Socialist Worker

Theresa May serves up a weak and nasty queen's speech

by Sadie Robinson
Issue No. 2560

Protesters in Leeds on Saturday

Protesters in Leeds on Saturday (Pic: Neil Terry)


Hundreds protested against Theresa May’s queen’s speech at Parliament Square last night, Wednesday. 

Chants of “May must go” and “Justice for Grenfell” rang out from the young and angry crowd. 

Maliha, a protestor, told Socialist Worker, “We're here to tell Theresa May she does not have a mandate and that we don't want a Conservative government.”

Part of the protest at Parliament Square

Part of the protest at Parliament Square (Pic: Socialist Worker)


Around 200 people then marched on Downing Street and back, blocking traffic along the way.

Tare, another protester, told Socialist Worker "I'm really hopefully Theresa May will go, but we need to think about what next after that. 

“It's the Tories, not just May that’s the problem."

May’s queen’s speech, delivered earlier that day, piled further humiliation on the Tories. Her manifesto during the general election was full of nasty promises – on top of the savage cuts the government had already announced.

Yet the vast majority of these attacks had vanished from the queen’s speech. It showed just how weak May’s government is following a disastrous general election that resulted in the Tories losing their majority and a hung parliament.

May had threatened to bring in new selective grammar schools and to scrap universal free school meals for primary schools. She said winter fuel payments would be means tested and her infamous “dementia tax” would have snatched more money for older people who need care.

She said the pensions triple lock, which guarantees pensions will rise by at least 2.5 percent each year, would go. She said there would be a free vote on whether to repeal the ban on hunting foxes with dogs.

None of this is in the queen’s speech. Now there will be a “consultation” on proposals for changes to social care. May also unsurprisingly scrapped her pledge to put a cap on energy bills.

The queen’s speech shows up the Tory weakness and everyone who wants to see the back of them should celebrate that. May recognised her weakness saying that she would work hard to gain “the trust and confidence of the British people”.

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May hopes that support from the bigots in the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) will help her cling onto government. But she knew that it will be impossible to get many of her policies through, so she dropped them.

Some 27 bills and draft bills were included in the speech. Eight focus on Brexit.

The Repeal Bill will give parliament power to amend European Union rules and regulations in terms of how they apply in Britain. MPs would eventually be able to repeal EU laws.

Another Brexit bill would change nuclear regulation and safeguards in Britain after leaving the EU’s Euratom, which promotes nuclear energy.

The other focus is on attacking Muslims and migrants. May plans to bring in a new Commission for Countering Extremism that will support the government in “stamping out extremist ideology in all its forms”.

Crackdown

The speech pledges to review counter-terror strategy to make sure the cops have “all the powers they need to protect our country”. This is a signal that the Tories plan even harsher crackdowns on Muslims.

Meanwhile the Immigration Bill would abolish European Union (EU) free movement rules after Brexit.

Plans for hated US president Donald Trump to be honoured with a state visit to Britain have also been dropped. Planned state visits are usually mentioned in the queen’s speech.

May, already facing protests against her government and over Grenfell, wants to avoid more angry demonstrations. Trump had said he didn’t want to come to Britain because he feared there would be protests against him.

There were some things that May hopes will sound like she is serious about wanting to govern “for everyone” in a “fairer Britain”.

The speech included plans to bring in new protections for victims of domestic abuse. This is a joke given the Tories have slashed funding for services that support women trying to escape abuse.

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Similarly a Draft Tenants’ Fees Bill promises caps on deposits and a ban on landlords and agents charging letting fees. But the real problem is that housing has been handed over to private landlords charging sky high rents for cramped homes.

The Grenfell Tower fire, which saw May heavily criticised for her response, pushed her to announce plans for a Civil Disaster Reaction Taskforce. The speech also confirmed plans for a public inquiry into the fire.

The conditions that led to the disaster – council underfunding of housing, cuts to the fire service – remain in place.

MPs will vote on the queen’s speech on Thursday of next week, by which time there may or may not be a government. First secretary of state Damian Green said a deal with the DUP may not have been struck by the then.

Talks with the DUP are still “ongoing” according to the Tories, while the DUP said its support for May can’t be “taken for granted”.

May is on the rocks and there’s a real chance that she could be forced out, leaving the Tories even weaker. The mainstream media has attacked people for coming onto the streets to protest – whether over Grenfell or the Tories.

But actively resisting the Tories is the best response we can have – and it gives us the best chance of forcing May out. Every activist and trade unionist must throw themselves behind building it.


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