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Blue Collar Conversations

Author: Blue Collar Conservatism

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Welcome to Blue Collar Conversations! We’ve moved from the pub to the podcast. And like our country wide pub events, these podcasts act as a space to discuss ideas that champion working people. In our podcast series, we will talk to staff and business owners, bringing their voice to the fore, discussing their concerns, aligning the needs of staff to the vision of the business owner, asking: will we recover from this pandemic and what will the recovery look likeWhat will be the impact on staff and workers and what does the future world of work look like? Get involved:
16 Episodes
"Staycation" is the word on everyone's lips this summer after the Prime Minister urged the nation to holiday at home in an effort to boost the UK tourism industry during lockdown.  And those who had been determined to get away are now staying at home having had their flights cancelled - so UK here we come!  So let's discover our hidden treasures, our coastlines and our countrysides and let loose the Great British adventurer in us all!But where are people staying? And how are they getting around?  What will the impact on the "staycation" boom be on British businesses?  Will it be enough for them to survive?  To tackle these questions and more, we're joined by three industry experts to learn more:(01:13) Ben Holland, owner of Spinney Motor Homes(11:45) Alicia Cox, director of Talhenbont Hall(20:29) William Robinson, MD of Robinson's Brewery
Does the Government actually understand our high streets and their needs?  Will state hand-outs be enough for businesses to survive?  They are just some of the many concerns business owners have raised following the Government's recent announcement that beauty salons, casinos and theatres - among many other types of services - must stay shut whilst pubs, restaurants, swimming pools and bingo halls open.  Are these decisions informed by science?  Or is there something altogether more discriminatory driving the decision-making in Government? Joining Esther McVey to discuss these issues and more are four business owners who are still unable to work because of lockdown regulations:(00:57) Roberta Dyer, owner of Roberta Beauty Redefined(08:15) Cathryn Lyon, Head of Hair & Beauty at Manchester College(12:07) Simon Thomas, Chief Executive of The Hippodrome in London(20:39) Paul Roseby, Chief Executive and Artistic Director of the National Youth Theatre 
Boris Johnson channelled his inner Franklin Roosevelt this week to deliver his "New Deal" speech.  Aimed at moving the national debate away from lockdown and onto the future, the Prime Minster promised to "build, build, build".With the Chancellor set to map out the Government's plan to nurse the economy back to health on Wednesday, Esther McVey is joined by three guests to discuss the detail in the Prime Minister's speech, the significance of having delivered it in Dudley and what the Chancellor needs to include in his plan to rebuild the economy after COVID:(01:58) Matthew Goodwin, Professor of politics at the University of Kent(09:38) John Redwood MP, former Secretary of State and policy adviser to Margaret Thatcher(23:29) Lord Norman Lamont, former Chancellor of the Exchequer
As the debate rumbles on about how and when to get children back into school, we've reached out to two blue collar champions to explain what needs to be done:(2:11) Stuart Herdson is the former President of the Association of Teachers and Lecturers (at home and abroad), which is one of the country's top teaching unions.(12:26) Adrian Kneeshaw is the CEO of Carlton Bolling College and has a history of turning round failing schools into outstanding centres of education.How can it be right that school children - who are the least affected by COVID-19 - end up the most impacted by it in the long term?
