Coffee House

Cameron tries to reassure his backbenchers ahead of the Queen’s Speech

9 May 2012

9:05 AM

9 May 2012

9:05 AM

The newspapers are awash with articles previewing today’s
Queen’s Speech, but few stand out as much as James Chapman’s
interview with David Cameron
in the Daily Mail. Here, Cameron does something that he rarely does: complain about life with the Lib Dems. There was that one time when he claimed the Tories would be ‘making further steps’ on welfare and immigration
were they in a majority government, of course — but this goes further than that. He tells the paper, ‘There is a growing list of things that I want to do but can’t.’

As for the specific items on that list, Cameron mentions ECHR reform, employment regulation and the recognition of marriage in the tax system. For the first two of these, he just leaves it hanging
that a Tory government would be able to achieve more by itself. But for the last, he holds a significant scrap of reassurance up to his party. ‘Clearly on things like recognising marriage in
the tax system, I got a specific carve-out in the Coalition agreement that we could propose something which the Lib Dems don’t have to vote for, but I still think we’d get
through,’ he says; before adding that, ‘That’s something that will be done this Parliament. But obviously in a majority Conservative government, these things would be more


It’s not all about differentiating the Tories from the Lib Dems, though, as Cameron also highlights that the coalition is united on fixing the economy, etc. And this, I imagine, will
increasingly be the way of it from now on: emphasising unity on the core task of deficit reduction, while suggesting dissimilarities around the edges. In the lifespan of a normal government, this
would be about the time when they can no longer rely on blaming the last lot, and have to do more to set out the future they want to see. For a coalition, that process creates divide almost as a
matter of course, given that both of its constituent parts see the future differently.

Whether Cameron’s intervention will placate his more disgruntled backbenchers is another question entirely. My guess is that they’ll deploy the point made by Liam Fox a couple of weeks ago: that the Lib Dems represent only ‘one-sixth’ of the
coalition, so they should expect Tory thinking to prevail more often than not.

Subscribe to The Spectator today for a quality of argument not found in any other publication. Get more Spectator for less – just £12 for 12 issues.

Show comments
  • Archie

    Sorry, Swiss Bob, such language is confined to Guido!

  • Barry

    “and STILL DOES”

    Your cheap crack about suits, which is typical of the tone of most of your contribution, does not alter the fact that there’s little happening on the scale of Lister’s Mill these days.

    I grew up in sight of it and remember the decline of the region, and the reasons for it, extremely well. Don’t lecture me about Bradford. You have nothing to teach.

  • TomTom

    Sorry Barry, I simply thought you should understand that woollen blankets came from Witney and worsted cloth from Huddersfield, Batley and Bradford…and STILL DOES

    I suppose you buy suits with Turkish cloth stitched in Ukraine – upmarket buyers buy Huddersfield worsted and cashmere

  • Barry

    “It was “worsted” not “woollen””

    Really scraping the barrel in order to score points, aren’t you?

  • TomTom

    Peter from Maidstone, I know exactly what i wrote but still want YOU to explain how Parliament spends £550 million

    Matthew Elliott, chief executive of pressure group the Taxpayers’ Alliance, said: “The cost of Parliament is a far too high, and a massive burden on taxpayers.

    The 12 trees and external shrubs at Portcullis House have been costing the taxpayer some £44,000 a year plus VAT for more than a decade.

    Taxpayers face a £1 billion bill to shore up the Houses of Parliament against chronic subsidence, which is already causing Big Ben to lean alarmingly.

  • Peter From Maidstone

    TomTom, I guess you haven’t bothered to think through your comment.

    Bradford Council receives £442 million (I will assume your figure is correct) to provide certain services. (Many other services are obviously provided from other budgets which you are ignoring).

    Parliament recieves £550 million (I will again assume your figure) to provide an entirely different set of services to an entirely different, and national, populace.

