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Reaction to the King's Speech

Updated: Nov 18, 2023

This week the government had the opportunity in the King's Speech to set out its flagship policies for the next year.

It had a chance to set out a plan to renew our economy and public services - however it fell short. While announcements to ban smoking and regulate football are welcome, they do not offer the change the country is crying out for. After 13 years, it is clear the government is out of ideas.

The speech was also overshadowed by the Home Secretary's freelance policy making, and we learned that despite promises to introduce a raft of new laws, including to protect renters and ban conversion therapy, MPs have been sent home early on almost half of their sitting days.

It's time for a government that will work hard for you - to tackle the cost of living, make our streets safe and invest in our public services.

Here are some additional thoughts:

  • Energy security - It was a shock to hear from the Conservative Energy Secretary that during the worst energy bills crisis in generations, their flagship King's Speech energy policy won't even take a penny off energy bills. Labour has made it a mission to make the UK a clean energy superpower to make energy cheap and secure, boost jobs and grow our economy. Instead the government has resolved to provide more tax payer subsidy to oil and gas companies that undermine out energy security and contribute to climate change.

  • Crime - A bill to ensure tougher sentences for the most serious offenders and increase the confidence of victims is welcome, however there is no getting away from the fact that over the last 13 years the criminal justice system is crumbling. This new Bill simply repackages ideas they have announced multiple times. Government should be focused on ensuring police actually solve and prosecute crimes, victims aren't let down by the courts and that prison places are available to keep criminals behind bars. Labour will rebuild confidence in policing and our criminal justice system and get more neighbourhood police back on our streets.

  • Health - The Conservatives have adopted Labour's plan to train the doctors and nurses the NHS needs and to create a smoke-free generation by restricting the sale and marketing on e-cigarettes and tobacco. This is welcome. We would like them to go further and announce a fully-funded plan to provide more appointments to get the NHS waiting list down.

  • Education - The Kings Speech announced a new Advanced British Standard qualification for 16-19 year olds to replace A- and T-levels. Unfortunately, this announcement does nothing to address the attainment gaps that are established in the early part of the education system and widen as children get older. It also fails to address the narrowing of the curriculum to 16, teacher recruitment and retainment, poor mental health in schools and absenteeism. Labour would focus on early child development and primary literacy and numeracy as well as undertake a comprehensive review of the curriculum and assessment. We will support teacher training and the development of technical excellence colleges.

  • AI and technology - Despite its focus during the recent AI Summit and moves by leaders in the US and EU to regulate AI, the King’s speech did not announce any AI safety legislation. AI presents us with the opportunity to revolutionise healthcare, boost the NHS and improve our public services but only if safety is baked in at every stage of the process.

The Prime Minister himself has conceded that the country needs change but arguing that the solution is a fifth Tory term will not wash.

By contrast, Labour will get Britain building again, switch on Great Britain Energy for cheaper homegrown power, get the NHS back on its feet, take back our streets and break down barriers to opportunity.

Labour offer the change we need after 13 years of national decline. I hope we have an opportunity to vote for this change at the next election, sooner rather than later.

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