How did we go from lockdown to breakdown?The appalling death of George Floyd in police custody triggered outrage in America; outrage that travelled over 4,000 miles from Minnesota to the streets of London.At first, there was confusion about how to address the situation here in the UK.  The suddenness with which anger had travelled across the pond, combined with the sensitivities around issues dealing with racism, meant things got quickly out of control.When the peaceful protests turned to rioting, police seemed to be caught off-guard.  And this happened during the COVID-19 lockdown - a lockdown, up until that moment, the public had largely abided by.So what happened? Were the police unprepared for riots on the back of lockdown? Should permission for the protests been refused from the outset?  Were the protests distorted by media coverage?  How should the police have handled things?To help us tackle these questions and more, we speak to:1) Graham Wettone, retired police officer and author of 'How to be a Police Officer' (01:47 - 14:52)2) Maurisa Coleman, Ambassador for Notting Hill Carnival and political assistant (15:08 - 24:30)3) Kash Singh, former Police Inspector and now CEO of One Britain One Nation (24:45 - 29:52)4) John Apter, National Chair of the Police Federation of England and Wales (30:24 - 37:20)
After another weekend of protests & demonstrations, the only form of mass gathering that has happened in over two months, Blue Collar Conversations asks...What does the Summer of 2020 have in store for us and will mass gatherings this summer only be ones of protest? COVID-19 has certainly changed how we come together, with concerts, music festivals, pride events, theatre shows all disappearing for the foreseeable future - and if these live events go - then so do the livelihood of millions of our country’s musicians. How can we reverse that? And bring people back together to celebrate? To help us answer how Covid has changed the music industry we speak to 5 industry experts:1) Chris Wright, founder of Chrysalis Records (01:30)2) Ed Barker, former saxophone soloist for George Michael (09:04)3) Natalia Bonner, violinist, providing the music for film soundtracks & tours performing Chamber music (13:35)4) Mark Radcliffe, Broadcaster, writer & producer (19:33)5) Peter Nicholson, founder of Sound Level Events in Southampton (24:30)
During Coronavirus we have consumed more news than ever before as we try to get to grips with Covid-19; how it is affecting us, our community and the world over. So who is in charge of our news and where facts are gathered and how accurate and impartial it is, is vital. During Covid-19, newspapers , TV, radio and news websites are having to undergoing significant changes, facing threats from many angles, from a more discerning public questioning news content to revenue reducing as fewer people buy papers during lockdown to advertising drying up as businesses cut costs. Taken together these are are radically altering the media industry as we know it. So who will survive and how will the media be changed in a post Covid world ? We speak to :(0220 - 0814) Gary Jones, Editor in Chief of Express Newspapers, part of the Reach Group the biggest publishers of local and national newspapers.(0842 - 1611) Steve Anderson, an independent producer/director of television programmes, who’s been Executive producer of BBC Question Time, head of news and current affairs at ITV, editor of the 6 o’clock news, Watchdog and Panorama, and Editor of Newsnight. (1639 - 2409) Tom Harwood, Senior Reporter at the Guido Fawkes website(2451 - 3103) Christian May: Editor in Chief of City A.M.
When the doors to the hairdressers eventually open, will you be first in the queue - wearing a mask and getting your hair done - or will you continue doing your hair colour at home, saving pennies, still cautious of contact ? Will the beauty industry often seen as recession proof be one of the sectors helping Britain bounce back after lockdown? Will it be the sector that raises the nation’s spirit and spending?Worth £500billion globally and employing millions of people, how will the beauty industry fair in the age of online and social distancing? We speak to Ann-Marie Baker, leading hairdresser at TONI&GUY, economist and author Dr. Lind Yueh, Dominic McGregor, co-founder of Social Chain, and fashion, beauty and lifestyle blogger Susie Cormack Bruce.
Without doubt COVID-19 has exposed significant weaknesses in the University system. But it is the way in which Universities have treated their students during this period that has made many question whether University is really for them. For the last two month students have been cut adrift, with inadequate alternative provisions for lectures, tutorials, library facilities and reading materials and online support. Other sectors and industries adapted quickly using online conferencing from Zoom to Microsoft Team, but our academic institutions were slow to follow. Whilst some have supported their students, the vast majority have not; leaving students up and down the country feeling let down and out of pocket, with no offer of refunds forthcoming.We speak to Emily Bethell and Bronwen Kershaw, two second year students at two different universities as they both relay their alarming experiences. A-Level student Jonathan Dawes, 17, and Member of the Welsh Youth Parliament reveals his survey result showing students have lost faith in University and won’t be applying this year.Finally, Toby Young, General Secretary of the Free Speech Union, discussing the future of Universities and the path they need to take to survive - as he puts it ‘they are facing an existential threat’. 
For too long many of us have seen our military merely as a fighting force.  We think of troops on the ground, often abroad, with guns, and of war.  Until recently, most people hadn't seen our military as a defending force and one that preserves lives.But that is exactly what the military is doing during this pandemic: working with the NHS, saving lives and defending our country. Going forward, will the military be used to do more at home? And will the military medical teams work more closely with the NHS and share its knowledge on Biological and Chemical warfare? And will the military’s incredible logistic expertise be used as a national resource, particularly as we will need to get our economy back on track and the country back on its feet after lockdown?To help us explore these questions, we speak to: Nick Knowles TV Presenter and the star of DIY SOS, who explains why he’s such a fan of our Armed Forces and why we should be doing more to utilise their skills.  He also recalls the moment his mum and dad met in the RAF and reveals why he felt the military wasn’t for him.Paul Doyle, former member of the First Battalion of the Grenadier Guards, explains how the army could be doing more to help the NHS and why the expertise the medial military teams have isn’t being used or called upon enough. He sees the military as an important resource to help build our country after lockdown.Colonel Bob Stewart, a former British Army officer and United Nations commander in Bosnia, and now a Member of Parliament, explains how, over the years, as the size as the military has shrunk, it has become more remote and less connected to the regions across the country. He hopes that when the public see how the military has helped during this pandemic, from delivering 7 Nightingale Hospital to delivering PPE and performing testing right across the country, more might consider it as a career again. He also reveals why our Armed Forces may be needed more at home to provide protection & support for the country in future.Paul Matson, founder of Hull for Heroes, tells his own very personal story about falling on hard times when he left the army and recalls the moment his aunt found him in a doorway, weighing only six and a half stone, and helped him get back on his feet, which helped him turn his life around. He is now helping other veterans do just that with his organisation. We as a society are failing many of our ex-military. We need to learn how to help them transition back into civilian life much better and incorporate their skills into the national effort.Make sure to click that subscribe button to never miss an episode!
