Nobody can deny that politics of late has been as interesting as it has been unpredictable. The Coalition Government has the potential to change the face of British politics for years to come, but the promise of that change has raised many questions and delivered some uncertainty. And it's in light of these uncertainties that Total Politics has teamed up with Policy Review TV to host the Queen's Speech Forum, a groundbreaking conference taking place tomorrow at the Queen Elizabeth II Conference Centre.
At the Forum we're bringing together a top-level panel of speakers to analyse and interpret the implications of the Queen's Speech for key decision makers in the private and public sector. Speakers include:
• Rt Hon Eric Pickles MP, Secretary of State, Department for Communities and Local Government
• Rt Hon Francis Maude MP, Minister for the Cabinet Office
• Lord David Freud, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Minister for Welfare Reform)
• Danny Finkelstein, The Times
• Neil O'Brien, Director, Policy Exchange
• Dr Adam Marshall, Director of Policy, British Chamber of Commerce
What's groundbreaking about this conference I hear you ask? Simples. We don't believe the value of a conference should be confined to the time and space it physically occupies. In other words, the Queen's Speech Forum will use new media on an unprecedented scale to expand the audience reach and ensure that as many people who would benefit from the content as possible will get to benefit from it.
For too long, policy-oriented conferences have been London-centric. With that in mind, Total Politics and Policy Review TV are going to burst the Westminster bubble and deliver premium conferences that reflect the needs of key decision makers across the whole United Kingdom.
What does that mean in practice? Well, while you've been able purchase tickets to attend the Forum in person (and take advantage of the networking opportunities), you'll also be able to watch and interact with the conference live online from the comfort of your own office, or from one of the satellite centres operating in major cities across the UK. And by interaction, I mean you'll be able to put your questions to the speakers live, in real-time, just as if you were sitting in the QE II.
What's more, each discussion segment will be turned into a special online TV show which will be viewable after the conference finishes. As well as the on-stage speeches, these TV shows will have exclusive off-stage content, such as interviews with speakers and feedback from delegates.
And we've also been conscious of the pressures on the public purse. A lot of criticism has been thrown at the public sector in the past for spending incredible sums of money to attend conferences. But the truth is, attendance at conferences on many occasions equips public servants with the knowledge and skills to do their jobs better. But in the digital age, it shouldn't always be necessary for public servants to attend conferences in person. And the Queen's Speech Forum is a reflection of this reality. If a public servant in local government feels they would benefit from the Forum's local government segment, but can't justify travelling hundreds of miles to attend, they can simply pay a very modest fee to view and engage with the segment online. The public servant gets the benefit of the conference, whilst limiting the cost to the taxpayer.
It's rare that I get excited about conferences, but with the Queen's Speech Forum I genuinely am. Thanks to the efforts of Shane Greer at Total Politics and Neil Stewart at Policy Review TV, I firmly believe we're about to revolutionise policy-oriented conferences in the UK.
Elinor Goodman and I will be co-chairing the day's sessions.
To find out more about the Queen's Speech Forum click HERE
UPDATE: We've decided to stream the whole thing free of charge, just to tempt you in future.
If you want to watch any part of the conference you can access the live feed from 10am HERE.