King Charles III made his first speech to parliament as the British monarch yesterday. “The “Speech from the Throne”is a key part of the State Opening of Parliament ceremony, marking the start of the parliamentary year. The speech is written by the government, so it is essentially Sunaks speech. therefore it is unsurprising that it “outlined priorities” set by the UK government. While failing to address many important areas, plans were reiterated to increase powers of surveillance or as Silkie Carlo, Director of Big Brother Watch terms it, the “Snoopers Charter” and also showed the UK Government’s almost complete disregard for human rights according to Amnesty UK
There was also a complete disregard for the excess deaths in Britain, the barbaric war crimes, and calls for a ceasefire in Gaza, and much more, including the fact that
“People are sitting at home unable to pay their electricity bills…. & then you see all this pomp & ceremony… I’m not sure this is the right image that anybody wants to be seeing… said Kirsty Blackman (SNP MP) – (source).
She makes a very good point.
The speech included 21 pieces of legislation, notably, lower than the 38 bills announced in the Queen’s Speech, which King Charles delivered in his mother’s absence, in May 2022. and despite knowing what the Bills were this time, he said that his Government’s priority “is to make the difficult but necessary long-term decisions to change this country for the better”.
More Power to the Snoopers Charter
However, the government’s policies the King highlighted would certainly not change the country for the better, according to Silkie Carlo, Director, of Big Brother Watch who said the plans “add yet more spying powers to the “Snoopers’ Charter” that the Government says will give them the power to veto private tech companies’ privacy and security features.
Such powers would be more extreme than even the world’s most despotic regimes.” she says.
She tweeted on the X platform “This would be yet another Bill that would exert extraordinary control to treat private companies as extensions of the state in order to conduct mass surveillance of millions of law-abiding citizens. It would be a major blow to the population’s security.” –
“The King’s Speech also referred to plans for a new, incredibly dangerous Bill enabling mass spying on millions of innocent people’s bank accounts,” added Silkie Carlo, “These are extremist proposals that would make tech work against, rather than for, the public.”
Responding to plans to reform the Investigatory Powers Act, Silkie Carlo, director for Big Brother Watch said:
“The King’s Speech revealed plans to add yet more spying powers to the Snoopers’ Charter. The government says it will give them the power to veto private tech companies’ privacy and security features. Such powers would be more extreme than even the world’s most despotic regimes.
This would be yet another Bill that would exert extraordinary control to treat private companies as extensions of the state in order to conduct mass surveillance of millions of law-abiding citizens. It would be a major blow to the population’s security.”
Responding to plans to introduce new welfare surveillance powers, Silkie Carlo, director for Big Brother Watch said:
“Everyone wants fraudulent uses of public money to be dealt with, whether it’s the billions in COVID contracts fraud or welfare fraud, and the government already has powers to review the bank statements of suspects. However, the government should not intrude on the privacy of anyone’s bank account in this country without very good reason, whether a person is receiving benefits or not. People who are disabled, sick, carers or looking for work should not be treated like criminals by default.
Such proposals do away with the longstanding democratic principle in Britain that state surveillance should follow suspicion rather than vice versa and it would be dangerous for everyone if the government reverses this presumption of innocence. Information processing in the welfare system is notoriously bad and the state rifling through millions of people’s bank statements is highly likely to result in serious mistakes. As the government is overseeing a cost of living crisis it should be investing public money to help people out of poverty, not to spy on them.” (source).
The Government’s Shameful Legacy
The speech also showed “the UK Government’s almost-complete disregard for human rights.” according to Amnesty, “it further cements this Government’s shameful legacy of dismantling human rights protections and attacking marginalised groups.”
They continued, “The government has once again failed to keep its promise to ban conversion practices that inflict harm on the LGBTQ+ community. Renting foreign prison spaces risks fundamental rights to fair trials and family life. We must uphold justice, not outsource it. The government is continuing its attack on freedom of speech and expression through the Economic Activity of Public Bodies Bill. Uniquely shielding Israel from criticism amid allegations of war crimes in Gaza is deeply concerning.”
Amnesty, still has a little bit of hope for next year’s General Election, which they say “is a chance for a radical change of approach. That’s why we’ve created a Human Rights Manifesto – a call to action for all parties and an invitation from Amnesty UK to help whoever forms the next government to deliver it.” (source).
The King Looked Pained
The public opinion of the Speech from the Throne was not positive. Caroline Lucas commented that “he looked so pained, the words must have stuck in his throat.” However, this may have been the King’s attempt to look impartial as is required of him and if anyone was to believe he was not in agreement with the government policies, it is perhaps just wishful thinking
The Law of the Constitution
The Law of the Constitution states: “the discrectionary power of the crown occasionally may be and according to constitutional precedents sometimes ought to to be , used to strip and existing House of Commons of its authority. But the reason why the House of can be deprived of power and of existence is that an occasion has arisen on which there is fair reason to suppose that the opinion of the House is not the opinion of the electors.” (source).
Even if this is so, it looks unlikely that we will see King Charles even so much as refuse Royal Assent to any one of the Bills that the electors disagree with. In fact, the last bill that was refused assent by the monarch was the Scottish Militia Bill during Queen Anne’s reign way back in 1708 Source. and there have been many Bills between then and now that the people have vehemently opposed.
Unfortunately like previous monarchs, the King will generally act upon, and in accordance with, the advice of his or her ministers Source. He waited all those years for this too. It may be nice to keep the British traditions alive, but isn’t it time to stop with this utter pantomime?
We can, however, just imagine what he was thinking while reading the government’s speech.
“One Feels a Complete Pillock Acting as Sunak’s Mouthpiece”?
full Video can be viewed here
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Categories: Opinion Pages