It is a pleasure to follow my neighbour, my hon. Friend Christina Rees. The Prime Minister declared this to be a one nation Queen’s Speech for a one nation Government. He said that his Government were a Government for whom
“economic security always comes first”—[Official Report,
Vol. 611, c. 22.]
He said they were a Government with a “long-term economic plan”. But, once again, we have seen nothing to substantiate those grand plans. All we have seen is stasis.
The British economy in its current state is best described by the saying, “All that glitters is not gold.” At first glance there is the semblance of a positive picture, but scratch away at the surface and a very different story emerges: a story of low productivity, ballooning personal debt, a yawning trade deficit, creaking infrastructure, a dangerous over-reliance on financial services and a growing chasm between London and the rest. To put it simply, our economy is too unbalanced and too unstable to be resilient and to serve the British people. It is too short-sighted, too inward looking and far too unequal.
In my constituency, we have seen the costs of the Government’s failure. For more than a year my Labour colleagues and I have called on the Government—we have raised the issue more than 230 times since the general election—to snap out of their stupor and take action to stand up for British steel. We were met with a mixture of indifference and incompetence. Only when the crisis became a PR problem did the Government wake up and seek a last-minute fix to a problem that we have pointed to for a year. The steel crisis really sums up the Government’s approach: it is a problem only when it hits the front pages. If the Government had a real long-term economic plan and a real strategic approach to governing Britain, the crisis could have been averted. Instead, we have a Government with a long-term economic plan that is not a plan at all but a bookkeeper’s to-do list. They are focused only on reducing costs without giving any thought to the generation of revenue through sustainable growth. They think that the solution to everything is to reduce the size of Government and retreat from the challenges of the future rather than addressing the faulty foundations of our economy. That is why the Queen’s Speech was yet another missed opportunity, and that is why I shall vote against it this evening.