Blunkett condemns 'politics of resentment' in Queen's Speech


Former home secretary David Blunkett has condemned the Queen's Speech for fostering "the politics of blame and resentment".

He argued that the coalition's benefit reforms and moves to limit immigration would lead to bitterness towards welfare recipients and immigrants.

"When the fulcrum of politics shifts to looking to who can be blamed for our current problems in our communities rather than in our international financial and banking fraternity, that's when we see people turning on people," Mr Blunkett warned.

He was speaking in a debate on the Queen's Speech, focusing on the cost of living on 14 May 2013.

Conservative MP Richard Graham intervened to quote Peter Mandelson as saying the Labour Party sent out "search parties" to look for immigrants in 2004 and that it was "ridiculous to assume they have nothing to do with our economic woes".

But Mr Blunkett dismissed the characterisation of his tenure as home secretary as "risible" and called for "a sensible, rational dialogue, not fostering and engendering fear".

The debate opened with Energy Secretary Ed Davey telling MPs: "No party in this house has a monopoly on compassion."

He went on to say: "We are cushioning people from the impact of rising prices...we're cutting fuel duty, we've capped rail fares, we're helping the most vulnerable with their energy bills."

His Labour counterpart Caroline Flint described the Queen's Speech as "not just a missed opportunity but a denial of the power of government to change lives for the better".

"If this was our Queen's Speech we would be providing real help now for people and reforming the energy market for the long-term," Ms Flint said, introducing her amendment calling on the government to get people into work, build more affordable homes, tackle rising energy bills and deal with the cost of commuting.

Former environment secretary Caroline Spelman objected, saying of the High Speed 2 project: "The opposition claims the Speech has done nothing to tackle rail fares but here we are about to make a huge investment in rail infrastructure, creating jobs and growth."

Lib Dem Mike Crockart returned to the theme of energy prices. He said that, through the Energy Bill, "we will ensure customers are receiving the best deal on their energy tariffs...a huge improvement on the old regime where hundreds of complex tariffs were available, leading to confusion".

The Energy Bill, which was carried over from the previous Parliament, includes measures to reforming energy tariffs and provide consumers with a means of direct redress against suppliers.

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