20 March 2019

Tom Gillingham

20 March 2019

Good morning,

It’s fair to say the news makes for fairly bleak reading at the moment. As well as the dispiriting state of domestic and global affairs, we must now also contend with poorly constructed instant reaction to almost every story.
If you hated ‘vox pops’ becoming a staple of TV news, I’m guessing you aren’t enjoying the digital reboot, the ‘hot take’, a huge amount either.
A hot take is broadly defined as “a piece of deliberately provocative commentary that is based almost entirely on shallow moralising”. When in response to a news story it is, “usually written on tight deadlines with little research or reporting, and even less thought”.
Now, please bear with me while I use this commentary to engage in some moralising.
It feels like the hot take is very much enjoying its moment in the sun. In recent weeks we we’ve had the joys of a sitting MP genuinely proposing that all knives should be fitted with GPS trackers, former footballers helpfully suggesting armed police should tackle pitch invaders and hot take baker extraordinaire Piers Morgan trying desperately to recapture the success of his vegan sausage roll antics.
Both social media and online reporting have given the instant reaction a whole new platform. Opinions that would traditionally be found at the bottom of a pint glass or at the tail end of a particularly niche football phone-in are now placed alongside more considered commentary in public discourse.
The hot take is clearly here to stay. After all, there’s a common misconception that this particular monster is the only way to feed the voracious click economy upon which much of the internet is built.
There may be another way, however. Despite the heat and noise from the armies of reactionaries, long form content is also enjoying a quiet revival online thanks to a combination of user appetite and Google’s SEO ranking systems
I wonder if, in the future, we will treat the rise of the hot take in a similar way to the profusion of single-use plastics. After all, they cling to almost everything, are often seen as a quick and easy solution, yet they have the potential to do long-term damage to our public environment.
So, who’s in favour of a 5p hot take tax? Don’t @ me.


As further details of the devastation caused by Cyclone Idai emerge, the UN says it may be the worst such disaster to strike the southern hemisphere. It is estimated that more than 2.6 million people could be affected after the cyclone swept through Mozambique, Zimbabwe and Malawi last week, destroying almost everything in its path, causing floods and killing and injuring thousands of people.
With just nine days until the UK leaves the EU - with or without a deal - it has been confirmed that Theresa May will not be asking the EU for a long delaywhen she requests a formal Brexit postponement. The EU has already expressed its scepticism about the benefits of a delay, with EU Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier saying the EU would not grant a delay without a "concrete plan" from the UK.
A new study has found that people who take a ten-minute walk once a week are 18 percent less likely to die within a decade (£). The findings, which also showed - perhaps unsurprisingly - that vigorous exercise such as running or playing sport appeared to bring even greater benefits, were welcomed by health secretary Matt Hancock.

Business & Economy

The chief executive of Kingfisher, the group that owns B&Q and Screwfix, is to step down after profits fell by 13% over the last year. Despite being three years into a five year turnaround plan, Veronique Laury will leave the company at an unspecified future date.
Amidst the ongoing fallout from the Ethiopian Airlines crash on March 10, the US government has ordered a review into the way in which the Federal Aviation Administration approved the Boeing 737 Max 8 aircraft (£), as other countries call into question the U.S.’ ability to set global safety standards.
Bayer AG’s shares have slumped in pre-market trading after the company lost the first phase of a trial in the U.S. over claims its Roundup weed killer causes cancer. The trial, which the German company inherited after its acquisition of Monsanto Co., will now move to a second phase to determine liability and damages in the case of a man who sprayed the herbicide on his property for decades. There may be a further 11,200 cases of a similar nature pending across the U.S.


What happened yesterday?

London stocks continued to nudge higher as investors appeared to be encouraged by data showing UK unemployment dropping to its lowest level since 1975. The FTSE 100 recorded its highest close since early October - by the end of the day it had increased by 0.3% to reach 7,324.00.
It was a mixed day on Wall Street, despite hopes that the Federal Reserve will maintain a cautious tone over monetary policy. The Dow Jones Industrial Average closed down 0.10% at 25,887.38, while the S&P 500 was very marginally down by 0.01% at 2,832.57. The Nasdaq Composite finished up 0.12%, at 7,723.95.
Despite some moves during the day, the Pound ended broadly flat, at 1.33 against the Dollar and at 1.17 against the Euro.

Centaur Media
Curtis Banks Group      
Eland Oil & Gas
EMIS Group
Empiric Student Property
Frontier Smart Technologies Group Limited
Genel Energy
Science In Sport
Ten Entertainment Group
TI Fluid Systems
Kier Group

Arden Partners
Safestore Holdings
Samsung Electronics Co Ltd (ATT) GDR (Reg S)

UK Economic Announcements
(09:30) Consumer Price Index
(09:30) Producer Price Index
(09:30) Retail Price Index
(11:00) CBI Industrial Trends Surveys
Intl. Economic Announcements
(07:00) Producer Price Index (GER)
(11:00) MBA Mortgage Applications (US)
(14:30) Crude Oil Inventories (US)

Columns of note

In a strange intervention, Donald Trump Jr. writes that Theresa May should have listened to his father’s advice over Brexit, in a piece for the Telegraph (£). He suggests that “elites [controlling] London from Brussels” mean the will of the people will be ignored.
Writing in the Guardian, Rafael Behr suggests that all sides could lose as we edge away from Brexit. He argues that the latest twists and turns need to be reframed as a victory for common sense, rather than a defeat for national pride.

Did you know?

It’s estimated that the world's oceans contain 20 million tons of gold.
Parliamentary highlights
House of Commons
Oral questions
International Development (including Topical Questions)
Prime Minister's Question Time
Ten Minute Rule Motion
Destitution Domestic Violence Concession (Eligibility) - Kirsty Blackman
Draft Relationships Education, Relationships and Sex Education and Health Education (England) Regulations 2019 - Mr Damian Hinds
Draft Non-Domestic Rating (Rates Retention and Levy and Safety Net) (Amendment) and (Levy Account: Basis of Distribution) Regulations 2019 - Rishi Sunak
Flags (Northern Ireland) (Amendment) (EU Exit) Regulations 2019 - Karen Bradley
Exports from small businesses - Jack Brereton
House of Lords
Oral questions
Preventing destitution among newly recognised refugees - Baroness Lister of Burtersett
Meetings scheduled after 29 March 2019 between Ministers and representatives of the EU - Lord Beith
Initiatives the Foreign and Commonwealth Office has put in place to strengthen bilateral relations with individual EU member states after Brexit - Baroness Smith of Newnham
Changes to outsourcing of public services as a result of Interserve entering into administration - Lord Wallace of Saltaire
Trade Bill - Third reading - Baroness Fairhead
The economy in the light of the Spring Statement - Lord Young of Cookham
Scottish Parliament
Portfolio Questions

Scottish Labour Party Debate
Student Support
Free bus travel for Under-25s
Members’ Business
Prevalence of Crohn’s and Colitis in Scotland – Pauline McNeill

House of Commons
Oral questions
Transport (including Topical Questions)
Business Statement
Business Questions to the Leader of the House - Andrea Leadsom
House of Lords
Oral questions
The New Home Standard and measures to ensure accessible and adaptable standards are met - Baroness Thomas of Winchester
Orders and regulations
European Union (Withdrawal) Act 2018 (Consequential Modifications and Repeals and Revocations) (EU Exit) Regulations 2019 - Lord Callanan

Scottish Parliament 

First Minister's Questions

Scottish Government Debate

Land reform in Scotland, delivering for now and the future

Portfolio Questions
Health and Sport