11th December 2019
Written by Scott Reid, Associate Partner
Edited by Harriet Moll, Creative Director
One minute to ten. Tea, Tunnocks and Twitter at the ready. Grown adults - who should probably be in bed before the morning commute - and political geeks like myself - who probably need to get a life - poised for a frenzy of hot takes and much hand-wringing. Such is the anticipation that now meets the publication of YouGov’s hallowed MRP poll on the eve of a UK general election. And much like Boris Johnson smashing through a wall of polystyrene bricks at the helm of a JCB, last night’s poll brought some confusion and consternation onto the political scene. According to YouGov, the Tories have reason to be nervous. The MRP (which stands for multilevel regression and post-stratification and applies more than 100,000 interviews against the demographic and behavioural characteristics of each constituency), suggests they are on course for 339 seats, a majority of 28 seats which has more than halved since YouGov’s last questionnaire on November 28. Labour are predicted to win 231, the SNP 41 and the Lib Dems 15. Crucially, a hung parliament is now within the margin of error. OK. Polls get it wrong. A lot and often in melodramatic fashion. Trump in 2016; May in 2017; Australia’s federal election earlier this year – there are a fair few epic fails to choose from. But polls matter in and of themselves, regardless of their accuracy. They are mini earthquakes which drive the course of a campaign and can make-or-break an election, particularly when voters in this contest are likely to vote tactically in bigger numbers than ever before. Take voters in Lanark and Hamilton East, Gordon, Banff and Buchan, Moray, East Renfrewshire, Ochil and South Perthshire, and North East Fife – seven seats in Scotland alone where a single percentage point, according to this MRP, could variously swing it for the Tories, SNP or Lib Dems. If campaigners in those seats can get their message out that every vote counts (often a rarity in our first-past-the-post system), voters are bound to feel empowered and actually swing one way or the other. So, we may scoff, but take heed. If one thing will drive campaign tactics and the comment agenda today, the last day before tomorrow’s election, it is this poll. And then, with the campaign banners stowed away, we can all sit back and relax before hitting the roof once again as the exit poll drops in less than 36 hours.
The US House Judiciary Committee has revealed its impeachment charges against President Trump. Speaking yesterday, Committee chief Jerry Nadler accused Trump of abuse of power and obstruction of Congress, claiming that the president withheld aid to Ukraine for domestic political reasons. If the Committee votes to approve the articles later this week, they will be submitted to a full vote of the House of Representatives later this week, and in turn, the Senate, in early January. Research from the international polar research team, IMBIE, has suggested Greenland is losing ice seven times faster than it was during the 1990s. It suggests that an additional seven centimetres of ocean rise could be expected by 2100 from Greenland, which would leave up to 400 million people at risk of coastal flooding. The US, Mexico and Canada have reached agreement on a deal which will replace the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). The Democrat-controlled US House of Representatives yesterday approved the deal as the last step in the ratification process, despite talks having concluded over a year ago. The new US-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) reduces tariffs on goods produced and traded in the region with key reforms based in the automotive, steel and dairy industries.
Business and economy
Maurice Saatchi and three independent directors have resigned from M&C Saatchi in a dispute over governance reforms. The FT reports that the mass exit was also prompted by the refusal of chief executive David Kershaw to resign from the advertising company following the revelation of incorrect statements on revenues and costs in August. The three other non-executive directors to resign included Michael Dobbs, a Tory peer; Michael Peat, former private secretary to Prince Charles; and Lorna Tilbian, a former investment banker with Numis. (£) The ONS has revealed the numbers of pubs in Britain has increased for the first time since 2010. In March 2019, the UK hosted 39,135 pub, 320 more than in 2018. The numbers are down to increases in England alone, and mainly thanks to larger chains. Meanwhile, JD Wetherspoon has announced the creation of 10,000 jobs in the UK and Ireland over the next four years. The pub chain said it would invest £200 million in new pubs and hotels which will be based in small and medium-sized towns.
Columns of note
Alice Thomson writes in The Times that there are reasons to be optimistic about the rather “odd” decade of the 2010s after all. Thomson notes how the 2010s have been characterised above all by turning expectations on their head - from the demonstrator’s optimism during the Arab Spring to the pessimism of scenes in Hong Kong and Paris; or how Big Tech leaders have gone from heroes to villains. She concludes that despite Brexit or Trump, the 2010s made Britons happier, healthier and greener, which should be cause for celebration as we step into the 2020s. (£)
In The Atlantic, Cullen Murphy suggests that our predictions of doom for the future of the internet are probably wrong. Looking at the ideas of historian Betty Eisenstein who compared the growth of the internet since 2000 to the first years of the printing press during the 15th century, Murphy suggests that it’s easy to forget how unforeseeable the “unforeseeable” really is. After all, when we look back at those who prophesy about the future, how many actually get it right?
What happened yesterday?
The London market fell yesterday, but managed to regain on earlier plummets as a result of weaker UK economic growth and US-China trade uncertainty. The FTSE 100 finished down 0.28% at 7,213.76 points with the pound trading 0.24% higher on the dollar at $1.32 and up 0.03% on the euro at €1.19. Earlier in the day, the Office for National Statistics reported that the UK economy flatlined at 0.0% growth during October, marking its weakest reading on annualised growth (0.7%) since 2011. The UK services sector grew by 0.2% but manufacturing, construction (which fell 2.3%) and agriculture all shrank. On the equity markets, supermarket Morrisons (-3.26%) fell after research firm Kantar showed that sales fell by 2.9% in the three months to 1 December. Fashion retailer Ted Baker (-13.41%) also tumbled after announcing the departure of both its chief executive and chairman, scrapping its dividend and issuing a profit warning in the process.
What's happening today?
Finals Autins Group Stagecoach Interims Dwf Group Kromek
AGMs Aberdeen Lat Amedeo Afp Axa Property Bowleven Europa Oil&gas Falcon Oil Minds+mach Westmount Engy. YouGov
Intl. Economic Announcements
(12:00) MBA Mortgage Applications (US) (13:30) Consumer Price Index (US) (15:30) Crude Oil Inventories (US)
Trading announcements Ted Baker
Did you know?
Until the nineteenth century, ketchup was often made from mushrooms, oysters or anchovies - but never tomatoes.
TODAY House of Commons The House will next sit on Monday 16 December 2019 House of Lords The House will next sit on Monday 16 December 2019 Scottish Parliament Portfolio questions - Justice and the law officers First minister’s questions
Scottish Parliament No meetings scheduled.