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Losers and winners, loops and Lords

By Richard Pickering, Head of Futures Strategy

Losers  Another quiet week in UK politics. Unexpected results are now par for the course, such that they aren’t so unexpected anymore. However, when things don’t go as planned, there are inevitably winners and losers, blame and hubris. It’s a tie for who the biggest loser is. Theresa May (13 seats lost), who made this campaign about herself must surely shoulder the blame and her future as PM looks uncertain. The darling of the 2015 elections, Nicola Sturgeon, is also licking her wounds (21 seats lost), including that of Alex Salmond. UKIP has largely been erased, and mixed fortunes for the Lib Dems saw Nick Clegg lose his seat. Perhaps the biggest loser in all of this is the UK public, who now likely face months of uncertainty, a slowdown in investment and the prospect of returning to the polls later this year to an equally uncertain outcome.

Transparency and innovation  London leads the world on cultural experience, states a report this week by AT Kearney; but loses out to New York overall as the leading global city. However, for future outlook (measured on the factors of well-being, economics, innovation and governance) the list looks quite different from the current index. The outlook is topped by San Fransisco (currently 23rd), with other improving global cities including Boston (outlook #5, current #21), Melbourne (outlook #6, current #15) and Munich (outlook #7, current #36). Meanwhile, Tokyo, Hong Kong and LA are big fallers.  San Fransisco’s performance is largely driven by its capacity for innovation. Whereas London scores well for governance and particularly transparency, the challenge going forwards is perhaps how we foster innovation, invention and scientific development.

The emotion of shopping  A report in the Economist this week describes how a French bookstore chain has been analysing in-store CCTV to interpret shoppers’ emotions. By responding to this analysis, sales reportedly rose by 10%. Beyond CCTV, thermal imaging can establish heart rates and data from smartphone accelerometers can detect interest and engagement. This is perhaps the future of the store, as higher percentages of spend move online. Whereas online clicks can provide rich customer data, detecting the nuanced emotional response of customers is still something that needs physical interaction. With numerous studies showing that it is emotions such as fear and pride that drive purchasing intention, an environment that allows the retailer to detect and manipulate these emotions could be a powerful part of its arsenal.

The Lords  Tired of the same old rhetoric from both sides of the political divide, the UK public has been calling for a new breed of politician, and potentially this call has been answered. In her own seat, Theresa May fought off fierce competition from two such candidates. Firstly Lord Buckethead, an independent candidate (whose description needs no explanation) who campaigned for ‘The abolition of the Lords (except me)’, the ‘Nationalisation of Adele’ and ‘A moratorium until 2022 on whether Birmingham should be converted into a star base’. He was joined by Howling Laud Hope, apprentice of Screaming Lord Such, whose ‘Manicfesto’ required all schools to have jumble sales twice monthly. Meanwhile in Cumbria, Tim Farron shared a podium with Mr Fish Finger (his actual name), whose ‘Manifishto’ promised ‘to hake Britain great again’ by requiring of prospective MPs that ‘All codidates should pass a swimming test, and – once elected – must wear kipper ties and cod pieces for offishal duties’. And who said there wasn’t a plaice for choice in this election?

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