Normal isn't good enough

Written by Adam Shaw, Associate Partner

Edited by Harriet Moll, Creative Director

Good morning,

“The new normal” is one of those phrases that has been overused recently, as people get used to our current situation and social distancing. Indeed, the phrase has become such a cliché that it’s been banned amongst the Charlotte Street Partners team (sorry, guys – last time, I promise).

Prior to that, “this is not normal,” was used for several years, in the first instance by Matt Chorley, editor of The Times Red Box, to describe the various problems and unconventional politics rooted in Brexit.

Which leads to the question, what is, or will be, normal?

Seeking normality is a standard human trait. We tend to find comfort in routine and what we know, which usually means looking backwards.

However, getting back to ‘normal’ as we knew it, isn’t a good enough response for the major issues of the day.

It’s not good enough for the economic recovery as we emerge from Covid-19, which has exposed the huge health and economic inequalities in our society. Especially if we want to halt climate change and protect the natural world for future generations.

It’s not good enough for racial equality. The tragic death of George Floyd was simply the tipping point for widespread protests, but the discrimination it highlighted has been an issue for centuries in the US and the UK.

And, it’s not good enough for our politics. Constitutional division – at both a Scottish and UK level – prevents us from viewing things objectively and addressing longstanding societal issues, such as poverty, the need for a long-term funding solution for social care, and building enough homes.

I don’t have the answers. However, I do know that normal as we knew it isn’t one of them.


The UK will make “one of the biggest changes in our visa system in history” by offering millions of people in Hong Kong a “route to citizenship”, if China imposes its new security law, Boris Johnson has said. Writing inThe Times, the prime minister commits the government to allowing any holder of a British National (Overseas) passport from Hong Kong to come to the UK for a renewable period of 12 months, to provide an alternative to Chinese repression. About 350,000 of the territory’s people hold these passports and another 2.5 million would be eligible to apply. (£)

A report from Public Health England has found that ethnic minorities are at higher risk of dying from Covid-19, however, it is not clear why. People of Chinese, Indian, Pakistani, other Asian, Caribbean and other black ethnicity have between a 10% and 50% higher risk of death when compared to white British people. The health secretary, Matt Hancock, said "much more work" needed to be done to understand "what's driving these disparities".

Tim Walz, the governor of Minnesota, has announced that the state's department of human rights is launching an investigation into the Minneapolis Police Department. The announcement follows the death of George Floyd, however, the investigation will review the department's practices over the past 10 years “to determine if the department has utilized systemic discriminatory practices towards people of colour”.

Keir Starmer has accused Boris Johnson of causing a collapse in public confidence over the government’s handling of the Covid-19 crisis. In an interview withThe Guardian, the Labour leader said the prime minister is “winging it” and suggested Downing Street relaxed lockdown measures to “to try to deflect attention away” from the Dominic Cummings affair. Starmer called on Johnson “to get a grip” of the crisis.

Business and economy

Nissan has warned that the future of its car manufacturing plant in Sunderland will be “unsustainable” if the UK leaves the European Union without a trade deal. Speaking to theBBC, Nissan’s chief operating officer, Ashwani Gupta, said the company’s commitments could not be maintained if there was not tariff-free EU access. The plant employs 7,000 people and is the largest in the UK.

Sky News reports that Travelodge will launch a formal restructuring plan today in a bid to save 10,000 jobs. The budget hotel group’s proposed company voluntary arrangement (CVA) – put together by Deloitte – will see shareholders inject £40m of new equity, the company borrow £100m, and landlords asked to agree to steep, but temporary, rent reductions.

Retail prices last month suffered their biggest monthly drop since 2006, according to the latest figures from the British Retail Consortium. Clothing and furniture retailers were among those discounting heavily in an effort to attract shoppers and survive the coronavirus crisis. The pandemic forced non-essential shops to close in March, although many have been able to operate online.

Columns of note

Writing inThe Guardian, Hannah White criticises the government for pushing to abolish virtual voting in parliament. She highlights the stark choice faced by MPs in higher risk groups, that have family members who are shielding, or have to risk travelling between London and remote communities. White argues that rather than protecting democracy, as Jacob Rees-Mogg argues, the move will be bad for scrutiny and demonstrates the government’s “narrow and expedient view of the role of parliament”.

