The Spectator’s Alternative Conference

Starts 28 September 2020, 8:15am

In partnership with


With this autumn’s political conferences moving online, we’re bringing together politicians, academics, think tanks and members of the public to discuss a year that has fundamentally changed Britain, and where we go from here.

The Covid-19 crisis has turned the nation’s priorities on their head - but now more than ever, innovative public policy is needed to get the UK’s health and economy back on track. Education, healthcare, the labour market, trade, technology and the future relationship with the EU will all play a crucial role in shaping Britain after Covid, and now is the time for those policies to be debated.

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Liz Truss MP

Liz Truss MP is Secretary of State for International Trade.

Kwasi Kwarteng MP

Kwasi Kwarteng is the Conservative member of parliament for Spelthorne and the minister of state for Business, Energy and Clean Growth in the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy. Previously Kwasi has been parliamentary under-secretary of state in the Department for Exiting the European Union, and served as parliamentary private secretary (PPS) to the chancellor of the exchequer and the leader of the House of Lords. Prior to entering Parliament, Kwasi worked as a financial analyst and author. In addition to his political career, Kwasi is also a widely known historian. Kwasi also regularly appears in the broadcast media. In October 2018 Kwasi wrote and presented the BBC Radio 4 series Living with Empire. He also presented an edition of BBC 2’s Artsnight on Art and the British Empire in 2015. Kwasi has participated in a number of editions of Question Time and Any Questions, as well as contributing to political and news programmes.

Kemi Badenoch MP

Kemi Badenoch MP is the exchequer secretary to the Treasury and minister for equalities. After studying Computer Systems Engineering at the University of Sussex, Kemi Badenoch worked as a software engineer at Logica. Badenoch went on to work at RBS as a systems analyst before working as an associate director at Coutts and later as a director at The Spectator magazine. In 2012, Badenoch unsuccessfully contested a seat at the London Assembly. Three years later, Badenoch was selected as a London Assembly member. Badenoch was first elected as the Member of Parliament (MP) for Saffron Walden on 8 June 2017 following the retirement of former deputy speaker Alan Haselhurst, she became the first woman to represent that constituency. Kemi Badenoch was appointed Exchequer Secretary to the Treasury on 13 February 2020 and Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Minister for Equalities) in the Government Equalities Office on 14 February 2020. She was previously Parliamentary Under Secretary of State at the Department for Education from 27 July 2019 to 13 February 2020.

Andrew Griffith MP

Andrew Griffith is Andrew Griffith is the Conservative MP for Arundel and South Downs.

Steve Baker MP

Steve Baker is the Conservative MP for Wycombe, and has been an MP continuously since 2010. He won Politician of the Year 2019/20 in the Civility In Politics Awards and ConservativeHome Backbencher of the Year 2019. Steve became a Brexit minister after re-founding the European Research Group, but later resigned after Chequers. He is now back on the Treasury Committee and 1922 Executive, enjoying being a Parliamentarian first, campaigning for social progress through honest money, free trade and peace.

Jesse Norman MP

The Rt Hon Jesse Norman is the Conservative Member of Parliament for Hereford and South Herefordshire. He has been financial secretary to the Treasury since 2020. He was previously paymaster general, minister of state for Transport and chair of the Culture, Media and Sport Committee. He was educated at Merton College, Oxford, and has a Masters and PhD from University College London. He worked for and later ran an educational project giving away medical and other textbooks in Eastern Europe from 1988-1991. In 1991 he went to work at Barclays, mainly on eastern Europe and other emerging markets. He left Barclays in 1997 as a director in order to teach and do research in philosophy at UCL, and later at Birkbeck College. He was an honorary fellow at UCL in 2005-10, and a visiting fellow at All Soul's College, Oxford in 2016-17.

Bob Blackman MP

Bob Blackman is the Conservative MP for Harrow East and serves as joint secretary of the prestigious 1922 Committee within Parliament.  He was elected London Assembly Member for Brent and Harrow in 2004 and was a member of Brent Council for nearly 24 years. During that time, he led the Conservative Group for 20 years and the Council for 5 years.   Since being elected as MP for Harrow East in 2010 Bob has been able to bring his extensive experience in Local Government to bear on many of the issues facing the Government today through his work on the Communities and Local Government Select Committee. In 2016, Bob was drawn in the Private Member’s Bill ballot, which gives backbench MPs a chance to put forward a piece of primary legislation. Bob put forward the Homelessness Reduction Bill with the support of the homelessness charity sector, particularly Crisis, which was one of the final pieces of legislation given Royal Assent before the 2017 general election.  The Act was backed with £91million of investment from the Government, the Homelessness Reduction Act is the most well-funded Private Member’s Bill on record alongside being the longest and most substantial, at 13 clauses. It is the only Bill of its kind to be explicitly backed by the work of a Select Committee. The Act came into force in April 2018 and the “duty to refer” in October 2018. The Act is recognised as the biggest reform in legislation in assisting the homeless in more than 40 years.

