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The Freedom Zone
The Freedom Association has been running Freedom Zones at party conferences since 2008, and they are quickly becoming one of the most exciting parts of the fringe!
The first Freedom Zone was conceived in 2006 at the Conservative Party conference in Bournemouth. Roger Helmer MEP had the whip removed in 2005 for signing a censure motion against the European Commission President José Manual Barroso for accepting lavish hospitality from a Greek ship-owner whose companies soon after received Commission approval for grant funding, and then criticising Hans-Gert Poettering, President of the EPP group for trying to stop the issue being debated. Roger asked The Freedom Association to run a Better Off Out stand at the party conference. Their application was initially accepted by the Conservatives, but the next day TFA received a call from the Tories apologising that there were ‘no spaces left’. Simon Richards, TFA director, got a few other organisations to ring up and ask for space – all of which were informed that there certainly was. The Freedom Association had been banned.
Simon then hit on the idea of running an exhibition outside the conference hall – and The Freedom Zone was born.
Since then, The Freedom Zone has been to an increasing number of party conferences, in 2011 going to the UKIP, Lib Dem and Tory ones, and in 2012 also to the Labour conference.
The Freedom Zone always boasts an impressive roster of speakers and interesting topics. From MPs to MEPs, journalists to councillors, think tank researchers to economists, The Freedom Zone has hosted a wide variety of people to challenge, entertain and enlighten the audience.
For those in their party who lean towards the freedom centric end of things, The Freedom Zone is an area to meet and network with like-minded thinkers. Over the years, as party conference fringes have tended towards being run by vested interests and lobbyists, and topics increasingly shallow, The Freedom Zone is, as Jonathan Isaby put it:
“The one place on the fringe where ordinary members were taking part in no holds barred debates about a variety of issues… at a venue a stone’s throw from the main conference centre featuring a string of refreshingly open debates – with a number of top-notch speakers – which were full of ordinary party members: the good old-fashioned fringe as I remember it.”
We hope that you can make it along to The Freedom Zone to be part of the discussion. If you would like to be involved or find out more about The Freedom Zone, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Freedom in the City on 22nd May with JP Floru on May 22, 2013 12:30 pm
- The Freedom Association’s Magna Carta Pimms and Politics Cruise on June 15, 2013 12:30 pm
- Conservative Renewal Conference on September 14, 2013
- The Freedom Zone on September 30, 2013
- The Freedom Zone on October 1, 2013
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