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Populism, popularity and pop

By Richard Pickering, Head of UK Research & Insight

Blue rinse  Round 1 of the UK’s voting for this year is complete, and if this any indication of where Round 2 will end up, then Theresa May will have had her request ‘to strengthen her hand’ delivered. The Conservatives are now in charge of 11 more Local Authorities, having gained 563 seats; whereas Corbyn will be feeling the pressure having lost 382. Of equal interest is that UKIP lost 145 Council seats, leaving them with just one – perhaps a victim of their own success. Whilst UKIP also only secured a single seat in the Commons in 2015, their share of vote was 12.7% – more than the SNP and Lib Dems combined. Hence, defecting UKIP voters may yet play a significant role in the General Election next month.

Peak populisme  As early as 2014, commentators were calling ‘peak beard’ – the maximum adoption of facial hair. However, trends have a habit of developing inertia and often die out less quickly than expected. And so, as an obstinately hirsute gentleman, I am naturally cynical of the current call of ‘peak populism’. Certainly Macron’s victory is an unsurprising one in a year of surprising votes (if electing France’s youngest ever President, backed by a one-year old political party could be described as such). Investors appear to agree, as French bond yields fell, as did others across Europe, anticipating reduced risk.  However, the causes of populism have not been addressed, and a third of French voters backed Le Pen. It’s early days for Macron, and he will soon find out the strength (or not) of the mandate that he has secured..

Working the plank  Barclays has opened Europe’s largest Fintech co-working venue in Shoreditch this week, ‘Rise London’, recognising the depth of local talent and the business advantage of co-locating with start-ups. The trend towards co-working is not new, but the business models which underpin more flexible styles of working are rapidly diversifying. An example of this is ‘Gangplank’, founded in Arizona. The facility doesn’t charge rents or licence fees, but instead expects those which use the space to commit ‘social capital’ in the form of contributions to shared projects and initiatives. Admittedly, Gangplank receives public and philanthropic funding, but would it stretch the imagination too far to operate this as a fully commercial model, where co-working also extends to co-ownership?

Times Rich List  The Sunday Times has released its annual list of the wealthiest people in the UK, providing the usual cocktail of envy and schadenfreude. However, this year it is accompanied by an economic analysis by CEBR. Perhaps the biggest surprise is the decline of inherited wealth and a corresponding growth of the (comparatively) nouveau riche (66% are new entries since the Millennium). The report challenges the notion that the list is impenetrable; however it reinforces that the wealthiest in society (from time-to-time) enjoy an elevated lead over those at the bottom. Property is still a favoured vehicle to retain generational wealth in the UK, with the Reuben brothers and the Duke of Westminster perhaps not coincidentally being the only British citizens in the Top 10 and the only ones to have made their wealth from property.

Double scotch  Together with their annual global price index, Deutsche Bank has also published a quality of life index, in which Edinburgh has placed second of all global cities. A table topping score for commuting time, and high placings for health care, pollution and property (resi) price to income measures secures the Scottish capital a rank 31 places above London. Meanwhile, dividing the C&W prime office rent by DB’s ‘Cheap Date’ index (a measure of the cost of an evening out) for that city reveals a second strong result for Edinburgh, which has a cheaper rent-per-date then London, Paris, Dublin, Frankfurt and Madrid.

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