    There is no comparison, they are different things. But I am sure that you know this, as you also know that the state opening of parliament is much older than 1852.

  • TomTom

    “the demise of the woollen industry.”

    It was “worsted” not “woollen” but like Leeds a major engineering centre – lots of unemployed HND Engineers because of course Britain needs Bankers not Manufacturing

    Still does not explain why Public Spending is nugatory on 550,000 Citizens and lavish on 7,500 Persons in Parliament – just how do these 7,500 get 25% more Public Spending than 550,000 Citizens ?

  • TomTom

    “it is a divided city “

    Ask Eric Pickles – he ran the Council. That does not explain why £422 million is provided for 550,000 people but £500 million to run Parliament.

    I simply cannot see how Parliament can spend more than the Education, Social Services, Roads, Transport, Refuse, Libraries for 550,000 people.

    It is incredible

  • Barry

    “The State Opening of Parliament originates from 1852”

    No, the present ceremony dates from 1852. Its origins are much older – but I suspect you already know that.

    So far as Bradford is concerned, it might be worth looking closer to home to establish why it is a divided city and why it has singularly failed to attract investment following the demise of the woollen industry.

  • Ex-Tory Voter

    Cameron could have had a proper Tory government if only he’d been a proper Tory. Sadly for him, many of the electorate have seen through wishy-washy, touchy-feely spin à la Tony Blair.

  • TomTom

    “You choose to be insulted”

    I am insulted Barry, yes. Parliament costs £500 million – the IPPR puts out a report showing the most polarised city in the country is Bradford with 20% Muslim population and major poverty among 550,000 Citizens – it gets a Budget of £422 million with cuts every year.

    How can Parliament cost more than 550,000 people ?

  • TomTom

    “but “public school boys”? This is really about inverted snobbery, isn’t it?”

    So Barry, how is it “inverted” ? You are omniscient and know my educational background ? Yes, I do look down on Cameron and Clegg……but I have a wholly unrepresentative Parliament and I am fed up of it.

    The State Opening of Parliament originates from 1852 when Parliament was just as representative of Voters as today. The fact is it costs £500 million and CAUSES most of the problems in the nation.

    I think it should become a London Parliament and let the rest of the nation have something much better

  • Barry

    Tom Tom:

    The Haka is a tradition, like the State Opening of Parliament. Most countries have them. It isn’t difficult to understand.

    You choose to be insulted – but “public school boys”? This is really about inverted snobbery, isn’t it?

  • telemachus’

    Nicholas 1.32

    I cannot live in a world where everything is looked on with such utter gloom.

    “I live in a country where I can no longer speak my mind – or write it. I live in a country where corrupt and power-hungry career politicians sell out my freedoms for their personal gain. I live in a country where the agencies of state enforcement, rather than getting on with exercising the powers they have been granted, lobby publicly in the political arena for more”

    Everything you say here is wrong wrong wrong

    I have never noticed you being afraid to speak your mind, wrongheaded as it may be.

    I know of no freedoms sold out and certainly not for prsonal gain. The rich kids whot currently run us would gain much more in almost any other walk of life that they might turn to.

    Granted that the enforcers need more powers to curb some of the more heinous opinions of the right wing mob that try to foment disorder in these troubled economic times.

    I am particularly sad that in this week of rejoicing when electorates across Europe are pushing the true will of the people that our great and good cannot rejoice with them.

    I feel myself rather as I felt in 1997 (“A NEW DAWN HAS BROKEN, HAS IT NOT?” ) but on a grander European scale

    What we need is to go on to the next bit(“a truly terrible night for the Conservatives” )

    Only then will we all be truly happy seeking growth and prosperity.

    Have faith Nicholas, have faith.

  • Heartless (Romantic) Curmudgeon

    @ Nicholas (both comments) – EXCELLENT! – Thank you!

  • TomTom

    “Would you sneer at, say, the Haka in this way? Of course not.”

