By Max Kilham – staff writer
With the shambles that is Brexit having been further extended to the 31 January 2020, it is important to consider the events leading up to the current political landscape within the United Kingdom.
The Queen’s Speech, which took place last month, is one of these events. The event is held annually in the House of Lords, with the current monarch setting out the government’s plans for the future. The event could be argued to be an extremely meaningful event that unites the major political parties under one banner for a brief period.
However, it is my opinion this years’ speech is merely a tool for political propaganda, used by the government to set out their plans. It is used to rehash and confirm plans for the future whilst providing a secure landing mat for the public to view, accurately, or inaccurately. It must be pointed out that this is not surprising, as the content of the speech is entirely drawn up by the government and approved by the Cabinet.
Also, whilst the speech may not have directly affected the current outcomes of the Brexit negotiations, the backwards and outdated nature of the speech is an accurate representation of the beleaguered state of the Brexit situation.
First, context is needed. In previous centuries, the monarch has had far greater influence within UK politics. However, the prerogative powers of the monarch have gradually been transferred to the Prime Minister. For example, such duties like the signing of treaties and leader of the armed forces are now the responsibility of the Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, rather than Queen Elizabeth II.
Instead of being a prominent figure within politics, the monarch now resides as the head of state, with very limited political influence. From the off, this knowledge sets the tone for the speech every year.
This year, the speech included plans to introduce new sentencing laws, “simpler oversight of pension savings,” as well as the plan to leave the European Union on the 31 st October, “based on free trade and friendly cooperation,” which has obviously not come to fruition.
Despite some specifics being mentioned, the speech became an occasion where as many areas of policy as possible were listed off. It was suggested these would be upgraded, and it’s hardly a bad thing to be aiming to improve as many areas of industry as possible.
However, the Queen was reading the words of the current government, and the list-type format further confirms that it is merely an occasion to present to the public their future plans in an extremely optimistic light. It seems to lack consideration of any hurdles and negatives that may be encountered. Therefore, it has become a tool for political propaganda.
Now, this is not to say that the contents and overall occasion of the speech are any different from previous years. This is consistently the process of the Queen’s speech. So we must consider the other side of the argument. Despite the flaws of the Queen’s speech, the event provides a time the whole nation can tune in and unite under the current government’s plans, despite how strong or flawed they may be. It is a juncture where the country can attempt to finsolidarity, despite the struggles we may be facing.
However, these points have to be considered in the context of the current climate within the UK. We are in the midst of arguably the largest political decision of contemporary times. This is of course the UK’s scheduled exit from the European Union. The significance of this heightens the importance of the Queen’s speech this year.
In this instance, the event was used as a way of quelling the political tensions surrounding Brexit, with the only announcements regarding the exit made up of information that was already common knowledge.
There were blanket statements such as: “My ministers will ensure that all young people have access to an excellent education, unlocking their full potential, and preparing them for the world of work”. It hardly provides the means by which this will be completed, conveying the speech’s true nature as a tool to provide reassurances to the general public. It fails to actually tell us what the policy will be doing . While a detailed bill isn’t expected, greater details wouldn’t hurt.
In the political arena, especially with the current high tensions, a speech written by the cabinet ministers and Prime Minister, strongly suggets this event is a device for political propaganda for the ruling government of the time.
With a General Election on the horizon, it can be expected that propaganda will burst through on all political sides once again. Propaganda will always be prevalent in the world of politics, and the Queen’s Speech is no exception.
Image credit: Julian Calder