15 May 2019

Scott Reid

15 May 2019

Good morning,

It’s an age-old question, and one which, quite frankly, I’m relieved we now finally have an answer to.
What are we watching most on our TV screens – cake, cats or climate change?
The answer is a sobering one, if not entirely unsurprising to a millennial such as myself who has been known to procrastinate on university essays via hours of junk food-induced cat video binging. My only defence would be that ‘it’s the telly wot made me do it!’ given cake and cats are among those topics most frequently featured on our screens according to a new report from BAFTA.
Let me explain. In a new report under the pithy title of ‘Subtitles to Save the World’, the British film academy and Deloitte analysed 128,719 non-news programmes from across the BBC, ITV, Channel 4 and Sky during a year’s period from September 2017, tracking mentions of key words in everything from politics to pop culture.
There’s no prize for correctly guessing that ‘Brexit’ topped the list of mentions (68,816 hits), with ‘cake’ (46,063) and ‘cats’ (14,454) making a podium finish. But ‘climate change’ was mentioned just ‘3,125’ times, behind, bafflingly – and in no disrespect to the Bard – ‘Shakespeare’ (5,444) or even ‘zombie’. That’s a damning indictment of our viewing content if I ever saw one.
The other way of looking at it could be pretty positive. If the biggest threat to our planet really is receiving such little attention, then what few mentions it does get, by my reckoning, is starting to make real impact. You’d be hard-pressed to find more iconic viewing in recent years than Sir David Attenborough’s Blue Planet II or Climate Change – The Facts, from which we’ve already had public policy wins including ditching plastic straws or a UK climate change committee upping our ambition for net-zero carbon emissions by 2050. The pressure is most certainly on.
Fret not; unless we’re about to ditch our taste for feline hijinks, I don’t think cats (nor cake for that matter) will be exiting stage left any time soon. But clearly – and more pressingly – neither will climate change. As the likes of Extinction Rebellion, Greta Thunberg or even the onus to properly compost become more ubiquitous in our lives, our screen content must surely follow suit.


A Brexit Withdrawal Bill will be introduced to parliament during the first week of June, the government has confirmed. Although cross-party talks are continuing between Labour and the Conservatives, Downing Street said that the bill’s introduction was “imperative” if the UK is to leave the EU ahead of MPs’ summer recess. Although cabinet agreed early on Tuesday morning that the talks should continue, shadow chancellor John McDonnell has reportedly told The Times that they are “close to collapse”. (£)
There are suggestions that following a breakdown, Theresa May would seek to hold a series of “definitive votes”, asking MPs to rank different Brexit outcomes and promising to act on their preferred outcome.
The Telegraph reports that a Labour government would renationalise sections of the UK’s energy networks at a price of up to £62 billion. According to a leaked party blueprint, all energy network companies’ transmission arms would be brought under public ownership “immediately” following a Labour election win. The blueprint suggests it would employ similar legal tools which allowed a former UK government to nationalise Northern Rock at a price of its own choosing.
The US state of Alabama has passed a law outlawing abortion outright. Passed by a poll of 25 votes to six in the state Senate, which follows an earlier 74-3 vote in Alabama’s House of Representatives, the law would ban abortion entirely, rejecting exemptions for cases of rape or incest. If approved by Republican Governor Kay Ivey, doctors could face 10 years imprisonment, or 99 years for carrying out a procedure.

Business & Economy

Sky News reports that UK government ministers are preparing for the imminent collapse of British Steel following a loan request for up to £75 million. According to company insiders, a financial support loan was agreed earlier this month following fears that a failure to agree terms could lead to the UK’s second largest steel producer falling into administration. A second part of the deal was intended to be finalised last week, with initial investors having reportedly question the future viability of the company.
UK unemployment has fallen to 3.8%, marking its lowest level since the end of 1974. According to new data from the Office for National Statistics, the number of people in work in the three months to March was 32.7 million, an increase of 99,000, whilst unemployment fell by 65,000 to 1.3 million. Annual wage growth excluding bonuses slowed to 3.3% compared with 3.4% reported in February.
The price of oil rose by almost two per cent overnight following a drone attack at refining facilities belonging to Saudi Aramco. According to Saudi Arabian officials, the drones were ordered by a Yemeni-armed movement aligned with Iran. Brent crude oil futures are now up 1.8% at $71.52 a barrel, but West Texas Intermediate rose by 1.4% at $61.91 a barrel.


What happened yesterday?
The London market benefitted from a rebound on Wednesday following promising UK jobs data and warmer words than we have come to expect of US-Chinese trade relations in recent months. By close of play, the FTSE 100 was up 1.09% at 7,241.60 points, whilst the pound was little changed, down by 0.18% on the euro at €1.15 and by 0.37% on the dollar at $1.29.
Alongside record-busting employment data, the ONS also evidence continuing UK wage growth, albeit at a slightly slower pace. The cheer was matched in Washington DC, where President Trump suggested trade talks in China were “going to be very successful” when we knew their result in three to four weeks time. The US Dow Jones Industrial Average posted a rise of 207 points to close at 25,532.05 or 0.82%.
In equity markets, telecoms giant Vodafone (down 3.75%) lost early gains after cutting its full-year dividend to 9 eurocents a share from 15, and warning that further falls were likely. Standard Life Aberdeen (up 1.98%) gained ground after posting a three per cent increase in total assets under management and administration as at 31 March 2019 to £568.9 billion.
On the downside were shares in FTSE 250 group, Renishaw (down 6.43%), where the metrology and healthcare technology provider reported an 18.8% drop in pre-tax profits in the previous nine months.