This week on Blue Collar Conversations we challenge the idea that HS2, the £100bn high speed railway project, is still needed in this era of Covid-19. We consider whether it’s now time to turn our focus away from the train line and instead to online. Isn’t it time to stop HS2 and put that money into high speed broadband & the country’s IT infrastructure? To help us tackle this question, we speak to four industry experts in online retail, marketing and property. Neil Hollands Founder of Concert Networks explains how Covid 19 has forced us all to go online & in record time. Changes industries thought would have taken years have taken weeks, and Neil argues these new online habits are here to stay. He ask talks about the need for better IT infrastructure, revealing that whilst the ‘core system’ has ‘coped’, it desperately needs updating and strengthening for the country to carry on. Listen to why he thinks the UK needs to halt its fascination with HS2 and invest in its digital infrastructure. Ruth Gresty MD of Boxed Red Marketing talks about the speed of change and how different people & businesses have coped. She worries about the digital divide in this country (and it getting bigger), digital poverty and postcode lotteries. New infrastructure is essential for this country if we don’t want to create a new north-south and city-suburb divide.Natasha Courtenay-Smith CEO of Bolt Digital is a best-selling published author. She explains how e-commerce businesses will be the big winners out of Covid-19 and will have a duty to support us all. She explains where new opportunities exist online with us all spending an extra 25% online and how to get our products noticed. Faisal Butt  is a social entrepreneur and founder of Pi Labs investing in Prop Tech (Property Technology) businesses. Prop Tech is digitising the whole of the property sector. Up until Covid 19 it was a nascent industry, but as we all go online and open to the possibilities on offer, Prop Tech is set to grow rapidly - the U.K. will become a global leader in this space. Faisal talks of the opportunities ahead and also of the need for this country to have next generation IT infrastructure.
Will China Towns close, restaurants move online & eating habits change?Our fifth episode of Blue Collar Conversations offers plenty of food for thought.  After hitting the national headlines last week, this episode promises to be just as newsworthy as Esther chats with three people with very different perspectives on the UK food industry and whether COVID-19 has changed most people’s eating habits.Ching-He Huang (01:17) is a Chinese food writer, TV chef and author of 6 best-selling Chinese cookery books— a real foodie entrepreneur!  From a farming family in Taiwan that regularly used wet markets, Ching talks about how COVID-19 could spell the end of China Towns right across the UK.David Green (17:37) is creator of, a website helping save our country’s restaurants. He shares some of the extraordinary patterns he’s seen developing online during this period of disruption and reveals which businesses have done the best.Professor Sarah Bridle (27:54) is an astrophysicist and data science specialist who is mapping data about food consumption, the environment and changing eating habits.  She explains more about zero carbon food and the opportunities for people to change their thinking in lockdown.Make sure to subscribe to never miss a new episode!More about Ching: https://www.chinghehuang.comDavid’s website: about Sarah:
Today Esther talks to three very different people who have, for one reason or another, fallen through the cracks: cracks of the support system, cracks of the childcare system and cracks of the business systemDenise Valente, owner of The Market Co., a market space for artisan makers and bakers to come together and sell their products. Hosting over 500 traders, Denise’s marketplace was on the up. But everything changed on 19 March.A’Dell Harper has owned a children’s nursery for 30 years. Even though her business has been allowed to remain open during lockdown, she reveals how it is now in a far worse place.  She also worries about the length of the lockdown and the impact it is having on children’s development and people’s mental wellbeing.With supply chains wrecked, and confidence at an all-time low, businesses that rely on one another are feeling the strain. One such business is Hy-Pro, owned by Atul Shah.  Hy-Pro creates licensed products for some of the most recognisable brands in the world.  Recently they won the contract to supply branded products for the Olympics 2020 and Euro 2020.  But both events have now been cancelled, threatening the existence of Atul’s business legacy.We listen as they live each moment, from despair to survival to fightback, and what they discover along the way.  We hear how their hope, resourcefulness and optimism is getting them through the disruption COVID-19 has brought upon all of us.  They will be fine - won’t they?Check out The Market Co. here:
