A signature statement for those justifying sporting obsessions can be found in the words of former Liverpool manager, Bill Shankly:
“Some people believe football is a matter of life and death. I am very disappointed with that attitude. I can assure you it is much, much more important than that."
He delivered his fair share of hyperbole relating to the sport. Yet while the quote only holds true with the game’s most devoted fans, this has been a summer where football has taken on a wider significance beyond the act of kicking the modern equivalent of a pig’s bladder between two poles.
The Women’s World Cup saw women’s sport gain and hold a spotlight it has rarely been allowed to occupy on its own. Over six million in the UK saw Scotland return to an international football tournament in the game against England, and over 28 million are estimated to have watched at least some of the BBC’s coverage of the tournament. Regardless of whether this focus on the domestic game is sustained, this kind of attention challenges the presumption that the women’s game cannot compete with its male equivalent for attention. The barriers that have fallen with regard to what a national football star looks like will also hopefully lead to other presumptions of gendered roles being challenged.
Also seen were the wider societal issues that high-performing women face in other sectors. The tournament champions, the United States, won with players who are also preparing a potential lawsuit against their own federation over a reported £575,000 gap in bonuses between the team and their male counterparts. The same male counterparts, it should be said, who failed to qualify for the previous World Cup after losing to Trinidad & Tobago.
It is little surprise, for the highest levels of the sport are only reflecting the continued gender pay and progression issues we have yet to fully address. It was reported in April that the gender pay gap in large UK companies and government departments had only shrunk by 0.1% between 2018 and 2019. To top off this sense of progress stalling, it was revealed last week that 16 companies on the FTSE 250 have fallen behind on ensuring female representation on their boards, with four companies having no women in its senior team. Looking further down the career progression ladder, and you find women in Scotland are significantly more likely to work part time and in low paid occupations compared to men, entrenching current gaps in overall pay.
As the US players walked around on Sunday, holding the World Cup trophy aloft, a chant of “equal pay!” broke out in the stands. It is sad that it is a fight they must take up, but it also offers a reminder of the progress that is still to be fought for.
Last night’s Conservative leadership debate was a combative one, initially focusing on Brexit but with the ramifications of the ‘ambassador row’ coming to the fore. On the former, Jeremy Hunt responded to demands that he commit to leaving the EU by 31 October by calling on his rival, Boris Johnson, to resign if he didn’t achieve this. Later, Hunt’s outright rejection of further calls from Donald Trump for the ambassador, Sir Kim Darroch, to be fired was not matched by his rival.
In a televised address, the chief executive of the Hong Kong Legislative Council, Carrie Lin, claimed the proposed Extradition Bill which sparked mass protests in the city state is now “dead”. She described efforts to introduce it as a “total failure” though critics pointed out that the Bill itself has yet to be completely withdrawn. She also refused to resign, claiming she still had “a passion” to serve the people.
The House of Commons voted in favour of amendments which obligate the UK Government to intervene on abortion and same-sex marriage laws in Northern Ireland. The amendments would only come into force if the Northern Irish Assembly is not restored by 21 October. Following speculation that the SNP would abstain due to the amendments pertaining to devolved issues, its MPs were also given a free vote.
Business & Economy
Amid continued uncertainty over the UK economy and Brexit,poor retail conditionscontinued in June according to the BRC. It revealed a 1.3% fall in sales figures for the sector, in contrast to last summer’s men’s World Cup-boosted figures. This was driven by a 2.1% fall in non-food sales over the three months up to June, the biggest fall since 2009.
A series of predictions ahead of tomorrow’s latest ONS estimate for Britain’s GDP indicate that further economic strife may be on the way. A Reuters survey of economists indicated that they expect the ONS to reveal just 0.1% growth, while a separate Bloomberg survey of economistssuggestedthat the UK economy will experience negative quarterly growth for the first time since 2012 during Q2 2019.
In the latest ramification over GDPR compliance, the Information Commissioner’s Office has announcedMarriot Hotels has been fined £99m. It follows an incident in 2018, where 339 million hotel records were exposed in a data breach.
What happened yesterday?
The FTSE 100 closed down 0.17%. This followed fluctuations in the currency market which saw the pound fall to a two-year low against the dollar. Its value is now below $1.25 for every pound, and it also fell against the euro to €1.11.
