It is a sign of the Prime Minister’s new found defensiveness that he is saying to the Daily Mail things they want to hear, and his team are stressing that today’s Queen’s Speech is no big deal compared with the ‘plan’ to get the economy sorted and growing again.
Indeed, such is the playing down of the significance of this legislative programme that The Queen would be well entitled to read the papers, take a peek out of the Buck House window at the teeming rain, wonder why she should be bothered, and go back to bed.
Yet when you fight your way through the defensiveness, there seem to be plenty of interesting issues coming forth, if not the famous ‘theme’ that is so hard to get when putting together what is inevitably a hotch-potch of measures to deal with a range of very different challenges. But, with the usual caveat about devils and detail, help for children with special educational needs, moves to speed up care and adoption, and family-friendly working hours all seem worthwhile (though the best family-friendly policy would be one that created jobs). Likewise they seem to want to do something on executive pay, though I suspect with less vigour than they want to make it easier to dismiss people from work.
Meanwhile, the PM’s interview in the Mail (no I haven’t bought it, but the Labour Party media brief tells me all I need to know) sets out what he cannot rather than what he can do with power. ‘So much I want to do but can’t,’ is the headline, the ‘can’t’ being the brake applied by the Lib Dems. It is rare for Cameron to highlight the downside rather than the upside of coalition, and this could be the first step in the decoupling strategy as the next election nears.
He emphasises that he wants to win the next election and lead a Tory-only government, and much of the message in the Mail is aimed at those on the right of his party who want him to head their way on the political spectrum. It is a sign of the weaker position he finds himself in that he appears to be ensuring a smile on their face this morning.
Similarly, Nick Clegg’s next big sit-down interview will be worth reading.