Sir Simon Stevens

Simon Stevens is chief executive officer (CEO) of NHS England, which leads the NHS’ work nationally to improve health and ensure high quality care for all. As the NHS accounting officer he is also accountable to Parliament for over £100 billion of annual Health Service funding. Simon joined the NHS through its Graduate Training Scheme in 1988. As a frontline NHS manager he subsequently led acute hospitals, mental health and community services, primary care and health commissioning in the North East of England, London and the South Coast. He also served seven years as the Prime Minister’s health adviser at 10 Downing Street, and as policy adviser to successive Health Secretaries at the Department of Health. Simon also spent a decade working internationally at UnitedHealth Group, including as its Medicare chief executive officer and as president of its global health division, leading health services in the United States, Europe, Brazil, India, China, Africa, and the Middle East. Simon was born in Birmingham, and was educated at Balliol College, Oxford University; Strathclyde University, Glasgow; and Columbia University, New York where he was Harkness Fellow at the New York City Health Department. He is married with two school-age children, and volunteers as a director of the Commonwealth Fund, a leading international health charity. He has also been a trustee of the Kings Fund and the Nuffield Trust, visiting Professor at the London School of Economics and a local councillor for Brixton in South London. He is an honorary fellow of The Royal College of General Practitioners and holds an honorary doctorate from The University of Birmingham.

Jo Johnson

Jo Johnson is chairman of education software and services group Tes Global and a Senior Fellow at the Harvard Kennedy School and President’s Professorial Fellow at King’s College London. A member of Parliament between 2010-2019, Jo held prominent positions in Government under three Prime Ministers, including Head of the No10 Downing Street Policy Unit and Minister of State, attending Cabinet, for Universities, Science & Innovation. Before entering Parliament, he had worked at the FT for 13 years, in a variety of roles, including Associate Editor, Head of Lex, and South Asia Bureau Chief.

Julia Elizabeth King, Baroness Brown of Cambridge

Baroness Brown is the vice chair of the UK Committee on Climate Change and chair of the Adaptation Committee. She chairs The Carbon Trust and is a non-executive director of the Offshore Renewable Energy Catapult. Until its sale in 2017 she was a non-executive director of the Green Investment Bank. She led the King Review on decarbonising transport (2007) for the Chancellor of the Exchequer and is the Sector Champion for the Offshore Wind Sector Deal, part of the UK Government’s Industrial Strategy. Julia was made a Dame Commander of the British Empire for services to education and technology on 2015. She is a Fellow of the Royal Society of London and the Royal Academy of Engineering.

Adam Marshall

Adam Marshall is the director-general of the British Chambers of Commerce. His principal role is to represent and champion the interests of accredited Chambers of Commerce and their tens of thousands of business members – covering every size and sector of business, and employing over five million people in the UK. Previously, Adam served as the BCC’s executive director for Policy and External Affairs (July 2009 – March 2016), and as acting director General (March – October 2016). Prior to joining BCC, Adam helped start up the Centre for Cities, built commercial links between industry and universities, and worked in the broadcast media. He holds a BA from Yale University and MPhil and PhD degrees from the University of Cambridge. Adam is a national of the United Kingdom and the USA.

Roger Bootle

Roger Bootle is the founder and chairman of Capital Economics, one of the largest macro-economics consultancies in the world. He is also an Honorary Fellow of the Institute of Actuaries and a regular columnist for The Daily Telegraph. Roger was a specialist adviser to the House of Commons Treasury Committee for twenty years from 1997 to 2017. Under chancellor Kenneth Clarke, he was appointed to the panel of Independent Economic Advisers, the so-called “Wise Men”. He was formerly group chief economist of HSBC and a visiting professor at Manchester Business School. In 2012, he was named Economics Commentator of the Year and, together with a team from Capital Economics, won the Wolfson Prize. He has also written several books, including his widely acclaimed latest book, Making a Success of Brexit, and the prophetic The Death of Inflation, published in 1996. His latest book, The AI Economy – Work, Wealth and Welfare in the Robot Age, has just been published. He appears frequently on television and radio.

