Swindon Labour leader reflects on the end of an era

By Swindon Link - 21 September 2022

Politics

A column from Swindon Labour leader Jim Robbins.

  • Swindon Labour leader Jim Robbins

    Swindon Labour leader Jim Robbins

Swindon Labour Party were deeply saddened to hear the news of the Queen's death.

We pay tribute to her many years of outstanding public service and leadership of the country and Commonwealth.

She has been a constant in many people's lives and few Swindonians will remember the time before she was crowned. We send our condolences to the family.

The political world has been overshadowed by the death of the Queen.

I was in a work meeting when the news first broke that the Queen was under medical supervision and came out of the meeting to several messages both from the council and the local media.

The plans for the death of the Queen, codenamed Operation London Bridge, swung into action over the rest of the day, with the council flag lowered after the official announcement of the Queen’s death, and books of condolence were opened across the borough.

Plans for the local Proclamation of the new King were made, and the Labour Group of councillors were pleased to attend the ceremony.

The Mayor, Cllr Abdul Amin, did a fine job of making a speech to mark the occasion and provided a dignified reading of the official Proclamation.

We were also lucky to have the hugely experienced Cllr Kevin Small advising us all and ensuring that we all were in the right places and responding at the right times.

Council meetings have been stopped during the national mourning period and the Government is in recess, but other issues of national importance do remain.

The Government need to find time to enact the freeze in energy prices before they are due to have another recess for the Party Conference season at the end of the month, and locally in Swindon, the council needs to determine how it will be ensuring that we help people through the cost-of-living crisis and rising inflation.

People will be coming to terms with the change of Monarch, as well as a change of Prime Minister last week, and reflecting on what this means in a modern country.

The new King has a challenging job to do to fill the shoes of his mother, who managed to unite the country with her steadfast commitment to doing her duty over so many years.

Liz Truss will have thought about her first week as Prime Minister a number of times throughout the Conservative leadership contest, but she probably won’t have envisaged the week turning out that way that it did.

Events do have a way of changing the best laid plans, as Harold Macmillan famously observed, and it remains to be seen how the tumultuous events since she took office impact her time as Prime Minister.

I hope that Swindon can observe all of the formalities and the ceremonial events of this time well and ensure that the Queen has a fitting send-off, and we pay tribute to her years of impeccable public service before ensuring that we get on with the big political issues of the day and ensure that we are supporting Swindon residents to get through the difficult winter ahead.

As we set to that task, our thoughts will obviously be with the King and his family as they adjust to the loss of Queen and the new roles they face.

We wish them well in their task and repeat what we have already shouted on Proclamation Day: "God Save the King."

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