Struggling with the new reality

almond-blossom-5378_1920 I admit I have been having trouble holding it together post the EU referendum result.

To sit by and have to watch the effects predicted take place is very hard for many. The Leave camp responded to presented facts, by persuading people they were lies, to not believe experts and that we are Great Britain, be optimistic it will work out.

However now they are happening, it is being reported as fact, the mistruth is clear, yet the damage is done. It is upsetting.

  • It is upsetting to watch the pound fall, markets drop, summer holiday prices and eventually food go up. This is now being talked about as fact. Where was all this reporting 1 week ago?
  • It is upsetting to have to read openly racist, bigotted and xenophobic comments being posted online. It insults educated and respectable figures (not to mention making my blood boil).
  • It is upsetting to find out that a significant majority of those under 45, those that are the future of the country voted Remain, is heartbreaking. The young, the middle aged and the EU citizens who could not vote, are paying the pensions of the older group. Those that voted Leave have denied their children and grand children many of the very opportunities they had, a (somewhat selfish) slap in the face.
  • It is upsetting to hear the leave campaign now admit some of their claims were false. Some clearly believed this stuff and yet now it is said untrue.
  • It is upsetting to hear talk of Scottish independence the very next day. Hardly surprising for those in Scotland, however stunning that the leave group are surprised this would occur and the possibility of a UK breakup.
  • It is upsetting to observe the panic and now subdued nature of the leave campaign. They clearly did not expect to win. The reality, there was no plan it appears, and now they need to solve for the mess they have created.
  • It is upsetting to hear EU officials talk of hardline negotiations and limited concessions. The arrogance of some vs our true place in the world is becoming clear. Our bargaining power is now limited.
  • It is upsetting to hear of EU nationals, who have been here for many years, paying UK taxes and being pro-UK now not feeling welcome in the country, being in tears as they drop their kids off at school and worrying about the uncertain prospects for their future.

And lastly

  • It is very upsetting to hear about Leave voters, being surprised and concerned on the result. Saying ‘we never expected to win’, ‘it was a protest vote’, or ‘I didn’t expect this to happen’. This was not the vote to ‘send a message’, it was the real deal.

I will calm down, and probably need to stop posting, however I do not want to return to the pre-EU world of the 1970’s. Something needs to be done to fix this.

What the EU has actually done for us?

As the whispers of Brexit turn into a very possible reality, I can’t help but think of the classic Monty Python sketch in Life of Brian.“What have the Romans ever done for us?” John Cleese asks, trying to inspire a revolution. “Er, Sanitation, aqueducts, roads, public health, medicine…” is the reply.The same thing is happening with the EU. Eurosceptics are shouting blindly about revolution, and forgetting to celebrate what Europe has done for us.The EU has its problems. It is dense, unaccountable, and thick with red tape. But, with Cameron failing to negotiate a better deal, we’re at real risk of losing the things we take for granted.

Source: What Has The EU Ever Done For Us?

After the vote

europe-1456245_1920Tomorrow in the United Kingdom the population is heading to the polls to vote to decide on continued membership of the European Union.

Whilst I have hesitated to mention politics on Linkedin (I have previously expressed my views here, with more articles here and a video here), this is a momentous vote. Whatever the outcome it will undoubtedly have long reaching, long lasting effects on the economic and business environment for years to come.

The Great Debate

Watching the debate on the BBC last night, the tone of the recent campaign messages was particularly concerning. Flag waving, naked nationalism, rubbishing expert/scientific advice and a Pollyanna outlook were all on display, as were the divisions that have opened up in British society.

Throughout this, the media have been at pains to appear to show an unbiased view. Every argument has had to have a response from the other side. This is even if there were no facts and just a ‘the others are talking rubbish’ or ‘don’t worry it will be fine’.

They have appeared to relish in observing the fight, stoking the arguments and fanning the flames of discontent.

A step back for diversity?

Unfortunately this has had the unfortunate effect of surfacing some very unsavoury, xenophobic views.

And, these views have been provided a voice and disproportionate airtime. With this airtime having a legitimising effect, normalising what would have previously be seen as unacceptable.