Kirsty Brimelow QC

Kirsty is an expert in International Human Rights Law. Kirsty was elected the first female chair of the Bar Human Rights Committee of England and Wales (BHRC) and completed a six-year term in December 2018, having served on the Executive for 15 years. All pro bono work was alongside her Doughty Street practice. She has advised and intervened in human rights cases around the world including in the Inter-American Court of Human Rights, the International Criminal Court, the ECOWAS Court in Nigeria, the Superior Tribunal of Santander Colombia, the Supreme Court of the United States and courts in the Maldives, South Sudan, Bangladesh, India, Pakistan and the Czech Republic and before the United Nations.

John Myers

John Myers is the co-founder of the YIMBY Alliance and London YIMBY housing campaigns to end the housing crisis with the support of local people, recently assessed as high impact by Founders Pledge. The YIMBY proposal to give parishes more power to allow high quality development were partly adopted by the Government in 2018. The new planning White Paper supports the YIMBY proposal of allowing residents on single streets to collectively permit additional development in forms acceptable to them, which the Royal Town Planning Institute described as ‘potentially fruitful’. He previously worked in investment management and as a lawyer.

James Diggle

James Diggle is head of Energy and Climate Change at the Confederation of British Industry. He joined the CBI in early 2019 from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders where he led the political engagement on Brexit, the switch to low-emission vehicles and the future of diesel. Prior to this he worked in a variety of roles at EDF Energy covering public affairs, media relations and corporate communications. Central to this was political and media engagement surrounding the Final Investment Decision and Government approval for the Hinkley Point C new nuclear power plant in 2017. James also supported efforts to secure life extensions for existing UK nuclear power stations, access to Contracts for Difference auctions for remote island wind projects, and the future of carbon pricing. James has also worked with a range of businesses in consultancy, including successful efforts to secure a package of mitigation measures for energy-intensive industries at risk from increased electricity costs following the introduction of the Carbon Price Floor in 2013.

Kate Henderson

Kate Henderson is chief executive of the National Housing Federation, the voice of housing associations in England. They believe that everyone should have the home they need at a price they can afford. They represent the work of housing associations and campaign for better housing. Their members provide 2.7 million homes for nearly six million people and each year they invest in a diverse range of neighbourhood projects that help create strong, vibrant communities. Prior to joining the Federation in October 2018 Kate was chief executive of the Town and Country Planning Association (TCPA). During her decade at the TCPA Kate raised the Association’s profile through a range of campaigns and policy initiatives, most notably around Garden Cities, local authority innovation, affordable housing, health, poverty and climate change. Kate has been involved in a number of government panels and independent commissions including the Government’s Rough Sleeping Advisory Panel, the independent Affordable Housing Commission, the Labour Party Planning Commission and the independent Lyons Housing Review. She is a visiting professor at the Bartlett School of Planning at University College London, vice president of the International Federation of Housing & Planning, and has co-authored various books including ‘The Art of Building a Garden City’ published by RIBA Publishing and winner of the National Urban Design Book Award 2018.

Rain Newton-Smith

Rain Newton-Smith is the chief economist at the Confederation of British Industry. She and her team provide business leaders with advice on the UK economic outlook and global risks. Previously, Rain was head of Emerging Markets at Oxford Economics where she managed a large team of economists and was the lead expert on China. Prior to that, Rain worked on the international forecast for the Monetary Policy Committee at the Bank of England and also led a team with responsibility for developing a risk assessment framework for the UK financial system. While at the Bank, she also went on secondment to the International Monetary Fund in Washington D.C. where she was adviser to the UK executive director. Rain was honoured by the World Economic Forum in 2012 as a Young Global Leader.

Dr Jonathan Marshall

Dr Jonathan Marshall is head of Analysis at the Energy and Climate Intelligence Unit (ECIU), a non-profit organisation that supports informed debate on energy and climate change issues in the UK. He also has experience in financial services and in academia. Jonathan holds a PhD in Chemistry from Imperial College London, during which he developed novel materials for low cost solar cells.

