Farron: Queen’s Speech is dogmatic assault on civil liberties and empty rhetoric on key challenges

Funnily enough, Liberal Democrats aren’t that impressed with the Queen’s Speech. There certainly is a lot to worry people of a liberal disposition. Three immediately come to mind:

The Queen might as well have said: “My Government will indulge all its prejudices regardless of the evidence.” For “upholding the sovereignty of Parliament and the primacy of the House of Commons” read “My Government will do all it can to avoid being held to account despite only having the support of a third of the electorate.”

The counter-extremism stuff is pretty sinister, as Alistair Carmichael said the other day:

Rumours about what the upcoming extremism bill will include paint a dark picture. The government seems to think that the answer to every problem is to ban it. The last thing we should be doing is driving extremists into the shadows and underground.

The government is not only threatening our safety with this bill but the very fabric of our multicultural society by alienating certain communities.

I’m slightly worried about the adoption measures. If the state is going to remove children and allow them to be adopted by other people, there does need to be proper safeguards. That could and should take time before permanent ties are broken, especially if the parents do not have the support in place to help them overcome their problems.

If you were thinking that you might have heard some of the measures before, you’re right. Tim Farron said:

Only one year in and this Conservative majority is running out of steam.

30 announcements, but 28 have been made before. Weekend prisoners, announced by a weakened Government.

The Queen’s Speech is a stop-gap to give the warring factions of the Tory party a couple of days’ respite from the referendum. It does nothing to address the key issues at stake.

This country’s challenges on education, housing, investment, skills, and the environment are either ignored, or offered nothing more than empty rhetoric.

The Conservatives are continuing their dogmatic assault on civil liberties with the ongoing threat of the snoopers’ charter and an obsession to tear up the Human Rights Act. We will fight them every step of the way.

There are enough re-runs on BBC without having to get the Queen to do her own.

There’s a familiar phrase creeping into our pronouncements. Alistair Carmichael said it on the BBC just after the speech.

Tom Brake tweeted it:

It’s a phrase Scottish Liberal Democrats used a lot during the Scottish Independence Referendum. Given the decline in our health services, schools, police service and the like, it’s certainly true. The SNP did distract us with a 3.5 year referendum campaign and forgot about what they were there to do. The only problem is that those who wanted the referendum didn’t quite see it like that and it wasn’t saying anything new to people who didn’t want the referendum. It was kind of stating the obvious. It might work better in a UK context, especially if Remain manages to build a big enough lead. We shall see.

* Caron Lindsay is Editor of Liberal Democrat Voice and blogs at Caron's Musings

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This entry was posted in Op-eds.


  • Eddie Sammon 18th May '16 - 1:57pm

    All extremists who pose a threat should be locked up until they change their views in either a prison or a rehabilitation centre. I reported a guy who was promoting ISIS on YouTube, a Londoner and former boxer, and he was arrested and charged with terrorism related offences. The police were already aware of him and others probably reported him too.

    However he smartly adds inbetween his propaganda sentences such as “is this what I believe?” and “I’m not condemning or condoning violence”, but he clearly is because he spends all of his youtube videos defending ISIS and even once played their music at the end of one.

    Anyway the guy was found not guilty then laughed at the verdict. It’s not free speech to incite violence and I’ve seem enough evidence to tell me that is what he is doing.

    So I don’t agree with Alistair Carmichael saying we don’t want to drive extremists underground. We certainly don’t want them on youtube using their previous fame to spread terrorist propaganda and walking freely around London.

  • Matt (Bristol) 18th May '16 - 2:52pm

    They’re not taking their eye off the ball, they’re taking the heat off Osborne whilst again putting Gove and Theresa into the firing line to see if they fail in the fight to succeed Cameron.

  • @Eddie
    I think Carmichael’s comments are deeply irresponsible, based as they are on “rumours” rather than actual facts. I’m not sure why his comments are even quoted here since he made them days before the Queen’s Speech.

    The Speech itself has very little detail on any new counter-extremism measures, preferring to wait upon the outcome of a consultation and Louise Casey’s upcoming review. Which all seems reasonable and sensible to me, so why are the Lib Dems trying to kybosh the whole thing before we even know what it will entail? It would be better to await the review and participate constructively in the consultation before jumping to conclusions. It’s very unwise to come out with rhetoric about “alienating communities” without good reason, because as we all know, it’s this perceived “alienation” that is the main driver of young people running off to join IS.

    We don’t stand a hope of tackling extremism unless we do so together. The crucial thing is that the government’s consultation be done properly, and if Carmichael really wants to do some good he should try to ensure that happens. We need broad agreement on the right approach by political parties, Muslim groups, and other relevant people (but probably excluding the NUS who will oppose everything automatically). A failure to do this will lead to another failed initiative, more alienation, and more extremism.

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