Today saw the State Opening of Parliament, and carried out in its usual pomp. If there’s one thing we do well, it’s pageantry.
The Queen delivered the Conservative programme for the next 12 months, which you can read here.
Our “friends” from the SNP made yet another holy show of themselves. When SNP leader in the Commons, Angus Robertson made his reply to the speech, SNP MPs thought it appropriate to applaud him, breaking a long-established tradition in the House. Speaker John Bercow had to reprimand the party and told them to “show some respect”. This is not the first time the SNP has shown disregard to protocol, and likely won’t be the last.
It was a bit too much for veteran Labour MP Dennis Skinner, who has a reputation for heckling during the Queen’s Speech debate. His reason for restraint is apparently because he is having to stop the new intake of SNP members taking his seat on the opposition front bench. He is allegedly having to get up at 6am to ensure he gets his spot. Skinner has sat in the same place for many a long year, and the SNP seem to forget this unwritten convention. Another example of their disregard for parliament.
The EU referendum looks to be the centrepiece for the forthcoming year, and is probably the most important question of recent years. As the referendum draws closer, the debates will get hotter. Expect fireworks in the Commons.
Scotland got some extra powers, and David Cameron told the SNP to stop talking and start acting. My opinion is that Cameron didn’t go far enough. He should have called the SNP’s bluff and imposed devo-max. It’s considered that this would reveal an £8bn black hole in Scottish finances, and would weaken the party in Scotland.
The government programme for the forthcoming year isn’t exciting. It isn’t revolutionary in scope. It doesn’t have the feeling of a “new dawn”. It is practical in nature.
Let’s see how Cameron’s thin majority copes with any dissent in the Tory ranks, of which there will be plenty.