The US markets reacted to falling optimism that the US Federal Reserve would cut rates at its July meeting, as well as a fall in the number of US job openings. The Dow Jones fell 22.65 points to close at 26,783.49, while the S&P 500 ended marginally ahead up 0.12%. The Nasdaq rose 0.54% thanks to gains from the tech giants of Amazon, Facebook and Netflix.
What's happening today?
UK Economic Announcements
(08:30) Gross Domestic Product
(09:30) Balance of Trade
(09:30) Index of Services
(09:30) Manufacturing Production
(09:30) Industrial Production
International Economic Annoncements
Crude Oil Inventories (US)
Wholesales Inventories (US)
Columns of Note
The idea that machine learning could one day ‘represent’ our views on political decisions is not that farfetched, according to Daniel Finkelstein’s latest column in The Times. He discusses the role of his father in identifying “proper” measurements of human behaviour, and how these had already filtered through in the polling and focus group-based policy making of the past several governments. He argues that, with the volume of data available, this has now gone even further, with social media providing an even better profile of individual voters en masse. The end point of all this, he suggests, will be a politics so rooted in algorithms of modelled behaviour that we will venture towards “voteless democracies”. (£)
Amy Davidson-Sorkin of the New Yorker provides an American perspective on the leaking of diplomatic cables from the UK’s ambassador to the US, Sir Kim Darroch. She acknowledges that the primary fallout from this is in Britain, with internal Conservative party politics now playing out on an international scale. What she suggests has been ignored, though, is the criticism that the memos offered of the Republican Party and Donald Trump’s inner circle. Both of whom, at the start of the communiques in 2016, were expected to act as a calming influence are now are felt to be “four-square behind him”. It remains to be seen if this unity allows Trump to, in the words of Darroch, “emerge from the flames, battered but intact, like Schwarzenegger in the final scenes of The Terminator.”
Did you know?
It is estimated that at the Wimbledon Championships, over 27 tonnes of strawberries and 7,000 litres of cream are consumed.
Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster and Minister for the Cabinet Office (including Topical Questions)
Prime Minister's Question Time
Ten Minute Rule Motion
Public Advocate - Maria Eagle
Animal Welfare (Sentencing) Bill: 2nd reading
Tackling Climate Change, Protecting the Environment and Securing Global Development
Child and adolescent mental health services in the North East - Mrs Sharon Hodgson
The work of the Office of the Secretary of State for Scotland with David Mundell, Secretary of State for Scotland
House of Lords
Government consultation on requiring transparency in publishing parental leave practices for companies with over 250 employees - Baroness Burt of Solihull
Financial arrangements and auditing of multi-academy trusts - Lord Storey
Newly designated UNs Day for commemorating the victims of acts of violence based on religion or belief - Baroness Berridge
Ensuring universities properly investigate allegations of racism - Lord Bassam of Brighton
National Insurance Contributions (Termination Awards and Sporting Testimonials) Bill - Committee stage - Lord Young of Cookham
Non-Domestic Rating (Public Lavatories) Bill [HL] - Second reading - Lord Bourne of Aberystwyth
Northern Ireland (Executive Formation) Bill – Second reading - Lord Duncan of Springbank
In recess until Monday 1 September.
House of Commons
Women and Equalities
Business Questions to the Leader of the House - Mel Stride
General Debate on 20 Years of Devolution - Pete Wishart
Debate on a Motion relating to Leasehold Reform - Mr Clive Betts
Centenary of GCHQ - Alex Chalk
House of Lords
Imposition and operation of public spaces protection orders - Lord Clement-Jones
Availability of NHS dentistry services - Baroness Gardner of Parkes
Whether the number of frigates in commission available for operations will fall below 13 in any year before 2026 - Lord West of Spithead
De-escalating tensions in the Gulf of Oman - Lord Bates
Creating an environment which encourages business growth and job creation, especially in relation to the tax system - Baroness Neville-Rolfe
The extent of persecution of people of faith in this century - Lord Elton
Church of England’s social media community guidelines published on 1 July and steps to promote positive social media behaviour - The Lord Bishop of St Albans
In recess until Monday 1 September.