The week’s big set-piece political moment saw a very grand and aristocratic lady carrying out with her usual aplomb a ceremonial role of which, though it is familiar and recurring, she never seems to tire. One refers, of course, to Harriet Harman to whom the job periodically falls of leading the Labour Party in an acting capacity, while its real leader is indisposed. On this occasion the indisposition has been self-inflicted, although unkind observers might point out that Ed Miliband makes a better Labour leader now he has stopped doing the job than before he did so. Ms Harman, by contrast, is a highly accomplished acting leader: though not a politician to whom compliments readily cling, she is someone whom most people would agree makes a good caretaker. This is both out of sympathy to her failed ambitions, as well as comfort at the certainty that there is a time when she will have to stop doing it.

Empowered by her acting status, Ms Harman has ruled out the eccentric idea that when Labour do get round to electing a proper leader –which will not be until September – he or she should come attached to a three year expiry date. Such is the confidence currently coursing through the people’s party that many of its members cannot trust themselves to find someone to lead them who will be good for more than 36 months. It is true that this idea originated with Tristan Hunt, who must therefore calculate that three years is what it will take for his party to become reconciled to the idea of being led by a man called Tristan. This is a risky strategy since it is evidently Labour’s destiny to be led once again by a man called Keir. Now that the former Director of Public Prosecutions is ensconced for Holborn & St Pancras, someone fitting that description is waiting in the wings. When the time comes, Keir versus Tristan will be the ultimate old against new Labour battle. Meanwhile, the party must go through a period of agonised introspection. This can get to be too much of a good thing. Another of Ms Harman’s decisions has been to announce a “truth and reconciliation commission” under the former foreign secretary Margaret Beckett. Appalling though the failure of the country to elect a Labour government undoubtedly was, there must be some doubt as to whether it is a tragedy to rank against 46 years of apartheid rule in South Africa.

The full horror of the Tory alternative was unveiled in words scripted for Her Majesty during the ritualised splendour of the Queen’s Speech on Wednesday. Absent from this year’s ceremony was its most cherished aspect, which is one of Dennis Skinner’s plodding remarks, made during a brief moment as Black Rod clears his throat. Once uttered, these are annually fabricated by the press into the belief that Oscar Wilde comes back to us once a year in the counter-intuitive guise of the Beast of Bolsover. This year, it seems that Mr Skinner could not conjure up the appropriate aperçu. Either that or there was a Scottish Nationalist sitting on him.

Ms Harman had warned the nationalists against tangling with the Beast, though that was not the most remarkable part of her speech responding to the Address. That honour must surely go to the astonishing revelation that once upon a time she fancied Simon Burns, a former Conservative minister, now principally known for his serial antagonism towards Speaker Bercow. Mr Burns, said Harriet, had once reminded her of a dashing Robert Redford, a persona which, we can be almost certain, has never occurred to anybody else in the world, including Mrs Burns. Anyway, since Ms Harman casts glances towards Mr Burns, and Mr Burns has the hots for Hillary Clinton, we have the makings of an intriguing plot developing here. All it takes could be for Mrs Clinton to be secretly in love with Harriet Harman and Shakespeare would get a three act comedy out of this. This notion is not as outlandish as it sounds: after all Mrs Clinton and Ms Harman have in common the belief that being female is, by itself, entitlement to high office, and if that is not enough to bind them together, what is?

Tagged by the Prime Minister as a “one nation Queen’s Speech from a one nation Government”, the embellished list of legislative proposals contained nothing to overwhelm us with its audacity. The Full Employment and Welfare Benefits Bill will, it seems, create two million more jobs by the end of the Parliament which is an excellent idea. It is amazing really that Ramsey McDonald never thought of passing one of those in the 1930s. Now that they have an unfettered grip on power, the Tories will also pass a law to prevent them from putting up taxes. Time was when the Conservative Party felt that it had enough self-restraint on such matters without making for itself a statutory strait-jacket. However, in order to demonstrate to the people that he “gets” their abiding distrust of politicians, Mr Cameron has to show that the abiding distrust is something he fully shares himself. Her Majesty should though be disappointed since there was nothing in the Speech about passing a law preventing the Tories from abolishing the monarchy.

The much-vaunted promise of a “British Bill of Rights” must wait another day, since it is now down to clever Michael Gove to find out how on earth that would work. Magna Carta having struggled on for eight hundred years, its shift will be extended for at least another year. One must feel sorry though for the Barons of Runnymede, since there is no one to make their case that, by allowing Gove to tinker with their legacy, he will pitch us back into an era when the King can pop round without so much as a by your leave and nick your Nintendo. There is, of course, no shortage of lawyers and lobbyists telling us that this would be the effect of liberating the stewardship of our human rights from the European court.

Those who wish to liberate Britain from Europe full stop will have to vote “no” on the ballot sheet in the referendum proposal being advanced by Mr Cameron. This is held to be a major psychological barrier, and thus a boost for those who want to keep us in the European Union. Unconvinced that this will be enough, forces are beginning to muster in the House of Lords to amend the legislation so as to extend the referendum franchise to children, foreigners, former members of the European Commission and anyone else who can be relied upon to vote “yes”.

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