in mind that Queens speeches are crafted over many days and should ensure that not only do the words flow well, when they are read out aloud, but also that the meaning is clear and uncompromising. This first pragraph reads as follows, the bold type and underlining are mine:
My government’s priority is to secure the best possible deal as the country leaves the European Union. My ministers are committed to working with Parliament, the devolved administrations, business and others to build the widest possible consensus on the country’s future outside the European Union.
One of the abiding problem when choosing between Conservatives and Labour at a national level is that the Tories will focus almost exclusively on big business when it uses the term business, and the Labour party will focus extensively on the views of trade unionists when it comes to working people. For this reason we can be sure that when the queen spoke of business, the code behind this will be organisations such as Nissan, Ford, British Airways etc. This is despite the fact that most job creation happens as a result of the work of Small business and Micro Enterprises. However the reference to ‘Others’ seems very concerning. Is it a catch all? Is it there because the voluntary sector and charities if mentioned by name would be seen as being too threatening to the majority of Tory MPs who consistently ignore this part of society when they ‘listen to their constituents’
It would be fantastic if as a result of the debate about the Queens speech a challenge to explain this terminology could be made. However we know that Parliamentary debates so quickly become focused on party and personal issues. One of our Sussex MPs was involved in the debate about the European Council on Monday which links closely to this element of the Queens speech. Instead of focusing on the issue of how the constituents in Bexhill and Battle who originate from the EU and are unsure about their future feel, or indeed how we can work together to build the broad consensus that the Queen referred to, Huw Merriman appeared determined to take himself and Theresa May back to the sort of debates that would have made sense in their School days:
HM: Before I came to this place, I used to teach effective negotiation skills. Through the Prime Minister, may I invite the Leader of the Opposition to a free trial period?.
TM: My hon. Friend makes a most generous offer, though I suspect the first thing he will have to do is explain to the Leader of the Opposition what a negotiation actually is.
The reality is that the negotiation skills which Huw Merrimans party desperately needs are in ample evidence throughout the House of Commons and indeed in most towns and villages across our nation. However as soon as the focus shifts to personal or party gain, those skills become compromised and disappear. It is impossible to get the best for ones nation if the primary focus is on another priority, this is a lesson that Huw Merriman and Theresa May could potentially learn from the ‘others’ but sadly they failed to identify who they mean by such a vacuous phrase.