Conference chaos, but still striving for the self-employed
- 04 Oct 2019
- Simon McVicker
How do you summarise politics in a month like this? Conference season is always a hectic time in the political calendar, but this year it felt like events had a momentum of their own.
During the Liberal Democrat conference in Bournemouth, it at least seemed as if the party itself had control of those events. The Liberal Democrats sent shockwaves across the political landscape by adopting the extreme policy that, if elected, they would revoke Article 50 and effectively scrap Brexit without another referendum.
All the while, rumbling beneath was the Supreme Court case over whether Boris Johnson’s prorogation of Parliament on 9 September was legal or not. When this bubble burst and it was announced during the Labour Party conference that the prorogation was not legal, events really did race out of control.
Jeremy Corbyn’s closing speech was brought forward a day, MPs were hastily bundled onto trains back to Parliament, and long-planned fringe events – including our own – were thrown into jeopardy. Such is the pull of self-employment, however, we still managed to pack the room to the rafters.
Then, of course, the Conservative Party conference, where Boris Johnson escalated his stand-off not only with the European Union, but also with his own parliament. And yet still managed to rally the troops with a resounding condemnation of what he called “the fratricidal anti-Semitic Marxists” of the Labour Party, as well as the pledge to recruit more police, doctors, nurses and staff across all areas of the public sector. Beneath the rhetoric and bravado at both conferences, however, there was still an overriding sense of anxiety and confusion about the future.
Besides the speeches and national announcements at the Conservative Party conference, there were also our events at the Conservative Party conference. We ran two exceptional panel events, on the future of self-employment and the need for a fair deal for self-employed parents. On the panels, I was joined by hard-hitting and insightful speakers from Financial Secretary to the Treasury Jesse Norman and Under-Secretary of State for Employment Mims Davies, to Baroness Neville-Rolfe.
As Brexit and constitutional crisis continue to dominate the headlines, our time at the Liberal Democrat, Labour and Conservative conferences showed that there are still hard-working, dedicated MPs across all parties who are interested in engaging with us and supporting the self-employed. You can read their interesting views and insights in our event write-ups.
Across our events and parliamentary work, we have continued to lobby hard on IR35, the Loan Charge, parental leave and the other issues that matter most to our members, so that when the Brexit smoke starts to clear, we can make sure there’s a brighter future for freelancers.
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Director of Policy