Will a visit to the pub or a wonder down the  high Street ever be the same again after Covid 19?In today’s podcast, Esther McVey MP asks whether will we ever socialise and shop the same after Covid-19. Coronavirus has created a new community spirit, but will socialising in groups be a thing of the past? How do we save our pubs and the small shops on the high street? Nicola Newton has worked in the hospitality industry for 30 years. Then 3 years ago she fulfilled a dream, owning a pub and hotel with her family, the Rose & Crown in Knutsford. Looking forward to their best trading year after 3 years of building up her business Covid-19 literally pulled the rug from under their feet. Now she worries for the very survival of pubs, thinking many in the industry  could be staring down the barrel of a gun. And Fran Bishop, finalist in the 2016 Apprentice, who now runs a chain of children’s shops called Pud thinks it’s only by creating your own identity and community that you will stay in business. She’s pushing ahead with sales online but thinks without radical change to business rates the high street won’t survive. Check out the Rose & Crown website here: out The Pud Store website here:
This is our second Blue Collar Conversation online. We’ve moved from the pub to the podcast! Like our country wide pub events, these podcasts act as a space to discuss ideas that champion working people. In this era of social distancing are we all coming closer together? Is Covid 19 making us focus on our local community and are we seeing things with fresh eyes, things we’ve turned away from for too long? In this episode, Esther McVey MP speaks to a care home owner and staff member about the pay, the support and the standing care workers have in our society. Selina is one of the 1.4 million care workers in the UK and hasn’t seen her family for over a month so concerned she might bring Coronavirus into the nursing home in which she works.  Short of PPE, not being tested and not getting any priority when she goes shopping, she carries on dedicated to the elderly she looks after and has just today put her name down to self isolate for 2 weeks with them should there be an outbreak of Covid 19 in her care home.David, owner of a care home, looks after 100 elderly and has 2 Covid 19 cases in his home. Taking one day at a time he feels he and his staff are seen as second class citizens, reduced to buying masks on line, and leading the march to protect his elderly patients he feels abandoned. Finally Ryan from Bradford City Football Club talks about how Coronavirus is affecting the different levels of the football pyramid, how the challenges facing a club in League Two, like Bradford City, are a million miles away from their Premier League counterparts. He also explains why it is so important that the current season is completed however long it takes.
This is our first Blue Collar Conversation online. We’ve moved from the pub to the podcast! Like our country wide pub events, these podcasts act as a space to discuss ideas that champion working people. In January there were a record high 33 million people in work, 5 million of which were self employed. Those figures changed over night as the country’s workforce was put on freeze, many furloughed, many made redundant, all of us unsure what the future holds. Before Covid 19, the weekly figure claiming Universal Credit benefit was around 50,000 people, but for the last 2 weeks that figure has risen to almost 1 million. Covid 19 has turned the world upside down and in record quick time. Only a few weeks ago no one had even heard of the word Coronavirus and yet now it dominates every moment of our life. Job loss, financial uncertainty, business closures, health, pastime, movement restrictions.  Will the world ever look the same again? In this episode, Esther McVey MP speaks to business man David Salmon, 69yrs from Scunthorpe, founder of Amelia Knight an international cosmetic company which exports to 24 countries and has factories in England and China. He shares his experience of what’s happened in China and what’s happening here, how he started up in business and why the first thing he did when Coronavirus hit was protect his staff.We also speak to Jamie McIvor, 21yrs, a young aspiring entrepreneur, who as well as having 2 flower shops works part time as Cabin Crew for a big airline. His unusual position of being furloughed himself by a large company and having to do the same to the staff in his shops. Maria Caulfield joins us, too! MP and cancer nurse, who’s gone straight back to the front line working on a Covid 19 ward. Discussing the exhaustion of frontline staff in hospitals and the fear Coronavirus brings with it. She talks about the wonderful collaboration with Formula 1, Mercedes and University College Hospital London, as business and the NHS develop ventilators in record time.Amongst the fear and the uncertainty, the illness and the anxiety Esther asks: has the business landscape changed forever? Is the age of the entrepreneur over? How will we recover from Covid 19?
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