Sunday Trading: How You Made a Difference

Well, that went well.  Not many organisations can put defeating the government on their CV, but after yesterday’s Commons vote against devolving Sunday trading laws, ACS, Usdaw and the rest of the Keep Sunday Special campaign can claim this rare distinction.  There will be plenty of time to reflect on the details of the campaign, and plenty of people to thank for their contribution, but I wanted to write about the role that individual retailers can play in making real change in politics.

Last night’s vote co-incided with an ACS briefing and dinner, and I found myself talking to a table that included Manchester Spar retailer Paul Stone, Kishor Patel who runs Nisa stores near Luton, and Mike Greene, head of the My Local business.  They, and many other retailers, influenced the law of the land, because each of their MPs were among the 24 Conservative rebels, and they may well have not been if it wasn’t for these retailers.

Paul attended the Keep Sunday Special mass lobby in parliament on 29 February (this post features a picture of him with his local MP William Wragg pledging to support the campaign).  Kishor’s local MP Nadine Dorries used her speech in the debate to talk about Kishor as an example of a great local business that would have been hit by the government’s proposals.  Mike’s MP, Stewart Jackson, was a steadfast rebel who intervened in the debate and made a number of excellent arguments against the government.

So what would have happened if Paul, Kishor and Mike hadn’t bothered to talk to their MPs about this issue? Maybe they would have voted against the government anyway, maybe they would still have spoken up in parliament and in the media, maybe the margin of victory would have just been 25 votes, not 31.  I’m glad they didn’t take that chance, and took the responsibility to get their message across.  Every Conservative rebel gave other would-be rebels more confidence to oppose the government, and if it wasn’t for Paul, Kishor and Mike, and other retailers, shop workers, faith groups and other businesses who also took this responsibility, I am certain we would have seen a different result last night.

We can make a difference, collectively and individually, and we need to take this into other campaigns.

This entry was posted by Chris on Thu, 10/03/2016 - 09:27