This was the emphasis placed on neutralising the threat of Scottish independence and importance of Boris Johnson’s levelling up agenda – even though the Queen did not utter these words. Instead both issues were couched in terms of “a national recovery” and “to ‘level up’ opportunities across all parts of the United Kingdom”.
Now it is important that the Government changes its tone towards the devolved nations and shows how this Queen’s Speech can be a watershed and demonstrate that the UK’s best days do still lie ahead – this was one of the subliminal messages.
And while the desire “to level up opportunities” provides a definition of sorts for one of Mr Johnson’s flagship domestic policies, few, not least his own equivocating Cabinet ministers, are much wiser about the objectives.
It certainly does not bode well when the pandemic’s economic after-shock has, indeed, accelerated the need for targeted intervention across a range of services, to those communities that motivated the initial impetus for the Northern Powerhouse.
What is required, more than ever, is joined-up government. Welcome measures to reform education for older teenagers and adults reflect these times, but they needs to be in addition to measures to boost literacy and numeracy in all schools – too many children, even before the pandemic compounded social inequality, lacked basic skills.
The question is whether Mr Johnson can actually bring about equality of opportunity for all now that the Queen has spoken the words ‘level up’.
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