Shocks & Stares » Government 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 Friday Fiver http://blogs.hillandknowlton.com/shocksandstares/2013/03/friday-fiver-12/ http://blogs.hillandknowlton.com/shocksandstares/2013/03/friday-fiver-12/#comments Fri, 15 Mar 2013 15:24:57 +0000 Joey Ng http://blogs.hillandknowlton.com/shocksandstares/?p=855 1. Just deserts for Chris and Vicky

From the repeated lies of Chris Huhne and Vicky Pryce during trial, to the sub storyline of Huhne’s fractured relationship with his son, this car crash of a soap opera-like story has been played out in full fanfare under the media spotlight. No one likes to air their dirty laundry in public. Perhaps the eight months sentence the pair faces, will draw an end to this thoroughly modern-day Shakespearean saga. Alternatively perhaps they will use the publicity to secure book deals.

Image source: Flikr

2. Britain loses its fizz

The fizz has officially fallen flat as Champagne has been cut from the basket of goods, alongside Freeview boxes and round lettuces. According to Mintel figures, sales of the bubbly have fallen by more than 30% since the hey-days of 2007, from £1billion to an estimated £690million. Trading in bottles of Champagne, typically around £40, are bottles of white rum which can be bought for a fraction of the price.

3. Sterling stagnation is here to stay

This week the ever-struggling sterling hits a two and half year low. Good news for British investors, bad news for holidaying Brits (of which sadly, I will be one of them).

4. There’s no Pope without fire

On Wednesday, for the first time in 1,300 years, a non-European Pope was elected as head of the Roman Catholic Church. A sea of faces welcomed Argentinian Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio as he stepped onto the balcony to rapturous applause. Bergoglio will now live as Pope Francis and take up residence in the Vatican. A far cry from his one bedroom flat in Buenos Aires…

5. Can women have it all?

An interesting commentary piece in the New York Times written by former CFO of Lehman Brothers, Erin Callan on wanting to “have it all” and failing. This was in response to a heated debate sparked by the launch of Sheryl Sandberg’s new book, “Lean in” – and much of our conversations here in the team as well.

Can women strike the perfect work/life balance and really “have it all” or is it simply about “having enough” and being happy with it? What do you think? Leave us a comment below.

Thanks to @goldtorpedo for contributing to this week’s Friday Fiver

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Friday Fiver http://blogs.hillandknowlton.com/shocksandstares/2013/02/friday-fiver-9/ http://blogs.hillandknowlton.com/shocksandstares/2013/02/friday-fiver-9/#comments Fri, 22 Feb 2013 17:47:21 +0000 Edward Jones http://blogs.hillandknowlton.com/shocksandstares/?p=741  

Image source: STV

1. FRIDAY FIVER IS BACK!

After a brief winter hiatus, we are delighted to announce that Friday Fiver is back with a vengeance! We’re sorry we went away and we hope you’ll have us back!

2. Blimey… Tax evaders named and shamed by Revenue

This feels like a bold step from HMRC. Will ramp up pressure on the Govt to disclose big business’ tax evasion – as demonstrated by Margaret Hodge’s intervention.

3. Trial by media or trial by jury?

Judging by the number of online mentions of the tragic incident of Reeva Steenkamp’s death, which was close to 1,000,000 on the day of the shooting, it’s hard to detract from the two trials Oscar Pistorius is facing. One in front of the Magistrate’s court and the other in front of the world’s media and the court of public opinion. Nicely summarised in this piece by Daniel Howden and Ian Burrell at The Independent:

“…in many ways his trial began as soon as news of his lover’s death reached the media. The only difference here is that the facts of the case carry a much lower burden of proof. The slow grind of South Africa’s justice system, which barely recognises contempt of court, has been unable to keep pace in the era of social media and rolling TV news. As a consequence, the first disabled global sports superstar has found himself deluged with accusations and insinuations masquerading as facts.”

4. Harry Styles Backs Ed Miliband for PM

This is BIG NEWS! Really big, but begs the question ‘Who do the other members support?’ Perhaps they’re all lefties! Harry is the lead singer afterall. Ok. What about One Direction’s big rivals - The Wanted? They must be true blues. Mumford and Sons? Lib Dems. Definitely. Their love of string instruments, country folk and their urban upbringing must surely indicate a yellow streak.  

5. FPS FATTIES

And a lighter story to end this week’s Friday Fiver, especially for the snack-loving FPS team, and for the myth of the “H+K stone” to be confirmed by a story in the papers this week. Research by The Village Bakery found that office workers are amongst the worst offenders for piling on the pounds – over 6lbs in fact – with cakes and biscuits brought into work by colleagues. This week already, we’ve had homemade cupcakes brought in by the lovely Clare M and the week before, a deliciously moist lemon drizzle cake made lovingly by Liz, Syrian delights and Jersey fudge from the islands. Temptation is just too hard to resist. Pass the biscuit please.

Thanks to @liyywln for contributing to this week’s Friday Fiver

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The Reshuffle: Three initial thoughts http://blogs.hillandknowlton.com/shocksandstares/2012/09/the-reshuffle-three-initial-thoughts/ http://blogs.hillandknowlton.com/shocksandstares/2012/09/the-reshuffle-three-initial-thoughts/#comments Tue, 04 Sep 2012 14:22:46 +0000 David Chambers http://blogs.hillandknowlton.com/shocksandstares/?p=727 Business, Foreign, Home, Deputy and a host of other key offices of state are still in place following today’s reshuffle, leading some to call it a damp squib. But that doesn’t mean the day isn’t turning out to be highly interesting in other ways. Three initial thoughts on the reshuffle from us as follows (thanks to Matt, Ed and Ed for their views):

1. Britain is back from Summer: The Olympics created an unusually long summer (silly) season and accompanying downtime for politics and business news. Yesterday’s war cry by Cameron, today’s reshuffle and a host of key European dates coming up mean the political and business communities are very much now back. Expect the news agenda to tighten significantly and the tone to darken markedly in the next week or two.

