Shocks & Stares » Cameron http://blogs.hillandknowlton.com/shocksandstares H&K\'s Financial & Professional Services Team Blog Tue, 19 Mar 2013 08:00:56 +0000 http://wordpress.org/?v=2.9.2 en hourly 1 Cameron needs to communicate a vision to leave a legacy http://blogs.hillandknowlton.com/shocksandstares/2012/04/cameron-needs-to-communicate-a-vision-to-leave-a-legacy/ http://blogs.hillandknowlton.com/shocksandstares/2012/04/cameron-needs-to-communicate-a-vision-to-leave-a-legacy/#comments Mon, 23 Apr 2012 09:38:24 +0000 Edward Jones http://blogs.hillandknowlton.com/shocksandstares/?p=649 The Government, well, Number 10 actually, is in a quandary. On the one hand, there is a need for quick wins to move on from what has memorably been described, in the words of Malcolm Tucker, as an omni-shambles. On the other, the Prime Minister is presiding over a period of austerity. The two, unfortunately, are not compatible.

At first austerity measures were seen as essential to return to economic growth, but the implications of this are now starting to bite. The quick wins on their own are not sufficient to change perceptions. If Number 10 is to change perceptions, a coherent narrative, with stories that constantly reinforce what David Cameron is trying to do is required.

As Oliver Wright and Andrew Grice write in The Independent, Number 10 has been looking for good news stories across Government for Cameron to be personally associated with. The hope is that any good news story will move the agenda on from the current post-budget malaise. The problem with this approach is these stories, good though they might seem, fail to form part of a coherent narrative. They do nothing to alter the perception of the Government as overseeing economic hardship. 

The prospects for the average voter look bleak. Less money. More tax. Later retirement. That’s before you put it in the context of a class war. Philip Collins notes in his excellent article in The Times that Number 10 needs to communicate that all this pain is not for nothing. Collins should know the merits of communicating a long term ambition, having been present as Tony Blair struggled to come to terms with what his legacy ought to be. Cameron is now at this same juncture. Collins has written the basis of what Cameron’s narrative might look like:

“The first [pledge] is that we will restore this country to economic health. We will clear the horrible mess in the public finances that was left once the other side had finished its irresponsible partying. We will get Britain moving.

“The second commitment I can make is that the burden of austerity will be shared out fairly. By the end of this Parliament, it will be clear that those with the broadest shoulders will have taken most of the weight. We all have to make a contribution in accordance with our means. That is only fair.

“That leads to my third pledge. When prosperity returns to Britain, which it will, the hard-working families, those who are digging us out of a hole they were thrown into, will see the benefit.”

It is fair to say that the first point is well understood and well communicated. Credit where credit is due, the messages on this point were relentless and the Conservatives and George Osborne in particular should take credit for successfully undermining Gordon Brown’s economic record and mentally preparing voters for economic hardship.

Number 10 and the Treasury have acknowledged that the second point above is important, but they have been unconvincing in their attempts to convince the electorate that the burden is being shared equally.

The third element, which promises light at the end of the tunnel or, put another way, hope, has been non-existent.

Number 10’s communications can’t simply be seen through the prism of points one and two. Moreover, the economic legacy that this Prime Minister will leave behind will belong to George Osborne. The promise of a better future however is absolutely critical and has thus far been forgotten. If Cameron is to leave a legacy of his own, then he has to convince voters that under his stewardship a better future lies ahead.

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Friday Fiver http://blogs.hillandknowlton.com/shocksandstares/2012/02/friday-fiver-6/ http://blogs.hillandknowlton.com/shocksandstares/2012/02/friday-fiver-6/#comments Fri, 24 Feb 2012 15:29:44 +0000 Edward Jones http://blogs.hillandknowlton.com/shocksandstares/?p=554 1. Peston & Hester on the One show: On the eve of RBS’ eagerly anticipated results this week, Stephen Hester, the undersiege Chief Executive, took to the airwaves to defend RBS. The interview on the One Show was as expected, up until the point Robert Peston, commenting that bankers usually hate the limelight, asked ‘Are you enjoying yourself?