In theFinancial Times, various high-profile economists offer competing views of the economic outlook as we emerge from the Covid-19 crisis. A V-shaped recovery, fragmentation, stagnation and increasing inequality, and the biggest peacetime recession in 100 years are all put forward as the most likely outcome. (£)

Source: The Telegraph


What happened yesterday?

Global stocks performed strongly yesterday – climbing to their highest levels in three months – as optimism about a rapid economic recovery from the Covid-19 crisis and better than expected manufacturing data from China outweighed US-Sino tensions and continuing protests in many US cities.

All major indices saw gains. In the US, the S&P 500 rose 0.21% to 3,062.08, the Dow Jones Industrial Average gained 0.47% to 25,594.55, and the Nasdaq was up 0.07% to 9,558.76.

In London, the FTSE 100 was up 0.87% to 6,220.14 and the FTSE 250 climbed 0.92% to 17,436.31.

Suppliers to the aerospace industry performed well after Boeing reported that it resumed production of the 737 MAX. Meggitt rose 9.3%, Rolls Royce was up 4.85% and Melrose Industries added 7.87%.

Easyjet and IAG also made gains, rising 2.63% and 3.55% respectively.

Tesco fell 1.32% after chief financial officer Alan Stewart announced that he will retire next year.

Meanwhile, cruise operator Carnival, owner of P&O, ended the day down 1.01% after it said that it had scrapped all sailings until 15 October.

On the currency markets, the pound rose 0.01% against the euro to €1.1219 and was up 0.33% against the dollar at $1.2533.

What's happening today?

Finals Angling Direct, Asa Int, Instem Plc Interims Ssp Grp AGMs Albion Tech Vct, Aston Martin, Dp Eurasia, Everyman Media, Frenkel Top, Gamesys Group, Gem Diamonds Di, Hurricane Energy, Jersey Oil & Gas, Venture Life UK Economic Announcements (00:01) BRC Shop Price Index (09:30) PMI Services

International Economic Announcements

(08:55) Unemployment Rate (GER)

(08:55) PMI Services (GER)

(08:56) PMI Composite (GER)

(09:00) PMI Composite (EU)

(09:00) PMI Services (EU)

(10:00) Unemployment Rate (EU)

(10:00) Producer Price Index (EU)

(12:00) MBA Mortgage Applications (US)

(14:45) PMI Services (US)

(14:45) PMI Composite (US)

(15:00) ISM Non-Manufacturing (US)

(15:00) Factory Orders (US)

(15:30) Crude Oil Inventories

Source: Financial Times

Did you know?

The roar of fans at a college football match between Louisiana State University and Auburn in 1988 was so loud that it registered as an earthquake on the LSU campus seismograph.

Parliamentary highlights

House of Commons

Oral Questions: Wales

Prime Minister’s Question Time

Motion: Business of the House – Mr Jacob Rees-Mogg

Legislation: Corporate Insolvency and Governance Bill – all stages

House of Lords

Oral Questions

Operation of local democracy in the UK during the COVID-19 pandemic - virtual proceeding - Baroness Bennett of Manor Castle

When the government will announce the chair, timings, and terms of reference of the Royal Commission on criminal justice - virtual proceeding - Lord Ramsbotham

Government progress reaching a reciprocal agreement with the EU to enable British musicians to tour in Europe following the transition period - virtual proceeding - The Earl of Clancarty

Keeping schools open during July and August to ensure students are not disadvantaged by the school closures put in place to address the COVID-19 pandemic - virtual proceeding - Lord Blencathra

Legislation: Private International Law (Implementation of Agreements) Bill [HL] - Committee stage (day 2) - virtual proceedings - Lord Keen of Elie

Statement: Covid-19 response – Lord Bethell

Scottish Parliament

First Minister’s Questions

Ministerial Statement: Brexit

Stage 3 Proceedings: Scottish Elections (Reform) Bill