Diversity, it seems, may have just taken a big step backwards.

It may run deep and could have long consequences, beyond just the vote tomorrow.

After the vote: some concerns

If the Remain group win, we should expect groups holding these views to be vocally upset; they have just been emboldened. Further violent outbursts may indeed follow.

If the Leave group win, the group will be further encouraged, they will be in power and writing the laws. The views could easily get more extreme and easily written into legislation (especially if there is an economic collapse, with a search to find someone to blame).

British society has been built on diverse, tolerant, understated and pragmatic principles. It is something I am proud to be part of.

However a vote to Leave and the associated lurch to the right is not. I believe it will be bad for business, our daily working environment and the strength we gain from diversity in the workplace.

Typically British

In typical British fashion, many do not want to say anything or rock the boat. It is important however, in my personal view, to make your voice heard and vote for the tolerant, kinder society being presented by remaining in the EU.

I am still Remain.

(I also remain extremely concerned about the economic fallout: the financial markets are swift, unsentimental and hard nosed, we should expect the pound to drop and consumer prices increase on a leave result, but that is another topic…)

If it ain’t broke, don’t Brexit | The Economist

Tilting at geographyIn other words, the push for Brexit is quixotic. However close the cultural affinities between Britain and its partners in the Anglosphere, the contribution of their trade to British output is much smaller than the EU’s, as are the contributions of the world’s big emerging economies. A Brexit would not delink Britain’s economy from the rest of Europe; it would merely worsen the terms on which trade is conducted and reduce Britain’s influence in European affairs. History suggests that the choice to leave the EU would probably not prove a calamitous one in economic terms. That does not mean it would be astute.

Source: If it ain’t broke, don’t Brexit | The Economist

Anthony Hilton: Stay or go – the lack of solid facts means it’s all a leap of faith | Comment | London Evening Standard

I once asked Rupert Murdoch why he was so opposed to the European Union. “That’s easy,” he replied. “When I go into Downing Street they do what I say; when I go to Brussels they take no notice.”That was some years ago but things have not changed that much. Size matters. Individual countries buckle but the EU is big enough to resist. British politicians have to fawn to foreign businessmen so they will invest here. The much-maligned bureaucrats in Brussels can afford to be much tougher — as Honeywell, Microsoft and Murdoch have found in the past and as Google is finding now. That, indeed, is one of the few real certainties in an EU debate which is largely fact-free.

Source: Anthony Hilton: Stay or go – the lack of solid facts means it’s all a leap of faith | Comment | London Evening Standard

EU referendum: pound falls to new low as market jitters rise | UK | News | London Evening Standard

The pound fell to an eight-week low against the dollar today as market jitters increased about the result of next week’s EU referendum.With sterling in the crosshairs, the cost of insuring against future volatility against the euro spiked to the highest level since the financial crash of 2008.“We expect incoming polls to move the pound more aggressively than before,” said Charalambos Pissouros, senior analyst at IronFX Global. The markets’ reaction followed two weekend polls showing the Leave campaign ahead, one claiming a 10-point margin.

Source: EU referendum: pound falls to new low as market jitters rise | UK | News | London Evening Standard

• Chart: How Do Europeans Feel About The EU And A Potential Brexit? | Statista

In two weeks, people across the United Kingdom will go to the polls to vote on whether to remain part of the European Union. A new analysis conducted by the Pew Research Centre has found that the British aren’t the only ones with doubts about the institution. It found that Euroscepticism is on the rise with 47 percent of Europeans holding an unfavourable view of the EU.

Source: • Chart: How Do Europeans Feel About The EU And A Potential Brexit? | Statista

Infographic: How Do Europeans Feel About The EU And A Potential Brexit?  | Statista
You will find more statistics at Statista

The EU Referendum – What would Maggie do? | Roslyn Deans | LinkedIn

Finance Director then added that he had been discussing recently what Margaret Thatcher would be saying if she were alive today. “As a group of people who had worked with her directly, she would want to be ‘In’. Her heart would be out and her brain would be in. She was very keen to engage with countries around Europe such as Poland and I think she would have concluded that she would need to be in to keep a handle on Brussels and maintain influence”.

