A rollercoaster of a year - now get ready for the next one!
Welcome to 2019!
I hope you all had a great Christmas break and it has left you refreshed and looking forward to another year of hard work and, hopefully, reward in 2019.
It is certainly going to be a momentous year. I should point out now that publishing deadlines meant I wrote this just prior to Christmas, and I assume the Christmas break forced a pause in Brexit-related hostilities. So with that caveat made clear, I shall say simply that I hope this year goes smoother than the last month of 2018 went, as we prepare to exit the EU on March 29.
What landscape we’ll find post-March 29 is anyone’s guess. The business community’s plea for an orderly and settled transition appears to have fallen on deaf ears, but I am confident that whatever the landscape we find ourselves in, the business community will cope. It might be a bumpy ride – in fact, I’ll stick my neck out and say it will be a bumpy ride! – but I’m sure we’ll get through.
Whenever you write a column at this time of year you tend to think first of the year that has been and I was struck, looking back through events that took place in 2018, what a curate’s egg of a year it proved. A dreadful start, with Brexit uncertainty and the collapse of high street stalwarts such as Toys ‘R’ Us and Maplins, as well as facilities management and construction giant Carillion, was swiftly followed by the Beast from the East and all the weather related disruption that brought, before a double poisoning turned the city of
Salisbury into a major international media sensation and sowed the seeds for further tensions with Russia.
But by the time summer had come round the mood had changed. Glorious weather, a fabulous World Cup, royal weddings and babies and the Chequers declaration had people in a much more positive frame of mind. The economic signals looked good, the Chancellor said austerity was over and a deal with the EU seemed close.
And then the clocks went back… the nights turned darker and so did the mood. As storms lashed the UK, so the political deal unravelled and we were left with the chaos of the meaningful vote that never was, no-confidence in the PM and ministerial resignations galore. The word ‘chaos’ has never been more apt.
A rollercoaster of a year and worrying times but as I said earlier, there is a resilience about the British business community, and particularly that of the East Midlands. We have faced adversity before, we have survived recessions and coped with economic collapses; I am sure we will get through the uncertainty.
One interesting point as to how to read the runes around Brexit. As you will read elsewhere, the IoD director general, Stephen Martin, was guest speaker at the Lincolnshire branch’s pre-Christmas lunch, and I had a chance to gauge the way Brexit was viewed in London and in Europe when I caught up with him. His belief, having spoken to EU officials, was that many in Europe believed the UK had got a good deal from the negotiations.
If they think it’s good for us… and we think it’s good for them… surely it must be a decent half-way house compromise?
Just a thought. Whatever happens, the IoD will be ready to help when the dust settles and the UK knows what the landscape looks like. Remember, our regional office has a huge amount of experience to call on, and there are many within the IoD community who will be only too happy to help if your business hits a wall you can’t find a way past. If you have concerns or feel that we need to make a point to politicians on your behalf, we’re ready to help. I would also encourage you to sign up for the IoD’s Policy Voice. In short, it is a great way to contribute quickly and easily to IoD policy development and guides how Pall Mall and the regional offices respond on your behalf to political decisions.
One group of people who are ready to represent the IoD are our new Ambassadors, who offer sector and geographical expertise and leadership. They are a new development and alongside our Mastermind Groups are changing the membership offer for the better.
Finally, on the point of IoD support, this issue contains details of a number of events that we will be holding over the next 12 months. At a time of uncertainty, business leaders need to be able to call on their network and contacts more than ever, for support, advice or just to bounce an idea off.
Our events are ideal opportunities to do just that, as well as learn something new from our hosts or guest speakers.
To that end, therefore, why not make your New Year’s Resolution to be, getting more involved with the IoD?
Garry Smith, Regional Chairman