    What a Maori war dance has to do with an effective Parliament representative of the nation eludes me. A group of public school boys getting together with the Senior School to have a Speech Day and tell us what exciting bits of frippery will be served for lunch in coming months is frankly an insult.

    By all means run this Theatre for Tourists but at a cost of £500 million each year – more than some cities get in Budget – I think it time that NAtional Interest take precedence over Drury Lane on St Stephen’s Wharf

  • Publius

    @Nicholas (11.19)

    A fine post, Nicholas, and I wholly agree.

    Moreover, it is farcical to suppose that the incompetent bureaucracy will be able to make the kind of technology required work as they intend. It will create chaos — expensive chaos.

  • Nicholas

    telemachus, I am not liberated. I was born a free Englishman but now live in a country where the roles of state and the individual have been reversed, where public “servants” of all descriptions now seek to control and influence what I can or can’t do rather than serve my needs. I live in a country where 75% of the legislation and regulation oppressing me originates from a foreign power in which my country England is poorly represented if at all.

    I live in a country where I can no longer speak my mind – or write it. I live in a country where corrupt and power-hungry career politicians sell out my freedoms for their personal gain. I live in a country where the agencies of state enforcement, rather than getting on with exercising the powers they have been granted, lobby publicly in the political arena for more.

    Liberated? Not yet.

  • Barry

    Tom tom “Why this pantomime of a Queen’s Speech – it is another Victorian piece of theatricality?”

    Would you sneer at, say, the Haka in this way? Of course not.

  • TomTom

    “Never turn your back on our histrorical past. Every step was gained by much blood.”

    Wow, a tradition dating back to 1852…..

  • TomTom


    It is these ceremonials that make England so special – lost on expatriates like you.”

    Nice to be an “expatriate” in England but of course “Expatriate” means Outside London. We find it amusing that London has these Ruritanian traditions – a bit like Snow White at Disneyland – but in England Outside London – we have no interest

  • Andy Carpark

    Nicholas 10:18, I am nodding with approval but note with grim amusement that the shriek about paedophiles comes a fairly distant fourth on the online front page of the Telegraph, behind the following pantomime items.

    1. More measures to help families in Queen’ speech;
    2. Cameron sent supportive text to Brooks;
    3. Duchess of Cambridge dazzles at gala dinner.

  • Ghengis

    Our PM this morning, ‘We are having to do very difficult things, but we are able to do things to ourselves, for ourselves, by ourselves”. –
    ABSOLUTE RUBBISH – We have been stripped of our essential Sovereign powers and can now only do “THINGS” in accordance with the EU’s requirements.

  • Nicholas

    Tulkinghorn, many other issues which have had a profound effect on the risk of terrorism, such as immigration and foreign policies, could have been tackled decades ago had there been integrity and will from our politicians rather than the usual self-serving deceptions. I appreciate you are happy with the crude, sticking plaster approach to the self-inflicted, supporating sores that have been caused by them but not everyone is.

    Monitoring the activities of every subject in case they happen to be a terrorist or a paedophile is un-British. But more than that it is the exact opposite of what this wretched coalition promised. Just because the technology means they can (supposedly) doesn’t mean they should. If a former British government had suggested that the Post Office should keep a record of every address every subject had ever written a letter to in case they needed that information then the public would have been rightly outraged. Personally I am fed up with being presumed and intruded on because of the illegal activities of a minority of criminals. I object to the fact that in more and more dealings with the state and the corporate behemoth the default is suspicion of wrong-doing and that the individual subject is required to prove his or her bona fides – especially as there is little evidence that the real criminals are inconvenienced or prevented. The sledgehammer approach to the nut might or might not be effective but the once great British tradition of balance between the needs of the state and the private rights of the individual has been lost. One might expect that from a Labour government but coming from a supposedly Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition which actually promised something quite different it is appalling.

    You might like it for whatever reason. That doesn’t stop it being appalling.

