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Friday's Business and Politics round-up

21 Apr 2017
Business person stood up, reading a newspaper

IoD in the news

City AM - Business groups push back on net migration target

Good morning,

Coverage of the first full day of campaigning for the upcoming general election was overshadowed yesterday by news of a fresh terrorist attack on the streets of Paris. The incident - in which one policeman was killed and two more were injured - comes just three days ahead of the first round of voting at the French Presidential election.

If you can't join them, beat them

This seems to be the message emanating from the Corbyn camp at the moment. After almost three grinding years spent burnishing his credentials as an establishmentarian (of a sort), Jeremy Corbyn has decided to revert to the tried and tested strategy of embracing his anti-establishment roots. After all, these were the roots by which he was plucked from political obscurity and planted firmly at the top of the Labour Party. Why should they not serve him well a second time?

The Labour leader spent yesterday making his first major pitch of the election campaign as he told a crowd in London that the result is ‘not a foregone conclusion’. Moreover, he used his speech to set out the tone of his party’s campaign over the next few weeks, saying that voters will decide on 8th June between a party for the people and a party for the establishment. Mr Corbyn also told supporters they should be voting to ‘end this racket’ and ‘overturn a rigged system’.

It is a message that has previously gone down well with the Labour leader’s core vote, and he will be hoping that it now chimes with many of those who saw last summer’s referendum as a way to voice wider discontent about social change and establishment politics. However, the big question for Mr Corbyn will be whether this demographic is large (or interested) enough to cause an upset in 7 weeks’ time. For now, the odds seem firmly stacked against him.

A nation of buy-with-1-clickers

British consumers have long been some of the most digitally active in the world. In fact, over the past decade or so, the UK has had a higher percentage of internet users than any other country in the G7. A new report - released this morning by the UK cards association -builds on this trend, saying that consumers here now spend more online than their counterparts anywhere in the world.

The average UK household spent the equivalent of $5,900 online in 2015, a figure significantly higher than Norway ($5,400) and the US ($4,500).  In 2016, the report says, up to £154bn was spent with cards on the internet in the UK. Richard Koch, Head of Policy at the UK Cards association suggested that the strength of online shopping may come down to a mixture of convenience (never needing to leave home) and the added protections that people feel come with using credit or debit cards.

While this trend does mean that Brits are increasingly looking for new ways to engage with retailers - which is positive - it has had also heaped pressure on a number of household names on the High St over the past few years. Only this week, Debenhams announced it would be closing a number of stores across the country, in part because of increasing ‘mobile interaction’. Another High St staple, BHS, also folded last year as it struggled to adapt to changing consumer behaviour and intense competition.

With the trend towards one-click-purchasing still very much on the up, the pressure on retailers to remain ahead of the pack shows no sign of abating.

In other election news

While out on campaign duty in London yesterday, the Prime Minister re-stated her ambition to bring net migration down to the tens of thousands. The confirmation followed speculation that the Tories might look to scale back on their long-held commitment to reducing migrant numbers after comments from Karen Bradley, the Culture Secretary, who said it was ‘not about the numbers’. Mrs May’s confirmation is in line with the message coming out of Conservative HQ that ending freedom of movement remains a top pillar in the Government’s Brexit plan.

Nigel Farage also briefly made the news yesterday when he doused speculation about a possible run in Clacton. Rumours that he was set for another crack at the Westminster whip arose after Douglas Carswell (former UKIP MP turned Farage-nemesis) said he would not be standing for re-election in the Essex seat. Announcing his decision in a blog post, Mr Carswell said ‘I intend to vote Conservative ‪on 8 June and will be offering my full support to whoever the Clacton constituency Conservatives select as their candidate.’

Finally, the Liberal Democrat campaign has got off to a roaring financial start, with the party raising £500,000 from supporters in just two days. The figure is over double that raised by the Labour Party, which has managed a respectable £200,000. The Tories are expected to maintain their traditional dominance in the political donation space, though. They raised £3.61m in the fourth quarter of 2016, and will be likely dipping into their little book of large donors in the weeks to come. 

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