Read on the street 7 December 2019

"Everyone's a winner, baby"

Good morning,

So, what’s it going to be?  Are you saying yes to Brexit but no to the prospect of indyref2? Or perhaps it’s no to Brexit but bring on independence? Do you see climate change as an unprecedented global emergency or perhaps you’re more of a sceptic? Lucky you if you’ve found your political sweet spot and know who you’ll vote for. For me, this election feels like playing a particularly stubborn fruit machine which is refusing to spin a winning combination. With no political home offering me refuge, which of these monumental issues do I prioritise? I shall spend the weekend ruminating and, if I am none the wiser by Thursday, I shall simply choose the candidate with the prettiest logo. Perhaps it’s time to think beyond adversarial party politics and get our politicians creating collectives, sharing the pay-out of being in power and declaring themselves, and by extension ourselves, all winners.

I Quit Flying for Good. Here’s How It Changed My Life

Displaying the same level of linguistic precision that gave the world hygge(Danish for "the joy of cosiness") and kalsarikänni (Finnish for "the joy of drinking at home, alone, in your pants") the Swedes have coined flygskam, or "flight-shame". Whether you agree or disagree with flight shaming, the concept has inspired movements across the globe. Here, Vice speaks to five people who have given up flying as part of Flight Free UK. Read on Vice.

Is China going to destroy itself and everyone else with coal?

After years of investment in green energy, China is scaling back subsidies for solar panels and wind turbines. It is instead turning its attention back to coal. This pivot comes as the country's economy slows. However, if this process continues, it could negatively affect attempts to slow global carbon output with grim consequences for the world's climate. Read on The Week.

Climate crisis could reverse progress in achieving gender equality

For a phenomenon which impacts every corner of the globe, the consequences of climate breakdown are not, actually, universal. Global leaders assembled in Madrid for COP25 this week would be wise to take note. As this article tells us, solutions to productivity, gender equality and climate breakdown must be concerted if we are to make headway in the future, protecting our precious gains in gender equality in the process. Read on The Conversation.

“Simone de Beauvoir with data”

OK. We may be a bit late to the Criado-Perez fan party. But given that her book, Invisible Women, won this year’s FT/McKinsey Book of the Year on Thursday, we thought it was as good a time as any to give her a repost. Her thesis that “most of recorded history is one big data gap” for women rings, depressingly, just as true as ever when we also read this week of the gendered bias built into recruitment AI at Amazon. Read in the Financial Times.

Growing Up Poor: Britain’s Breadline Kids

“Children should be seen and not heard”.  An old truism gladly consigned to the rubbish heap following this week’s episode of Dispatches. There are over four million children living in poverty in the UK today, yet their lives and experiences are rarely visible, as their voices are silenced and their parents ostracised. Meanwhile, society continues to play the ‘blame game’.

Watch on Channel 4.

The pedants’ pedant: why the Apostrophe Protection Society has closed in disgust

As professionals who live and die by the placing of a comma or the capitalisation of a name, we are no strangers to punctuational pedantry. And so, alongside The Guardian this week, we mourn the death of good grammar in the modern age. We hope IT’S a clarion call that proves premature. Read in The Guardian.

Trump, Obama and their battle with the blob

What do Barack Obama and Donald Trump have in common? From their roles in withdrawing from the Middle East, pivoting towards Asia, handwringing over China and a loathing of the Washington foreign policy establishment, the answer is more than you might think. As the author of this FT article, Gideon Rachman, concludes: “In their very different ways, both Mr Obama and Mr Trump have reduced America’s global commitments – and adjusted the US to a more modest international role.” Read in the Financial Times.

Great Thinkers: John Kay FBA on GLS Shackle FBA

The Oxford economist, John Kay, has a new book coming out in spring 2020 which this podcast explores in conversation with the former governor of the Bank of England, Sir Mervyn King. Looking to the forgotten teachings of fellow economist GLS Shackle, Kay and King argue that before we start thinking up solutions to the radical uncertainty of our age, we need to stop thinking of risk as a log-book of probabilities. Strap in for an exciting ride into an issue we may never truly understand… Listen on John Kay’s personal website.

Turner Prize split four ways as nominees decide against a single winner A very welcome metaphor for the solution to the divided country we are currently wrestling with - compromise. This year’s Turner Prize was presented in Margate, Kent on Wednesday to four artists who pressed home that their work was “incompatible with the competition format, whose tendency is to divide and to individualise.” It is another reminder – as my colleague, Harriet Moll, suggested a few weeks ago – that we must listen to our artists and creatives for their “indefatigable ability to react, create and recreate in the face of seemingly impenetrable obstacles”. As we all eye our election choices this Thursday, we could do worse than be guided by their example. Read on BBC News.


Written by Sarah Buchanan-Smith, Consulting Partner