The State Opening of Parliament will take place on Wednesday marking the start of a new parliamentary year. It is an occasion full of symbolism and history, with the Queen repeating old traditions.
Whilst most of the pageantry is really a Victorian invention, much of it reflects our much older history as a Parliament. The day has some interesting quirks. For example, a government whip is, by tradition ‘held hostage’ at Buckingham Palace pending the safe return of the monarch. And when the Queen’s messenger – called ‘Black Rod’ walks down to the House of Commons to tell MPs that the speech will start, the door is slammed shut so he cannot enter. This is a tradition that is supposed to show the authority of the elected House of Commons over the unelected monarchy.
The Queen addresses Parliament by announcing an outline the government’s political plans and priorities for the coming year. I would like to hear something that will address the challenges people are facing in their everyday lives for those not helped yet by economic recovery. Youth unemployment is still at an unacceptable level, and people are struggling to find full time employment. All of this is happening when the cost of everyday essentials are putting pressure on people just to get by.
Labour have already promised that they will help people who are struggling by scrapping the bedroom tax, offering a compulsory jobs guarantee, freeze gas and electricity bills, and clamping down on the exploitation caused by zero hour contracts. In addition we would tackle the problem of overblown agents’ fees for rental tenants and excessive rent increases.
We must show a real alternative to the government’s approach by listening to people so we can implement policies that will make a difference to their lives under a Labour government next year. Policies that will help the many and not just the few.
By Alison McGovern for Wirral News 4/6/2014