Tuesday 6 November 2007

A good Queen's Speech

Today's Queen's Speech has a stronger sense of purpose than Gordon Brown's critics give him credit for. The raising of the education participation age has been accompanied by a welcome recognition that it is apprenticeships and part-time work-based training that will be key to its successful implementation. Yesterday's paper (pdf) from Ed Balls was a good start in putting flesh on a policy that will still be a hard sell. Nobody should doubt the need for further security measures, though as David Aaronovitch points out today, there is still some confusion in people's minds about the issue. There are sensible measures on nuclear power and climate change; and to increase house building and tackle hospital hygiene. Moreover, with little fanfare, the latest Populus poll for The Times puts Labour one point ahead and leaves Brown ahead of Cameron on important leadership questions, despite some narrowing of the gap. The challenge now for the Prime Minister is to turn the seriousness of purpose in this Queen's Speech into strong goverance matched by a proper sense of strategic direction. But regardless of the Cameron jokes, today should go some way towards undoing the damage of the conference season.

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