2. The Government has dodged a brick wall on Jeremy Hunt: Whether intentional or not, the shifting of Justine Greening away from Transport and subsequent attack from Boris Johnson that this greenlights Heathrow’s expansion will likely be the lead story on tonight’s evening broadcasts and tomorrow’s papers. Jeremy Hunt’s promotion to Health, despite his public embarrassment over News Corp will enjoy a much more comfortable second or third slot in the billing.

3. Women in the Cabinet is a weak point for Cameron: The Prime Minister has made his commitment to women occupying a third of his cabinet clear. Today’s reshuffle casts doubt on his ability to fulfill it. We don’t know the scope of junior roles yet, but the decision to give Maria Miller both the Culture and Equality/Women briefs looks strange, especially given her lack of profile prior to today. DCMS is an important department, particularly at present so why burden its Minister with a second job instead of promoting another female star to the second role? Labour will be itching to pounce.

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Why Ricky was the wrong person to win the Apprentice (and the others would have been too) http://blogs.hillandknowlton.com/shocksandstares/2012/06/why-ricky-was-the-wrong-person-to-win-the-apprentice-and-the-others-would-have-been-too/ http://blogs.hillandknowlton.com/shocksandstares/2012/06/why-ricky-was-the-wrong-person-to-win-the-apprentice-and-the-others-would-have-been-too/#comments Thu, 07 Jun 2012 13:19:20 +0000 David Chambers http://blogs.hillandknowlton.com/shocksandstares/?p=658 Several of our Financial & Professional Services team are avid Apprentice viewers and in previous years we’ve delighted in writing about the tribulations of the candidates each week (Michael Sophocles and Alex Epstein being two of my all-time favourites).

To my mind, this year’s crop have been less exciting and able than previous vintages, but that didn’t stop me from tuning in for the final last weekend. What I saw though was deeply disappointing.

The Apprentice claims that it aims to find an entrepreneur to “kickstart a company”, backed by the “nation’s most demanding investor” who is “willing to bankroll new business in tough times”.

For the Government, intent on job creation, actively promoting the entrepreneurial spirit and keen on encouraging the “industries of the future” that sounds like manna from heaven – what better shop window for the nation’s entrepreneurial talent than primetime television? Yet once the candidates revealed their ideas and business plans I noticed a distinct trend – for reference their ideas were as follows:

Ricky – a specialist recruitment agency for the pharmaceutical and biotech industries

Tom – a hedge fund focused on the wine industry

Jade – a call centre aimed at securing and selling customer leads on specific product lines

Nick – an online website for ordering recipe lists direct from supermarkets

My disappointment came when I realised two things – firstly, that with the exception of Nick, all the ideas were copycat businesses based on the jobs they already worked in (for example, Ricky is a recruitment consultant). And secondly, that all four of them are essentially service-based companies (again, with the possible exception of Nick).

Nothing wrong with that you say – the UK economy is built on services after all. Yes, that’s very true and services will continue to be the bedrock of the UK’s economy, because, well, we’re very good at it. But considering the Apprentice likely attracted over 7 million viewers on Sunday, surely the public and especially the Government (with its desire to reinvigorate manufacturing and high-tech industries) deserved better than to see a services clean sweep?

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Labouring forward http://blogs.hillandknowlton.com/shocksandstares/2011/06/labouring-forward/ http://blogs.hillandknowlton.com/shocksandstares/2011/06/labouring-forward/#comments Wed, 08 Jun 2011 13:23:48 +0000 Edward Jones http://blogs.hillandknowlton.com/shocksandstares/?p=161 In recent days, I have read an increasing amount of commentary on the relative inability of Labour and its leader Ed Miliband to cut through to the media and by default, reach the public. Those I’ve spoken to have suggested that in opposition, Labour just weren’t prepared for the lack of column inches they would get. A problem exacerbated by the presence of Liberal Democrats as the main agitators to Government by virtue of their, albeit limited, status as coalition partners.

Two articles particularly caught my eye: Dan Hodges posted on Labour Uncut Time for Labour’s flat earthers to get real, an insightful commentary of Labour’s self perception as being too right wing, when in fact, the contrary is true; I’d thoroughly recommend reading it. Most I’ve spoken to have said this is spot on. So I was interested to read this morning on FT’s Westminster blog about Labour’s attempts to re-engage with business, an area most would associate with those on the centre-right of the political spectrum. Not a prawn cocktail offensive on the scale of the mid-nineties, John Denham (Shadow Business Secretary) is keen to establish, but it is telling to see Labour’s recognition of the need to rebuild credibility with this audience.

I suppose acknowledging the problem is the first hurdle to remedying it. Others would argue Labour needs to go much further in acknowledging the extent of the problem(s). However, engaging business is wholly necessary if Labour are to hold the Government to account more effectively and longer term, be a credible alternative to the Coalition.

Business too should not ignore the importance of engaging Labour given they’re currently undertaking a policy review, their role in holding the Government to account and the fact that they will in time, be an alternative to Government.

As highlighted by PoliticsHome’s Dot Commons’ Diary, Ed Miliband himself was at pains to thank journalists for their kind words following his wedding day. In Social Care, he seems to have found an issue to generate media traction. It will be interesting to see whether he can take this form into business and economic issues.

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