Who I'm voting for tomorrow and why

‘The reluctant Tory’

I’m not someone who always votes the same way. So I usually take some time to think about who deserves my support at a general election. I try to consider both the wider issues such as security and general economics as well as more important ones --- the price of alcohol, for example.

And, of course, being a contractor, I take careful note of who is best at supporting my chosen way of working.

This last point, this time around, is dead simple. As far as I can tell, it’s none of the political parties. Between them, there’s no mention of measures to support freelance and contract working, but there are many threats, both open and concealed. These will impact the contractor community and generally make life for the likes of me difficult. So this time around, I really can ignore this aspect of who has the most contractor-friendly offering. For freelance contracting as a movement, the usual long-running battle for proper recognition must go on.

The Conservative voter

Years contracting: 21
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Structure: PSC
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Skills/Specialism: Consultancy, IT Architecture
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Sectors/ Industries: Central govt, FTSE 100 companies
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Location: South West
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Voting for: The Conservative Party

As to working out the rest, it’s actually quite simple. We have one party offering an honest appraisal of what’s wrong and needs to be addressed. They are pitted against a party of economic illiterates, telling us why the other party’s wrong. We also have various minor party leaders trying to impress and mostly failing (including one who’s not even standing).

Plus, we have a sitting prime minister not really connecting with the public at large, squaring off (not that she chose to on TV) against a Marxist. He comes across as generally nice and very honest, but he’s offering solutions to anything and everything with no idea how to pay for them. It’s a shame his trade union-driven ideas won’t actually work in the real world.

With all the parties, we have seen very little of the people behind the leaders, and those we have seen have been; to put it politely, less than impressive (or downright inept in one case). So there’s no help there. It means I’ll go with the party that at least tries to be honest about what they plan to do. Tomorrow, on June 8th 2017, I will be putting a slightly reluctant cross for Theresa May.

‘Corbyn’s best for me, my country, my family’

The Labour voter

Years contracting: 7
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Structure: PSC
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Skills/Specialism: Agile Business Analyst
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Sectors/ Industries: Financial Services, Media, Digital Transformation
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Location: London
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Voting for: The Labour Party

There are three reasons why I am planning to vote Labour on Thursday. They are that I think it will be best for me, best for my family and best for the country. 

As a freelancer, I recognise that Labour is the main party that is talking about the ‘gig economy’. Yes, they are talking about worker rights but have also recognised the value of the freelance economy. They plan to ban exploitative umbrella and payroll companies. Also on their agenda, is the issue about making agencies declare their margins. They plan to tackle late payment issues too, and if they can help the lower paid self-employed then the value is in separating out the professionals like me and not get us confused. They have also pledged not to make us do our digital tax accounts quarterly.

For my family, it is an easy decision; with two children about to go to university, our family looks at saving over £60,000 on tuition fees. When it comes also to inter-generational equity, the Tories threaten to take away the assets of the older generation leaving them only £100,000 to pass on. We want assets passed down from the sweat of one generation to help the next especially in this age of high property prices. I want my kids to have a chance of a good start, not to be burdened with debt. 

Thirdly I want a strong NHS and education service. I want a government that is going to deliver a positive Brexit and one who won't be weak, wobbly or slow in condemning Donald Trump, whether it is on climate change or military aggression. 

In short, I want a better world for my family and me, one that works for the many not the few. Vote Labour!

‘By default, I’m for Farron’

The Liberal Democrat voter

Years contracting: 15
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Structure: PSC (but umbrellas when abroad)
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Skills/Specialism: Motion Design, Maya, Real Flow, UV Mapping
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Sectors/ Industries: Media & Creative, Government Security
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Location: Manchester
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Voting for: The Liberal Democrats

None of the mainstream parties are particularly contractor-friendly. But there is one policy that is very ‘small-business-friendly,’ and that’s the closest the parties seem get to helping out me and my kind. That policy is to give a living allowance to the owners of start-ups in their early days, and it is contained in the manifesto of the Liberal Democrats. It’s them I’ll be voting for.

This sort of fresh thinking to support micro-business -- which some of us contractors are a specialist strain of -- helps explain why the Lib Dems usurped the Tories at a small business debating event. The event reportedly concluded with the Lib Dems winning 38% of votes from the business audience, better than Labour (19%) and the Tories (25%). At the start of the event, before the policies were heard, Lid Dems were bottom.

Some say the Lib Dems have an unknown, untested leader. I quite like how Tim Farron handled a heckler last month, and felt he was more ‘of the people’ than any of the leaders in ITV’s debate on May 18. The political leaders who actually took part, that is. As to former Lib Dem leader Nick Clegg, I believe he dealt with his broken promise on student tuition fees honestly and transparently. When you make a mistake, apologise. He did exactly that.

So who can we now trust to run “the fifth largest economy in the world” -- a country which also happens to be bankrupt, teetering on a financial crash being fuelled by escalating personal debt and irresponsible bank lending? Well, anyone claiming to be “strong and stable” while constantly acting as ‘the lady for U-Turning’ has no real backbone. Her Brexit ‘team’ still has no apparent negotiating platform. This makes me fear for our future settlement with the EU. Conversely, Corbyn and Abbott (whose almost comic appearances make them fit to be cast in a 2017 version of Abbott and Costello), have presented a dream manifesto. It’s far too ambitiously funded. I’m sure they mean well.    

The bottom line, in my view, is that whichever party is in power, its policy-makers will not slow the rate or direction of attack on the contractor recruitment industryPSCs will not be practical structures or bring financial benefits to most contractors. Tax and NIC hikes will force up gross contract rates and force down recruiter commissions. Recruiters will have to employ most of their contractor placements and use umbrellas as their outsourcing vehicles. Tax avoidance will continue to be eroded and converted into tax evasion.

Very little, on our lot I fear, will change for the significant better. However, I have to cast my vote for someone tomorrow. So I’ll reject the hard left and the hard right. Instead, my cross will be entered in the Lib Dem box. 

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