Hester’s response was telling:

‘The limelight I hate. I don’t know if I’d have done it if I had my time again, but I’m here and what I care a lot about is can RBS succeed? I think it can, I want to be part of the team that made it succeed, and I’m gritting my teeth about the rest and pushing on with that.’

I was impressed with two things: first, his honesty, and secondly his determination. Both came through during the interview and set the tone for how the results were received the following day.  

2. Another week, another Greek bailout: A second bailout in as many years, amid constant rangling begs the simple question will it last? I’m not convinced.   

3. A less marked U-turn, but a U-turn nonetheless: Cameron ‘attacked’ anti-business rhetoric this week decrying those who criticise big business as ‘dangerous’. Quite. I’m pleased to say it wasn’t just us that noticed the irony of this statement. 

4. Only girls allowed: An advert with face recognition technology is highlighting discrimination against women for children’s charity, Plan UK. The ad on Oxford Street ignores men and will only play to women aiming to send a message about equality. Perhaps the Government could place one in the boardrooms of Britian’s biggest companies in its drive to improve equality.

5. The Sun on Sunday: Finally, we’re eagerly anticipating our little trip to the newsagents this Sunday morning to get our hands on the first edition of the Sun on Sunday, to complement our last edition of the News of the World. Don’t forget yours.

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Friday Fiver http://blogs.hillandknowlton.com/shocksandstares/2011/12/friday-fiver-4/ http://blogs.hillandknowlton.com/shocksandstares/2011/12/friday-fiver-4/#comments Fri, 09 Dec 2011 18:32:35 +0000 Edward Jones http://blogs.hillandknowlton.com/shocksandstares/?p=462 For this week’s festive fill of Friday fun from the FPS team, sorry, I’ll stop with the Fs now. This week’s 5r below…

UK goes alone over Europe

Picture: BBC

It looks like the Prime Minister, David Cameron, has bowed to domestic pressure at the expense of international, or at least European influence. The history of Europe and the Conservative party looms large over his decision, but it does appear to represent an element of weakness in his leadership which wasn’t there before. The PM’s detractors are getting increasingly confident, backbench MPs were particularly vocal in PMQs this week, and one commentator even questioned what the odds might be on all party leaders being in present position by the time of the next election; at the moment it feels like an appealing bet. At least Cameron can take heart in Labour’s travails which it seems, according to the latest opinion polls, are getting worse.   

Christmas on the High Street

Every year it seems to get later. Logically you’d think that the busiest day on the high street would be mid-December, to allow time to wrap gifts and because people are keen to avoid the last minute dash.

Guess the road...

In reality, the busiest shopping periods over the past few years have been shifting towards the 22nd, 23rd or even 24th Dec as our client Visa showed last year, with 23 December being the peak. Christmas arouses the best of our consumerism, but even that has finally been dampened by high inflation and low or no wage growth. Why is this? Firstly, there’s the economic situation. Secondly, is the knock on effect of this dampening – retailers have to work extra hard to get us into shops. Discounting is the most effective way to do this but this presents a problem – discount too soon and your margins shrink. With big stock bills and rent to pay, its hard to afford that for long. So begins a game of poker between retailer and customer – the retailer always blinks first, it’s just a question of when.

It can’t be! Some good news…

In a rebuff to Dr Doom, the UK’s export market is apparently staging a come back. According to ONS statistics published today the value of UK’s exports have hit a record high and we’ve been importing less, meaning a narrowing trade deficit. Chemicals, medical products, and telecoms equipment performed particularly strongly in what will be seen as a boost to the Government, UKTI and the Department for Business who are banging the drum on this increasingly loudly. In last week’s Autumn statement the Government allocated £10 million to help mid-size British businesses export and £35 million to double, from 25,000 to 50,000, the number of SMEs that UKTI supports each year.  Analysts have cautiously welcomed the news, but the Government will be delighted.

There’s an app for that

You may have noticed, but the Fiver team are rather fond of the FT. On Tuesday everybody’s favourite pink paper launched an app for Android, which will replace the slightly clunky web browser version. We’ll await the Apple version with anticipation. If anyone has got round to downloading the new app, we’d be interested to hear what you think.

Osborne and Balls get in the Festive spirit

George Osborne and Ed Balls

Enough said.

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