15th October 2019
Written by Katie Stanton, Senior Associate
Edited by Tom Gillingham, Associate Partner
Having spent this weekend past with family in the rainy bliss that is the Mendip Hills, complete with snoring Labradors, compulsory group food shops and my mother’s endless bellyaching, it was quite nice to get back to the honesty and solitude of London’s clammy grasp. Anonymity, it seems, is the perfect antidote for the stifling claustrophobia which ensued at the tail end of Sunday, spurred on by excessive ‘banter’ with my thankless sisters. The fiasco culminated in a sparkling two-and-a-half-minute diatribe on how dissatisfying my hair is to all who have the misfortune to gaze upon it. This was revealing – if not typical. For mine is not the only hairdo under scrutiny. Last week, the Washington Times published a story entitled: “Self-declared socialist AOC splurges on high-dollar hairdo”. AOC is an abbreviation for Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, the New York congresswoman famously familiar with being tossed around in a constant, raging stream of media attention. Forgetting for a moment that $300 is arguably a fair price for a haircut and colour in the City, and that you don’t necessarily have to dress in rags to be a socialist, the torrent of abuse directed towards the stuff on her head seems, at best, a poor use of time. At worst, fundamentally sexist. Why isn’t the media scrutinising her policy proposals, rather than castigating her for doing exactly what society expects? (See perfectly articulated tweet by Jessica Valenti). This is just part of a wider problem; many papers are full to the brim with sexist commentary. Kate Middleton is always “touching down in designer” something, while Emily Ratajkowski is “show[ing] off her taut tummy” and Chanelle Hayes is – brace for it – “put[ing] on an eye-popping display in a perilously plunging blue swimsuit”. (I didn’t even have to dig for these headlines, Daily Mail). Women are scrutinised relentlessly. They are judged on their outfits rather than their output; framed in relation to their male counterparts or worse, chastised for trying or failing to meet standards of beauty imposed on them by a system created by men. Fail to conform, get cast aside. Pay to conform, and your reputation is in as much peril as Chanelle’s breasts in that blue cossie. Perhaps this might go some of the way to explaining why, by the age of seven, children are already facing limits on their future aspirations in work. According to a report released today by the OECD international think tank, talent is being wasted due to ingrained stereotyping about gender, social background and race. The first obvious step is to level the playing field: stop framing female role models in relation to their appearance. Unless we start treating women with the same impartiality that we gift to men, I think I’ll be splitting hairs for a fair time to come.
The US has sanctioned two Turkish ministries and three senior government officials in response to the country’s military offensive in northern Syria. President Donald Trump has also phoned his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan to demand an immediate truce. Syria’s army earlier entered areas in the north-east, which could result in a confrontation with Turkish-led forces. An England victory over Bulgaria in the 2020 Euro qualifier was overshadowed last night by racist abuse. The football game was twice paused after England players – specifically Tryone Mings and Marcus Rashford – were subjected to monkey chants by the Bulgarian crowds. Police have banned Extinction Rebellion protests from continuing anywhere in London, as they moved in almost without warning to clear protestors from Trafalgar Square last night. The area had previously been specified by the Metropolitan police as the only legitimate protest site. More than 1,400 people have been arrested during eight days of action from the climate change activists.
Business & Economy
According to think tank Policy Connect, the UK will not meet its climate change targets without a revolution in home heating. Gas central heating boilers, it says, threaten the UK’s clean air goals. The founders of one of Britain’s biggest software developers will share a $460 million payday after their company was acquired by an American private equity fund. San Francisco-based Thoma Bravo agreed to buy the cybersecurity specialist Sophos for $3.8 billion, in the latest overseas takeover of a London company. (£) Facebook will struggle to secure regulatory approval to meet Libra’s planned 2020 launch date, in the latest blow for its digital currency project. The delay follows continued warnings from politicians, officials and regulators that the project carries considerable risks for financial stability and money laundering. In addition, Booking.com yesterday announced it was pulling out of the project — following similar withdrawals from PayPal, eBay, Stripe, Mastercard, Visa and Mercado Pago. (£)
What happened yesterday?
Global stocks were mixed following the agreement of a partial trade deal between the US and China, with Asian equities higher but European shares – and the pound – falling after two days of Brexit talks ended with no breakthrough in sight. The FTSE 100 fell 0.5% on Monday after Michel Barnier, EU chief Brexit negotiator, emphasised the complexity of Boris Johnson’s Brexit deal and reiterated the need for more time. This cast doubt on last week’s optimism, which had previously resulted in a late surge for the pound. Talks are continuing tomorrow and offer “one last chance” to solve the Irish border question. Uncertainty brought volatility to the pound too, with Sterling falling 0.4% against the dollar at $1.26. It fell too against the euro, at €1.14. In China, a cool-down in trade tensions forced technology stocks higher, due to renewed confidence in supply chains. Donald Trump described the agreement, which will see the US hold off on tariff increases planned for this week, as a “substantial phase one deal”. Still, investors remain cautious. After all, implementation will be at the mercy of goodwill on both sides.
Whats happening today?
Bellway Nanoco Sareum
Lidco Walker Greenback
UK Economic Announcements
(09:30) Claimant Count Rate (09:30) Unemployment Rate
Int. Economic Announcements
(10:00) ZEW Survey (GER) – Current Situation (10:00) ZEW Survey (EU) – Economic Sentiment (10:00) ZEW Survey (GER) – Economic Sentiment
Columns of Note
In this morning’s Financial Times, Jason Kirby comments on the latest group tofall out of love with Canadian prime minister Justin Trudeau: millennials. Young voters secured his victory in 2011, spurred on by a message of hope and change echoing that of then-president Barack Obama. But, a string of hypocrisies – including the purchase and approval of the Trans Mountain Pipeline, despite pledging green credentials – has his key demographic finding solace in rival Jagmeet Singh, leader of the left-leaning NDP. (£) Mumsnet is spearheading a culture war, argues Stephen Daisley in this week’s Spectator. The website, which was originally launched as a place to bemoan childcare costs and lazy husbands, has found itself in the vanguard of the radical feminist movement. Flora, the spreadable butter replacement brand, had terminated a commercial relationship with the site, following complaints that trans-hostile posts on Mumsnet forums were not in keeping with its brand values. This, Daisley argues, is the perfect illustration of why it is essential to build a culture of free speech rather than narrowing the public debate by attaching a cost for merely hosting speech. (£)
Did you know?
Roald Dahl had ”a sort of Viking funeral“ and was buried with some burgundy wine, chocolate, HB pencils and his snooker cues.
House of Commons Debate on the Address 2nd day of debate on the Queen’s speech Adjournment 16-17 year olds in unregulated accommodation – Andrew Selous House of Lords Debate on the Address Exiting the EU, trade, foreign affairs and defence – Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon, Lord Callanan Scottish Parliament The Parliament is on recess until 27 October 2019. TOMORROW House of Commons Debate on the Address 3rd day of debate on the Queen’s Speech Adjournment Future of Portishead railway – Dr Liam Fox House of Lords Debate on the Address Exiting the EU, trade, foreign affairs and defence – continued – Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon, Lord Callanan