Source: The EU Referendum – What would Maggie do? | Roslyn Deans | LinkedIn

The UK – EU referendum: An analogy

landscape-644323_1920I don’t normally stray into politics, however there is an excellent article by Alicia Ngomo on FinExtra, who relates some of what she has been hearing regarding the EU referendum.

I have been hearing something similar and agree it is concerning.

It appears decisions being made based on impressions, not facts, with real experts not being listened too and armchair experts given equal airtime. No wonder people are confused.

This is an important decision and important we all listen. Expert opinions matter and we need to fully understand the potential consequence of such a decision. I feel this not the case at the moment.

The story below explains why…

    One morning you are on an airplane. Onboard is an experienced crew. They are all highly trained, have been doing this for years and it is relatively routine.

    Then mid flight some passengers decide they don’t like how the plane is being flown. They are frustrated about being told what to do; when to put away their bags, fasten their seat belts, even when they can go to the toilet….. the route being flown is just too slow.

    They feel there a better way, less rules, less regulations, quicker and at a lower altitude. It should be warmer and everyone agrees they like being warmer.

    The pilots quickly advise there is a reason for the rules and there is bad weather using the alternative route. At a lower altitude their is also the danger of mountains.

    However there is disagreement and a large number of passengers, led by a couple that have had experience flying kites, demand a vote. “We could even open the windows and doors if we fly lower” they explain… cheers erupt.

    So a vote is held. It is a binding decision.

    Strangely some of the passengers don’t seem to be bothered by this. “It’s okay” they say, “the drinks trolley came before, it will come again and I will have another glass of wine, who cares…”

    The rest of the passengers, together with the entire cabin crew, go white with fear. “This is crazy” they explain, “I have flown for years, it is not a good idea”.

    The vote goes through and a majority, 45%, vote for the change. So the autopilot is set, the plane turns, sets a new route and descends into the cloud.

    The storm is quite unlike anything any the passengers have felt before. This is the reason storms are normally best avoided, they now realise… together with the importance of wearing your seatbelt.

    By now, the passengers are now all screaming “change direction”, but it is now too late to return to the old route.

    Despite the heroic efforts of the crew, the plane is now too low….. it is unfortunately not what anyone really wanted that morning.

The moral of the story: Sometimes it is worth listening to trained experts, facts, and fully understand consequences of a decision. Yes there may be niggling annoyances, but it is often less risky to stay the course and make smaller changes more gradually.

9/10 experts say we should remain in the EU.

[Disclosure: For me, the consequences of leaving outweigh any benefits and we should definitely stay in].

Regression to the Mean

He illustrated the misconception by a simple exercise you may want to try yourself. He drew a circle on a blackboard and then asked the officers one by one to throw a piece of chalk at the center of the circle with their backs facing the blackboard. He then repeated the experiment and recorded each officer’s performance in the first and second trial. Naturally, those that did incredibly well in the first try tended to do worse in their second try and vice versa. The fallacy immediately became clear: the ch

Source: Regression to the Mean

How They Found the World’s Biggest Prime Number | Mental Floss UK

Recently, Dr. Curtis Cooper (well, his computer) discovered the largest prime number known to humanity. It’s more than 22 million digits long, so folks just call it “M74207281″ for short.Okay, so how did Cooper do it? And why? In the video below, mathematician (and standup comedian) Matt Parker digs in. He shows how you can test the primality of a given number, plus various shortcuts that allow computers to work on absurdly large numbers like M74207281.

Source: How They Found the World’s Biggest Prime Number | Mental Floss UK

Banks, a different approach by country | Chris-Warburton.com

Last week I noticed my local HSBC branch had posted a notice to explain is was closing and relocating all customers to another branch 12 miles away.They are not the last branch in town, however it is, no doubt, disappointing nevertheless for the local businesses and customers.Whilst I understand the economics behind of the decision, and have previously written about the changes underway the banking industry, what really stuck me was a difference between the UK and Canadian market.

Source: Banks, a different approach by country | Chris-Warburton.com