Here’s my latest column from the Ham & High, published on 21 May.
“The Queen’s Speech that starts every Parliamentary year is a chance to set out a vision for the future. After the year we have had, more than ever it should have been a chance to set out a vision for a post-pandemic fairer, greener future. One that acknowledged the bright light Covid has shone on the inequality in our society, the fragile state of so many of our public services after 11 years of austerity and was bold in tackling the genuine challenges we face.
As so often with this Government, it was a missed opportunity. If only Johnson’s Tories could show the same dedication to improving lives as they do to suppressing the right to vote, cracking down on peaceful protest or making it harder to challenge their decisions through the courts.
When he entered office in 2019, the Prime Minister promised on the steps of Downing Street that the Government would fix social care. The social care system is broken, but it only warranted one sentence in the Queen’s Speech. This failure has a real impact every single day, with undervalued and poorly paid social care workers, no security or protection for residents from questionable care home owners – as we saw with the recent closure of Highgate’s Mary Feilding Guild – and families worried sick about the quality of care for elderly and disabled family members.
On the environment, Johnson’s Tories are tinkering around the edges. In the US, President Biden is lighting the way for a green-focused recovery with investment in new industries, technology, research and development. We all know that we have less than a decade to make the bold changes demanded by the UN’s climate body to limit temperature rises, but the Queen’s Speech lacked any programmes or investment to implement the green jobs plan we need to meet the target. In fact, the Government completely scrapped their only green jobs scheme, the green homes grant, after it was outsourced to a private American firm which botched the roll-out.
It does not have to be like this. A better future is possible – a country we can feel proud to grow up in and safe to grow old in—but it will not happen with the Government’s lack of a comprehensive plan for green jobs and a sustainable care sector. After the pandemic we have been through, this is the least we can expect.”