An audience member has blasted a Labour MP for “living in a bubble” for not understanding the struggles faced by small businesses.
During a heated exchange over the public sector pay freeze, Labour shadow minister Richard Burgon was upbraided after continuing to make the party’s case of ending the Tory cap.
But one small business owner intervened, suggesting the debate had been too skewed. Earlier this week, David Cameron suggested it was “selfish” to quit the austerity programme that has pegged back the pay of teachers, nurses and firefighters. And one man from the Burton-on-Trent audience said:
“What about employers themselves who run businesses and employ people? You live in a bubble. You live in a Westminster bubble where you don’t know the real world. OK. You don’t pay business rates. You don’t pay pensions. You’re in a bubble. You are in a bubble, I’m afraid. You’ve got to start realising there are people self-employed in this country that generate growth whether they employ one person or 50 people. All I ever hear is - let’s look after the public-sector. Do you know what it’s like running your own business? You don’t because you’re a politician, you haven’t got a clue.”
Burgon responded he does “live in the real world, I live in Leeds, the constituency I represent”, before arguing Labour “does talk” about small business.
“That’s why, in our manifesto, one of our policies was to bring in paternity pay, maternity pay and sick pay for the self-employed,” he said, before journalist Susie Boniface pointed out “no self-employed person can cease, close down their company, and take a year off because they’ve had a child”.
Panellists on the show, presented by David Dimbleby, also included Tory MP Jacob Rees-Mogg, Green Party MP Caroline Lucas, and Craig Oliver, David Cameron’s former head of communications.