The REC reports back from the Lib Dem conference

The REC will be on the ground at all the major party conferences, but first up is the Liberal Democrats in Brighton.

It’s that time of year again, as party conference season officially gets underway. Neal Suchak, policy adviser at the Recruitment & Employment Confederation, reports from the Liberal Democrats Party Conference for Recruiter.co.uk.

Ones to watch
The opening of conference was dominated by speculation over the future of the party, as leader Sir Vince Cable announced his intention to stand down once his party reforms are in place and Brexit is “resolved or stopped”. The early media focus was on who will replace him, with up-and-coming MP Layla Moran, deputy leader Jo Swinson and even anti-Brexit campaigner Gina Miller all in the running.

On Sunday night, all eyes were on deputy Jo Swinson – perhaps the person most likely to replace Sir Vince. Swinson, a former business minister and minister for women and equalities in the coalition government, is particularly keen to promote flexible working. She founded her own consulting business advising organisations on workplace diversity; and will definitely be one to watch for the future.

Eyes on Sir Vince
After a broad range of fringe events, covering everything from women in science to the UK in a changing Europe, the policy team sat down to hear from the leader himself. No surprises for guessing that Brexit was at the heart of his speech. “Brexit is not inevitable – it can and it must be stopped,” he told the party members; but how realistic this is, is up for debate.

Of particular note, was a commitment to Jo Swinson’s Technology and Artificial Intelligence Commission to explore how we can make the most of the possibilities that this revolution brings and ensure that all of us stand to benefit from them. Although light on detailed policy, Sir Vince told members that education professionals must be put back in charge in our schools, and proposed an “individual learning account” for training and re-training throughout life, highlighting that the Apprenticeship Levy actively discourages training – perhaps he has been reading our Future of jobs commission report!

So what?
The Lib Dems may not be the biggest party, and may have lost their influence of 2010. But as the only Party with a hard-line, anti-Brexit stance, it is perhaps surprising their policies are not resonating more among those who are pessimistic about Brexit.

Party conferences give us the opportunity to engage with key stakeholders and business organisations, as well as with MPs. We’ll be attending both Labour and Tory Party Conferences in the coming weeks, do get in touch if you are in attendance policy@rec.uk.com

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