Queen’s Speech: Reactions from trade unions, charities and others

© House of Lords 2017 / Roger Harris

The Queen’s Speech delivered this morning set out the government’s domestic policy wishlist. Below is our round-up of reactions from trade union leaders and other key organisations, to be updated as more come in…

Dave Prentis, UNISON

The general secretary of the UK’s largest trade union struck a remarkably positive note as he welcomed the increased funding for public services – though remarked that austerity could have ended “a long while ago”.

He commented: “After years of painful cuts, health, schools, town hall and police employees will be relieved. Public services are at long last to get the funding so cruelly denied them.

“But if ending austerity were so easy to end, it’s a pity the government couldn’t have scrapped its damaging economic policies a long while ago. Services are at breaking point and will need substantial investment if they are to recover – especially social care.

“We’ll all be expecting the government to keep its promises. Now isn’t the time for game playing or cheap political stunts. Next month’s Budget must deliver for public services.”

Frances O’Grady, TUC

“This Queen’s Speech was a political stunt, not a serious set of commitments,” the TUC general secretary said. “If Boris Johnson really wanted to rebuild Britain, he wouldn’t be threatening working families with the hardest possible Brexit. Working people shouldn’t trust this Prime Minister.”

Manuel Cortes, TSSA

Similarly, TSSA’s general secretary called it “a pathetic publicity stunt”. He used typically strong language to say: “Johnson’s government has already lied to the Queen had Parliament unlawfully suspended and today he has once again attempted to use the Monarch for nothing more than a cheap party political broadcast.”

The transport union leader also specifically criticised the government’s plans for railways, on the basis that the promise to scrap the franchising system does not go for enough. “Anything that falls short of full public ownership of our railways amounts to tinkering at the edges,” Cortes commented. “The British travelling public have had enough of franchising – full stop.”

Joseph Rowntree Foundation

JRF, an independent charity that has recently focussed its work on low-income voters, concluded that the Queen’s Speech failed to address the concerns of that group. Executive director Claire Ainsley said: “Today’s speech may have been billed as offering an optimistic vision of the future but if you are struggling to get by you will have seen very little action today to loosen the grip of poverty.”

Josh Hardie, CBI

As you might expect, the CBI deputy director-general was fairly optimistic about the policy announcements. Hardie said the Prime Minister’s vision could “excite enterprise and drive growth” and particularly welcomed the points-based immigration system. However, he did include a caveat.

“But it is impossible to ignore the Brexit straight-jacket. The reality of no deal is that it would set the country back. To deliver the ambition set out in the Queen’s Speech, the will to get a deal must unlock a way to build a new, closely aligned relationship with the EU.”

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