Don’t Ask Me What I Think of EU

One of the funniest comments I heard about Brexit this morning, as we awoke to its being a reality, was in response to the question of how Brussels will react. The answer was given “they will be completely shocked”. If it is true, it tells us all we need to know. There was a referendum in the UK yesterday; it was always going to be close. This is not a shocking result, and anyone who is shocked by the outcome must surely be open to accusations of some degree of arrogance.

Politicians will disagree about the political, and economists will disagree about the economic effects.  In my previous blogs I have been clear that I do not believe we can predict what will happen in this Brexit scenario, so speculation is as good as we can get. A look back at history does tell us that humans, economies and people generally are far more resilient than we fear and no doubt we will be living in very interesting times. We should be more than cautious as pundits supply endless opinions on how Brexit will impact on business.

But what of your business and what can we learn?

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Euro-nausea and how to survive the white noise

After my last post on the matter, I had intended to let it rest.  There is now so much being said about the Leave/Remain debate that we start to hope for different news.  Then we get different news, and it’s so awful that we would rather focus on Europe.  Maybe there is a lesson on being careful what you wish for.  Maybe that lesson will have some impact on the way we vote.

Despite the volume of words, very little is actually being said.  Each side speculates on the financial effect of a Brexit from opposing perspectives; but no-one knows.  Each side speculates on immigration, defence, security, you name it; but no-one knows.  Each side throws ever more unpleasant (if often truthful) barrages at each other.  The polls are currently weighted toward a Brexit.  The bookies still marginally favour Remain.

I continue to wonder where to put my “X”.  If you do too, you may find some help in EU Referendum FAQ’s produced by the UK200 Group, of which Hillier Hopkins LLP is a member.  The UK200 Group has produced this document under its Campaign for Clarity project.  The Times is trying to do something even more sophisticated.  Laudable as all this is, I am not sure that anything is clearer.

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Someone Sent a Promised Land

In the press this week, was a report that the DVLA thinks that they have lost £200m in road tax revenues since introducing the new disc-free tax system.  It caught my eye because, about a year ago, the Chancellor announced how they will now do away with paper tax returns and replace them with an online tax account.  Many of us wondered at the time how the IT would work.

In the 1970’s (I know I don’t look old enough) I recall how we all thought computers would do away with almost all mundane work, and we would live lives of leisure, and only do the work that humans must do.  It was a Promised Land, delivered by second class post via Royal Mail (like most government mail), it seems.  Is Government trapped in a 1970’s time bubble, desperately doomed to failure, yet hoping to save costs by computerising our lives?  Or does government have a long term strategy?

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Nothing to Hide, Anything to Fear?

Alcatraz.jpg

We often hear, “if you have nothing to hide, you have nothing to fear”?  Were it true, we would not object to the idea that some gentleman from the secret service might listen as we whisper sweet nothings, joke with close friends in a politically incorrect manner, or discuss a private business deal?

Privacy and secrecy are very much a part of business. Confidentiality is fundamental in professional life. Businesses work hard to create contact lists, customer lists, know-how and techniques, and guards them jealously.  Sometimes a non-disclosure agreement is needed to enter into any discussions with companies.  So let us not pretend that transparency in business is widely accepted as beneficial.  It has long been established that there is a need for a balance between the right to privacy, and the public’s right to protection.

But on which side of this balance do the new People of Significant Control Regulations sit?

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