20 November 2006

Repeat after me, I am Leader of Her Majesty's Opposition

You may not know this, from the antics of the Boy-King of the Conservative Party (to give it its official rather than accurate name), but the Queen opened the new session of Parliament last week. In fact, this Blog covered her speech and its ramifications.

What some of our readers, particularly if they do not live in this country, may not realize is that the Queen’s Speech is debated in both Houses for several days, each day being devoted to one or two subject. So, errm, where are the Prime Minister and the Leader of the Opposition? Away, that’s where.

The PM is visiting the troops in Afghanistan. At least, he can claim that it is part of his job and, really, there is no convenient time for that if you start looking at the parliamentary calendar. Except that the beginning of last week was, as Parliament was not sitting.

But why is the Boy-King not in his place, leading the charge? My colleague has dealt with it in part, but I should like to raise other aspects of this issue, not just defence or toys.

Firstly, parliamentary democracy. Yes, I know that to most intents and purposes, it has been abolished in this country, but is that why the Boy-King is absent from his duty? Judging by his inane comments on the subject of “Europe” (must not bang on about it) he has no clear understanding of the way legislation is done in this country, by which I mean the European Union. So, why is he not in the Commons? Does he not think debating the Queen’s Speech is important?

Secondly, his appearance in Darfur. Has he said anything of any interest?
The point of being here is to keep the pressure up on the Sudanese government to reach a proper settlement that will involve a ceasefire, a vastly increased peacekeeping force to stop attacking civilians and also to restart the political process.

The visit tomorrow to the camps gives me a chance to meet people who have been displaced from their homes and to hear their stories about what has been happening in Darfur.
Yeah, right. What kind of pressure can this wretched man bring on the Sudanese government that is arming, financing and training the janjaweed militias? He might conceivably start voicing the view that no more money is to be handed over to Sudan either by Britain or the EU (or, for that matter, the UN) until some sort of order exists in Darfur, which is not the peace of the graveyard but that would not be in line with his new caring view of the world and Conservative foreign policy.

Then again, did he have to go to the camps to know what is going on? Do these unfortunate people need to have the indignity of being stared at by Compassionate Dave and his mates? How did they get there, by the way? Private plane? What of those emissions that Compassionate Dave is so worried about?

Apparently, there was another outbreak of violence this week-end. Oh dear.
The killing needs to stop and I read the reports of the attacks at the weekend in which a lot of people died.
Who writes his script? Actually, I know. One Danny Kruger and one Douglas Smith.

Of course, Darfur is a huge problem, an enormous sore on the world’s conscience. But unless the Boy-King can come up with some practical solutions, there is no point in having meetings with Sudanese ministers and making vaporous comments about the need for international action. Does he have any suggestions as to what Britain can do? It seems not.

Thirdly, there is the point made by the Daily Telegraph that the double reason for the Boy-King’s high profile and completely pointless visit to Darfur is “to take on Gordon Brown on territory - Africa and the Third World - which the Chancellor has tried to make his own. The Tory leader wants to show there are not any no-go areas for his party” and to “re-write Conservative foreign policy so it focuses more on the world’s most pressing humanitarian crisis”.

In what way is Africa and the Third World – rather a large proportion of the world – Gordon Brown’s own territory. It is true that he rushes around periodically, trying to pretend that he is suitable prime ministerial material by promising to sink yet more of the taxpayers’ money into the global black hole called foreign aid but surely one can take him on by simply producing the odd idea or two as to how Britain might be of some real help to the developing and not so developing countries. (Hint: there is very little to be done while our policy is submerged into that of the EU).

As for re-writing Conservative foreign policy, my first reaction to that was sheer astonishment. I had no idea that there was a Conservative foreign policy in the modern, compassionate, ever-changing Conservative Party.

If it does have a foreign policy, clearly it needs to be changed and re-written. After all, we cannot have a situation where the present Party is confused with, say, Margaret Thatcher’s Party. For one thing, she used to win elections. But to re-write it so that it focuses on one particular crisis about which we can do nothing? That’s it? Should a foreign policy not have a few other issues to concentrate on? Such as, for instance, Britain’s national interests, if only we can define them? Or our relationship with other countries, such as the United States or Australia?

It would appear that there is a confusion in the mind of Compassionate Dave and his acolytes, including his speech writers, between policy and meaningless hand-wringing.

Meanwhile, what are is to be done about the Queen’s Speech, which included quite a number of rather nasty legislative proposals?