  • Ian Walker

    All we need is a ‘socialists writing drivel on the internet’ tax and the economy would be sorted overnight. £1 for every pointless telemachus’ post should have the defecit cleared in about a month.

  • strapworld

    As for Cameron. Another day another interview. Forgotten tonight.

    Get rid of this charlatan. If he is a tory then I am a ladyboy.

  • strapworld

    Tom Tom I much prefer this pantomine-as you insult it, ignoring the important constitutional role it has, rather than having the President of the EUSSR determine jus what Wales, Scotland, Ireland and the regions will have to provide in taxation.

    Never turn your back on our histrorical past. Every step was gained by much blood.

  • Swiss Bob

    telemachus’, the ‘Billy Bowden is the greatest umpire ever’ of the Speccie.

  • Tulkinghorn

    I await progress with anti-terrorist legislation. I am hoping Tim Farron has NOT got his way.
    Also keen to see Universities opened to private providers.

  • Nicholas

    David Cameron (or is it Shameron):-

    “Faced with any problem, any crisis – given any excuse – Labour grasp for more information, pulling more and more people into the clutches of state data capture… And the Government doesn’t want to stop with the basic information. They want the most complex, important, personal information there is… Scare tactics to herd more disempowered citizens into the clutches of officialdom, as people surrender more and more information about their lives, giving the state more and more power over their lives. If we want to stop the state controlling us, we must confront this surveillance state.”

    So what do we get once he is in power? Re-heated Home Office wool pulled over Theresa May’s eyes with Shameron spin to justify it. And Clegg should be ashamed of himself being associated with this nasty farce.

  • Nicholas

    “We will be strong in defence of freedom. The Government believes that the British state has become too authoritarian, and that over the past decade it has abused and eroded fundamental human freedoms and historic civil liberties. We need to restore the rights of individuals in the face of encroaching state power, in keeping with Britain’s tradition of freedom and fairness.
    We will implement a full programme of measures to reverse the substantial erosion of civil liberties and roll back state intrusion.”

    So, what do we get in the Queen’s Speech?

    A proposal for a centralised British Stasi. The resurrection of the New Labour demand to extend pre-trial detention to 28 days. The internet surveillance bill where everyone becomes a potential suspect.

    And the usual suspects, the empire builders and ideologues within the growing police state, are shrieking about paedophiles and terrorists to justify it all.

  • Axstane


    It is these ceremonials that make England so special – lost on expatriates like you.

  • Publius

    If the piece in today’s Telegraph is anything to go by, there is nothing in the Queen’s Speech to foster enterprise. Just more tinkering, more tax, more intrusion, more regulation.

  • TomTom

    Why this pantomime of a Queen’s Speech – it is another Victorian piece of theatricality ?

    This place gets more like a TV costume drama each day with the Regency Couple

  • Heartless (Romantic) Curmudgeon

    Again, so very glad to find you haven’t used a cod snap of the H2B against our National Flag. The cold flannel of reality may be coming o’er the feverish brow of the Speccy at long last.

  • 2trueblue

    Cameron does not and did not get his message across to the electorate when we had one of the worst governments in power so it matters little what he does now. He seems unable to communicate what he actually believes and spends more time pandering to the Lib Dems than to the actual electorate. As Fox pointed out they represent 6% of the electorate, and indeed the Tory thinking should prevail, but what is the Tory thinking?

    Cameron needs to use plain words when communicating, not a tricky thing, and just get out there and say exactly what he really means. Just do it, and then at least we will know what he means.

  • telemachus’

    Why cant he actually say it.

    The coalition is not working.

    It can never work.

    How can you marry the most eurosceptic party with the most europhile?

    Hopefully it will all unravel during this parliament.

    Then Nick can pull the plug.

    Then we get to join Hollande with our Balls unity government

    That is the way to growth and prosperity.

  • Hugh

    And presumably these points of difference are carefully chosen to appeal to the British people.