British Land Company
Speedy Hire
Tavistock Investments
Brewin Dolphin Holdings
Compass Group
Sanderson Group
Ten Lifestyle Group
Tharisa (DI)
TUI AG Reg Shs (DI)
Q1 Results
JPJ Group

Intl. Economic Announcements
(07:00) GDP (Preliminary) (GER)
(10:00) GDP (Preliminary) (EU)
(12:00) MBA Mortgage Applications (US)
(13:30) Retail Sales (US)
(14:15) Capacity Utilisation (US)
(14:15) Industrial Production (US)
(15:00) Business Inventories (US)
(15:30) Crude Oil Inventories (US)

Trading Announcements
Galliford Try
Hargreaves Lansdown
Spirax-Sarco Engineering
Aberdeen Asian Income Fund Ltd.
Tritax Big Box Reit
Be Heard Group
BlackRock Latin American Inv Trust
Charter Court Financial Services Group
Cineworld Group
Cenkos Securities
European Assets Trust  
Jupiter Fund Management
Maven Income & Growth 4 VCT
Miton Group
Moss Bros Group
Paddy Power Betfair
PPHE Hotel Group Ltd
Rockhopper Exploration
Spirax-Sarco Engineering
Secure Trust Bank
Starwood European Real Estate Finance Ltd     
William Hill

Columns of Note

In The Telegraph, the government’s newly-appointed Food Surplus and Waste Champion, Ben Elliot, writes that food waste is an environmental, moral and economic madness. He points out the sobering fact that if global food waste were a country, it would be responsible for the third largest greenhouse gas emissions globally. His article is a call-to-arms on practicable ways businesses and consumers can tackle climate change and inefficient use of resources. 
In The Times Red Box, former First Minister of Scotland, Lord McConnell, reflects on 20 years of devolution. Whilst he believes Holyrood has been a trailblazer in some policy areas, he suggests there is still scope for reform of the UK’s democratic foundations. At a Scottish level, this could include bolstering ministerial accountability, strengthening a proportional voting system and local government, and at the national level, creating a UK council of ministers and a new department for the nations and regions alongside a replacement for the House of the Lords. (£)

Did you know?

There was only ever one Faber (Geoffrey) in the publishing firm Faber & Faber – he added the second to make it sound more respectable.

Parliamentary highlights

House of Commons
Oral questions
Prime Minister's Question Time
Ten Minute Rule Motion
Trade Union (Access to Workplaces) - Faisal Rashid
To approve a Statutory Instrument relating to the draft Higher Education and Research Act 2017 (Further Implementation Etc.) Regulations 2019
General debate
Serious violence - Mrs Theresa May
Services at the Alexandra Hospital - Rachel Maclean
House of Lords
Oral questions
Timetable for the recently proposed consultation to end no fault evictions - Baroness Thornhill
Government discussions with the UK’s creative industries about future access to European markets - Baroness Quin
Criteria used to determine the suitability of candidates for the position of chair of Wilton Park - Baroness Prosser
Reviewing Heathrow airport’s expansion - Baroness Jones of Moulsecoomb
Report from the EU Committee 'Brexit: movement of people in the cultural sector' - Lord Jay of Ewelme
Report from the European Union Committee 'Brexit: Common Security and Defence Policy missions and operations' - Baroness Verma
Report from the European Union Committee 'Brexit: plant and animal biosecurity' - Lord Teverson
Scottish Parliament
Portfolio Questions
Rural Economy
Scottish Liberal Democrat Debate
Treatment Time Guarantee

Members’ Business
Foster Care Fortnight 2019 – Kezia Dugdale
House of Commons
No business scheduled.
House of Lords
Oral questions
Increasing the number of social workers and improving their retention rate - Baroness Donaghy
Increasing the priority given to teaching climate change science - Lord Redesdale
Eradicating Japanese knotweed - Lord Greaves
When the Government expect to report to Parliament on the outcome of discussions on Brexit with the official Opposition. - Lord Dykes
Mental health of children and young adults in the UK - Baroness Royall of Blaisdon
Equality of opportunity and beneficial quality of life for young people. - Baroness Grender
Rivers Authorities and Land Drainage Bill - Second reading - Lord Bethell
Scottish Parliament
General Questions
First Minister’s Questions
Members’ Business
Community Pharmacy Scotland – Alexander Stewart
Portfolio Questions
Scottish Government Debate
Impact of Brexit on Scotland’s Food and Drink