Monthly Archives: May 2021

David Laws - Perspective on the Queen's Speech

David Laws – Perspective on the Queen’s Speech

Governments and political commentators tend to get very excited about the annual Queen’s Speech – which sets out the government’s legislative agenda for the year ahead. Many hours are spent in government haggling over the Bills that are to be included and trying to frame a political narrative around what is often a hotch-potch of different measures. But what is actually unveiled is usually rather underwhelming – as it simply sets out the implementation in law of policy that has already been announced. Hence, Budgets are usually more interesting than the “Gracious Speech” – they usually include surprise announcements, and involve financial decisions affecting most adults and businesses.

This year’s Speech is no different – most of it is not a surprise, and represents a re-heating of government agendas on issues such as “levelling up”. “Levelling up” is one of those government slogans that is soon going to need some meat on the bone, rather like Cameron’s “big society”, which never achieved a “fleshed out” state.

What is missing is often more important than what is included, and there are still no detailed plans for the “reform of social care”. The problem with reform of social care is that it is very expensive, and not a bill that the Treasury wants to pay. To the extent that “reform” means more affluent people avoiding social care costs in order to pass on assets to their children, the Treasury is unlikely to consider this to be a priority unless the cost burden is also met by richer, older, people – which Boris Johnson is unlikely to find politically attractive.

As well as matters of public interest, the Queen’s Speech usually contains matters of political interest. Boris Johnson wants to axe the Fixed Term Parliaments Act, so he is free to call the next General Election at a time of maximum political advantage – perhaps in two years time. He might then be helped by another measure tucked away in the speech – to allow people to vote even if they have lived abroad for many years. Mr. Johnson will hope that many such voters will cast their ballots for his party. No wonder the State Opening of Parliament is usually a greater pre-occupation for politicians than it is for the public.

David Laws - View on Elections 2021

David Laws – View on Elections 2021

Statement by Robin Grainger, CEO, GK Strategy:

The activities of a former Prime Minister have been frontpage over recent days and look set to remain so, with several probes and inquiries launched by government and Parliament.

At this time, I want to be clear: At GK, we adhere to the highest ethical standards. We are committed members of our industrys self-regulating bodies, the PRCA and the former Association of Professional Political Consultants. We consistently champion a gold standard for ethical lobbying. We embrace transparency and effective regulation and encourage all those in the industry to do the same.

I am proud of the work GK does as political advisers; to assess political risk, help clients navigate Westminster and Whitehall, and inform and improve public policy making. What we do as strategic advisers isn’t new, and I think it is highly valued. We do this important work whilst complying with and championing ethical standards.

We’re not alone in this. Our industry as a whole has made progress over the past decade to strengthen training, improve its reputation and enforce more robust rules around our ethics.

However, sadly, the actions of a very small number and the resulting ‘lobbying scandals’ are too common. These are mostly, but not exclusively, caused by those operating outside the ethical frameworks set out by industry bodies such as the PRCA (whose members adhere to a code of conduct) and the government’s own regulation.

In addition, current legislation in the UK excludes in-house corporate and charity lobbyists and those current and former politicians who advise independent of political advisory firms. This is not right and I would like this changed. Conversations are taking place about how the legislation to capture those that lobby but fall outside the current rules could be widened.

I want to repeat how seriously GK take our responsibilities and how proud I am of the work we do.