Tradition is a fine and noble thing when it serves some purpose. When it doesn’t, it’s obstructive and futile. The Queen’s Speech to Parliament, that’s scheduled for tomorrow, marks the start of the new session in Parliament. Her speech is a tradition that dates back several centuries. Its drama involves the mounted cavalry, old men in ceremonial tights and the bizarre ritual of members of Parliament being called to listen to the speech in the House of Lords. Quite a performance all around.
At its heart the speech has a purpose. And that’s he purpose of laying out the Government’s legislative programme for the year ahead. So, the Government writes the speech and the Queen reads it.
The ceremony and pageantry reflect the historical record of Parliament winning rights and freedoms from the Monarchy. The symbolism, reflected in the speech’s content, indicates who’s really in charge. And, of course, we must not confuse this speech with the Queen’s Speech at Christmas. She’s very much in charge of that one!
But the Government broke tradition in 2010 when they announced that a delay to the next Queen’s speech until 2012. The reason? Because it gave the Government time to act after the 2010 election. So, there was a purpose.
But, such a delay to the Queen’s speech is not without precedent. However, they haven’t delayed the speech for 50 years.
What has not changed, however, is the super-charged debate and idle speculation about the contents of the 2012 Queen’s Speech. Such interest is heightened by the relative drubbing of the coalition government in the local elections last week.
This year’s Queen’s Speech to Parliament is unlikely to carry surprises. Most of the speech has already been pondered before its release. So, it’s the speculation and interest aroused by the Queen’s speech that points to this particular tradition not being futile or obstructive.
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