Disappointingly the Queen did not use her speech to declare for Leave….

In the week when Benedict Cumberbatch came out for Britain remaining in the European Union, attention naturally shifted to whether other national treasures, icons and emblems of British values would follow suit. Luckily, the Queen was also booked to do a public gig. Would Her Majesty, piqued perhaps by Mr Cumberbatch’s recent portrayal of her ancestor Richard III, his naked villainy clothed in such holy writ of the EU as its Airborne Noise Issued by Household Appliances Directive, also take the chance to declare for go or stay? The matters at stake are, after all, rather close at hand for the current holder of the hollow crown. It must be hard not to take the issue of sovereignty somewhat personally when you are the sovereign.

Her Majesty being, under the terms of our constitutional monarchy, not only the fons et origo of the Government’s prerogative, but also its mouthpiece, one assumes that she is more or less bound to support remain. This may impose a strain, for example if her consort is of a mood to rant at her about how badly Angela Merkel has treated his native land, but the Queen must do as her Prime Minister bids. This is one of many things that sets her apart from the Parliamentary Conservative Party, some others being dignity, loyalty and an instinct for survival.

David Cameron has, of course, granted dispensation to any of his ministers who wish to campaign against his own position on the referendum, but it is not apparent that this privilege extends to the monarch. This is a shame. One senses that the Queen would be something of a star for the Leave cause. She would be especially good on the subject of foreigners coming over here and taking our jobs: able to cite precedent in the case of the throne going all the way back to the Glorious Revolution, if not 1066. To which Remain would retort that the Queen is a shining example of immigrants giving more in to the country’s coffers than they take away.

The Queen’s Speech – her 63rd – instead contained nothing of controversy and almost nothing of interest. One could tell that it was going to be a slow speech day when we had only got to point seven and Her Majesty was already obliged to refer to the Northern Powerhouse. Sounding like a discount electrical retailer with stores in Bolton, Wigan and Huddersfield, the Northern Powerhouse is, in fact, a creation of the Chancellor, George Osborne, designed to fit comfortably onto press releases and give a platform to his political opponents. Like Mr Osborne itself, its allure is rather more theoretical than actual.

One such opponent, Andy Burnham, the shadow home secretary, announced that he would be seeking office as the mayor of Manchester, one of the livings available in the NP diocese. It is not yet clear that the mayor of Manchester will be a power in the land – indeed the NP concept is so weakly sculpted that he may not even be a power in Manchester – but Mr Burnham seemed to think that it would be a suitable repository for talents previously deemed surplus to the requirements of the Labour Party.  The people of Manchester, he implied, would flock to his banner because they had heard of him. It was not necessarily the strongest election pitch, but strong election pitches have never been Mr Burnham’s forte,

The delicate tribalism of the north being what it is, Mr Burnham was immediately confronted with questions as to whether a scouser such as he could realistically hope for office 35 miles up the Ship Canal. His answer to this was Wayne Rooney, a footballer who once played for Everton but now does so for Manchester United. He may wish to reflect on the fact that if your best answer to any question is Wayne Rooney, it may be time to lay down your Twitter account and seek a position on the local parish council.

So insipid was the Queen’s Speech that even Jeremy Corbyn – who would denounce a bus timetable if you told him it had been written by a Tory – found relatively little to object to in it. Instead he concentrated on whether the Queen would actually ever be required to sign any of the 21 bills she had just announced. This was not entirely a bogus question. Though the notional possessor of a Parliamentary majority, Mr Cameron finds that the number of Conservative MPs giving him numerical advantage over all the other parties is easily outweighed by the number who would cheerfully drown him in a butt of malmsy. By about four to one at the latest count.

So great is the contempt in which the Tory right hold their leader that they will even take the side of the National Health Service, that great, infuriating, socialist bête noire, against him. Thus a gang of right-wing terriers threatened an amendment to scupper the entire legislative package unless measures were taken to protect the NHS from TTIP. Few are the Parliamentarians who know what TTIP stands for, and even fewer who know what it is; yet it is widely assumed to contain mechanisms that would enable Americans to privatise the NHS. If anybody is going to privatise the NHS it will be the terriers of the Tory right themselves. They do not need the yanks to do it for them, especially through an agreement mid-wived by the European Union. It would be like the Second World War all over again.

Talking of which, references to Hitler and to Brexit-induced global conflagration were down this week, suggesting that the referendum debate may now have reached the maturity we might expect of 11 year olds. The Prime Minister did manage to slip in that he thought that Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the head of ISIS, would be a Brexit man, though more presumably of the leave.eu stripe than the semi-sanitised Vote Leave. In Pakistan, a US-drone strike took out Mullah Akhtar Mansoor, the leader of the Taliban. Sadly  this was not before anyone had got round to asking how he would have voted if he’d had a chance on June 23rd.

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