Queen's Speech Analysis: Boris Johnson Fiddles While Families Struggle

The government's legislative programme contained nothing to provide urgent help on the cost of living crisis.
TOBY MELVILLE via Getty Images

As a lover of Roman mythology, Boris Johnson will be well acquainted with the tale of Emperor Nero fiddling while his city burned.

Regardless of the fact that the story is probably untrue, it has come to symbolise any out-of-touch leader unwilling to take the necessary action to help his people when they are struggling.

So it was with today’s Queen’s Speech. A higher-than-normal 38 pieces of legislation were unveiled, ranging from the Levelling Up And Regeneration Bill to the Brexit Opportunities Bill.

However, there was nothing to address the biggest challenge facing families up and down the country - a cost of living crisis which is only going to get worse in the months ahead.

In his introduction to the legislative programme, the prime minister acknowledged the problem - but insisted the best approach was to take a long-term approach to tackling it.

“For every pound of taxpayer’s money we spend on reducing bills now, it is a pound we are not investing in bringing down bills and prices over the longer term,” the PM said.

“And that if anything, this moment makes clear our best remedy lies in urgently
delivering on our mission to turbo charge the economy, create jobs and spread
opportunity across the country.”

Which is all very laudable, but of absolutely no use to families wondering how they’ll make their budget stretch until the next pay day, or those on benefits having to make the agonising choice between heating their home and feeding their kids.

As Dan Paskins of Save the Children said: “The cost of living crisis is an emergency the UK government should be dealing with right now. The Queen’s Speech was a major opportunity to support those most affected by rising costs, and the government didn’t take it.”

The PM is also taking a massive political gamble as well. With the Tories already trailing Labour in the polls, and the measures the government has already announced widely seen as insufficient, Johnson is hoping that voters - and Tory MPs - give him the time he wants to turn the economy around.

Johnson will be well aware that things did not end well for Nero after he lost the support of his people and his closest aides abandoned him.

The PM will be keen to ensure that the same fate does not befall him.


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