by RAY FLEMING

ALTHOUGH he was criticised for even mentioning it, the Liberal Democrats' leader Nick Clegg may have had a point when he suggested that yesterday's Queen's Speech was totally unnecessary. The Commons has only just over four months left before it will be dissolved for the general election and the House of Lords, which will have to review and approve any legislation, has only thirty-three working days before that deadline. So only a few of the fifteen Bills tabled by the Government yesterday will stand any chance of passing into law. However, to dismiss everything in the Queen's Speech as “electoral window dressing” is wrong. How many votes are there, I wonder, in a Bill concerned with flood and water management?

Tradition may have been maintained yesterday but in reality the Queen was invited to fire the starting gun for the general election. David Cameron certainly saw it that way and he was quick to take the opportunity of itemising every one of Gordon Brown's failures as Chancellor of the Exchequer and Prime Minister. He was entitled to say that the Prime Minister has “presided over the longest, deepest recession in recent memory” but I wish he would stop relating the present global crisis to Mr Brown's past claim to have avoided “boom and bust” in normal times, which he can reasonably claim to have done. Clearly, after yesterday's exchanges, we are going to have one of the longest election campaigns ever known.

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