Only a few days to go: We’re raising £25,000 to keep TheyWorkForYou running and make sure people across the UK can hold their elected representatives to account.Donate to our crowdfunder
I certainly would not want to disappoint you, Mr Speaker, so I must rise to the occasion and fulfil your aim for my speech. Like you, I believe it is a politician’s duty to inspire. But I would go further—it is our mission to enthral, but at least we should try to inspire. Too much of modern politics has become peppered with dull managerialism.
G.K. Chesterton said:
“For fear of the newspapers politicians are dull, and at last they are too dull even for the newspapers.”
Any Queen’s Speech is therefore welcome because it sets out a series of measures that we can debate and consider. Indeed, it has enlivened a discussion today that could not have taken place had the Government not set out such a series of measures. The least that can be said of the Queen’s Speech is that it does just that: it is bold, it is fresh and it is evidence of an agenda. Whether it could be said to be a coherent mission or—dare one say?— evidence for a vision is more debatable, but at least it is a fresh start. Many of the measures are necessary, and most are desirable.
The Home Secretary is herself, as I noted when I intervened on her, a breath of fresh air. I am going to say some very nice things about a former Home Secretary in a minute, just in case she was worrying that I would not. The Home Secretary said that many of the measures are to address freedom from fear. Fear and doubt pervade too much of Britain. In too many places, too many people we represent live lives of fear, and crime perhaps strikes the greatest fear in our constituents’ hearts. The continuing threat of terror is the apex of those fears, and, as my right hon. Friend Mrs May, who earlier made such an impressive contribution to this debate, mentioned in her final Prime Minister’s questions, at the Home Office I was able to introduce measures to tackle terrorism, but I could not have done so without her guidance and leadership. There is no one more resolute in their determination to tackle that threat than my right hon. Friend.
The fear that people feel daily, however, is the fear of disorder, and many of the measures in this Queen’s Speech are welcome because they begin to address that kind of disorder. The daily experience of lawlessness blights lives, diminishes communities, damages and sometimes destroys individuals and families. The figures that I looked at in preparation for this debate are stark. The year of my birth was 1958—I know that hon. Members are wondering how that could be so, but I was indeed born in 1958, and you probably know the date, time and place, Mr Speaker, given your approach to these things. In that year, there were 261 murders or manslaughters. In 2018, there were 732. In 1958, there were 1,692 robberies; in 2018, there were 82,566. As far as arson is concerned, the numbers have gone from 722 to more than 25,000. There is no doubt that crime of all kinds has grown at an alarming rate over my lifetime. It has to be said that unfortunately most of the snowflake elite who run too much of Britain are in denial about that and about how to deal with it.