Mark Littlewood

Mark Littlewood is the director general of the Institute of Economic Affairs. He is one of the most well-known free market voices in the United Kingdom and is a much sought-after speaker at a range of events including university debates, industry conferences and public policy events. In 2019, was ranked 41st on Iain Dale’s ‘Top 100 Conservative Influencers List.’ He frequently comments on political and economic issues on television and radio and writes a regular column for The Times. He also sits on the board of Big Brother Watch – an organisation which argues for protection of privacy and civil liberties in the UK.

Robert Colvile

Robert Colvile is the director of the Centre for Policy Studies.

Liam Halligan

Liam Halligan is an economist, author and broadcaster – who also has extensive business experience. He is best known for his long-standing weekly ‘Economics Agenda’ column in The Sunday Telegraph – which enjoys a large international following and has been recognized with a highly-coveted British Press Award. Along with his Telegraph role, Liam also writes regularly for The Spectator and The Sun. Liam has previously worked for The Economist, as Political Correspondent for The Financial Times and also Channel Four News – where, as Economics Correspondent, he won the Wincott Business Broadcasting award a record four times. He continues to research, write and present hard-hitting Dispatches documentaries for Channel 4 television, while regularly appearing on flagship BBC programmes including Question Time, Any Questions and Today.

Keith Anderson

Keith Anderson is chief executive officer for ScottishPower and he also sits on the ScottishPower Board, where he was appointed in February 2012. Keith has full responsibility for the Company’s activities in the UK including the £5.3bn investment plan to 2022 designed to strengthen the position of the Company as the Utility of the Future. Prior to joining ScottishPower, Keith had worked with some major financial institutions including The Royal Bank of Scotland and Standard Life, as well as working as a management consultant with Ernst & Young. Keith is vice chair of CBI Scotland, became a member of the UK Government’s Investment Trade Advisory Group in August 2020 and is also a COP26 Business Leader.

James Binns

James Binns is the global head of Trade and Working Capital for Barclays Bank, which serves Corporate, NBFI and FI clients globally with teams located in UK, Europe, Americas, Asia and the Middle East. Prior to joining Barclays, James spent 4.5 years at Deutsche Bank where he headed Working Capital Advisory and Trade Finance for EMEA and latterly Global Cross Product Solutions. This followed 20 years at HSBC where James was based across Asia Pacific, the Middle East, USA and UK in a number of senior Corporate Banking and Trade Finance roles.

Tasnim Ghiawadwala

Tasnim Ghiawadwala is head of UK Corporate Banking at Barclays. Since joining the bank, she has led the introduction of a new strategy and business model for Barclays’ UK Corporate Banking franchise, with an emphasis on growth, building capabilities and driving enhanced client experience. Before Barclays, Tasnim was at Citi, where she was Head of Commercial Bank Europe, Middle East and Africa, leading Citi’s expansion into new markets and driving innovation and digitisation. During her career at Citi, she also held roles in Investment Banking, Corporate and Commercial Banking, and Senior Regional Management. Prior to Citi, Tasnim worked at JP Morgan and Commercial Union. She is a Chartered Management Accountant.

Cindy Yu

Cindy Yu is broadcast editor of The Spectator.

Fraser Nelson

Fraser Nelson is the editor of The Spectator. He joined the magazine in 2006 as political editor and became editor three years afterwards. He is a columnist for the Daily Telegraph, listed as one of Debrett’s 20 most influential journalists of 2016. He has been named political journalist of the year in the British Press Awards and Editors' Editor of the year (the top award in the UK magazine industry). He sits on the advisory board of the Centre for Social Justice, the Social Mobility Foundation and the Centre for Policy Studies.

Kate Andrews

Kate Andrews is The Spectator’s Economics Correspondent. She previously worked as Associate Director at the UK’s leading free market think tank, the Institute of Economic Affairs. She features regularly on flagship political programmes, including BBC’s Question Time, and has a regular slot reviewing the papers on BBC News and Sky News. She has written for the Times, the Daily Telegraph, the Sunday Express and City AM, among other outlets.

James Forsyth

James Forsyth is political editor of The Spectator.

Katy Balls

Katy Balls is the Spectator‘s political correspondent. She is a regular presenter of the magazine’s daily politics podcast and a columnist for the i newspaper. She was shortlisted for ‘political commentator of the year’ at the 2017 Press Awards. Balls began her career as a diarist on the Telegraph‘s Mandrake column before moving to the political beat. She is not related to Ed Balls. She has just released a new podcast ‘Women with Balls’ – with interviews of women leading the way in their field.


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