The Queen’s Speech

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Hands up if you watched the film “The King’s Speech” last year?  Even the most hardened anti-monarchist couldn’t fail to be moved by Colin Firth’s portrayal of King George VI overcoming a debilitating stutter in order to speak to the nation at the outbreak of WW2.  His (George’s, not Colin’s…) daughter, our current Queen, has today given her own speech to open a new session in parliament.

Unlike King George, the Queen didn’t write this speech – it’s written by the government to announce what bills they plan to turn into laws over the next year.  In today’s speech, the government reiterated their commitment to Britain’s aid budget but there was absolutely no mention of the promised legislation.

Let’s be clear about one thing – it is absolutely fantastic that this government are sticking to their commitment to the aid budget, even in difficult economic times.  As my colleague Laura blogged recently, “UK aid will put 15.9 million children in school, protect 5.8 million mothers during childbirth, provide safe drinking water to 17 million people and help over 9 million people overcome malnutrition in the next four years.”  If they’re going to meet the target, then why does legislation matter?

Lessons from the Australians

I think the King’s Speech was such a hit because of the relationship which developed between King George and his Antipodean speech therapist Lionel Logue.  For those who missed it, it was Logue who taught the King how to combat his stammer.  Forgive me for stretching the link here, but some news from Australia last night reminds us why legislation is so important.  We heard that the Australian government is breaking the promises they made on aid.

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We’ve fought long and hard for the aid budget in the UK and that has resulted in life-changing results for the world’s poorest.  Unfortunately, our Australian friends show just how easily government promises can be broken.  Legislation cannot be brushed aside so easily, and that’s why it’s so important.  Today’s speech was a missed opportunity to protect the aid budget now and in the future.  Let’s hope that next year’s speech keeps the promise.

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