What does the UK’s election turmoil mean for the Sovereign Professional?

What does the UK’s post-election turmoil mean for the sovereign professional? Here are a few thoughts.

Greater and prolonged uncertainty

Uncertainty is never a good thing for business. For the sovereign professional, it will likely mean clients with tighter budgets and slower buying cycles. The risk is an increase in your days un-billed.

A more business-friendly government?

With various media reports suggesting the Chancellor Philip Hammond now exerting greater influence, we may see more attention paid to the impact upon, and the needs of, business … which, after all employs people, sells goods and generates one way or another almost all the tax paid to government.

We should also anticipate an end to those nauseating “citizens of nowhere” speeches.

In fact, today’s Times anticipates a much more pro-business Mansion House speech, this evening:

In his annual address to City leaders at Mansion House today, Mr Hammond will say: “Investors need certainty in order to continue to support the UK economy and create jobs as we leave the EU.

“That is why we will fortify the vital financial support that helps businesses to grow — from cutting-edge start-ups right through to large-scale infrastructure projects.”

A softer Brexit?

Democracy is a blunt instrument. There is plenty of speculation that the election result was a vote for turning away from the stated path of Hard Brexit. That’s not at all clear, however.

Was the unexpected surge in Labour’s vote really a vote against Hard Brexit? Both Labour and the Conservative party had stated goals of leaving both the European Union and the Single Market. The Single Market is generally held as a border between hard and soft. By contrast, the only party that actively promoted a different, softer approach – the Lib Dems – failed to recover from the distinct kicking they got in 2015. Leader Tim Farron announced his resignation last night.

Was the Youth Vote for Labour a vote for Soft Brexit? Or, more likely, was it a positive response to the party’s promised bribes of cancelling university fees?

Interestingly, the BBC reports that while there was a marked increase in graduates voting for Labour, there was also an increase in less-well-educated voters (those with only a GCSE exams, generally taken at 16) voting Conservative, and against Labour’s tradition of supporting the working class.  Was this the post-UKIP vote calling for a hard line on immigration and, therefore, for a Hard Brexit?

I can’t see any clear sign in all of this that there was any true call for a softer approach. Daniel Finkelstein outlines the challenge is his column in yesterday’s Times:

Extraordinarily we have produced a parliament that, when it comes to the terms on which we leave the EU, has no majority for anything. Or for its opposite. The moment you depart from those vague and useless terms “hard Brexit” (boo) and “soft Brexit” (hooray), you are left with nothing.

I doubt there is a majority for staying in the single market, or for departing. And you might think that logic dictates that there literally had to be a majority for one of the three options of leaving without a deal, approving a deal or not leaving at all, but no. I really don’t believe that there is.

It is, however, fairly certain that MPs themselves, the overwhelming majority of whom supported remaining in the EU, would favour a softer approach that kept the country’s access to valuable markets and skills. We desperately need more not less immigration. Our high tech businesses need talent and our greying population needs healthcare workers. Our farmers need fruit pickers and, vitally, our coffee shops need baristas.


But opportunity, too

Turmoil and uncertainty breed innovation and opportunity. If your business is supplying short-term, B2B services (as an interim manager perhaps, or a consultant) then you can offer an on-demand service free from long-term commitment. You can help clients deliver on their existing strategy, while they consider how to respond to a changing environment. Or, you can offer fresh, objective, real-world experience to help shape their thinking.

Stress and uncertainty, but opportunity too. Carpe Diem.

Image credit: https://unsplash.com/@dvancea

Freelance workforce predicted to rise to 43% by 2020 – @Due #freelancing

Here’s a great overview of the Gig Economy, from Due.com. It’s US-centric, but the findings are transferable. UK readers will just need to translate the tax and pension information.

Many Americans are saying goodbye to the traditional 9-5 lifestyle in favor of a much more flexible schedule that works around what they need. In 2016, nearly 53 million Americans were freelancers, that’s 34% of the workforce!

Much of the recent press in the UK has centred on the negative aspects, particularly of large “employers” possibly bending the rules to define workers as self-employed to reduce the employers’ cost base.

We shouldn’t ignore the very real benefits that the growth of freelancing brings for willing workers and for the economy as a whole.

Well worth a read.

Image credit: https://unsplash.com/@alejandroescamilla

20 classic poems: Opportunity – @artofmanliness

The Art of Manliness blog has a list of “20 classic poems every man should read“.

Some are familiar, although I’m embarrassed to have read so few.

However, the following seemed particularly apt for the Sovereign Professional:

Master of human destinies am I;
Fame, love and fortune on my footsteps wait.
Cities and fields I walk. I penetrate
Deserts and seas remote, and, passing by
Hovel and mart and palace, soon or late,
I knock unbidden once at every gate.

If sleeping, wake; if feasting, rise, before
I turn away. It is the hour of fate,
And they who follow me reach every state
Mortals desire, and conquer every foe
Save death; but those who hesitate
Condemned to failure, penury and woe,
Seek me in vain, and uselessly implore.
I answer not, and I return no more.

John James Ingalls (1833 – 1900), Opportunity

Now,there’s a lesson to remember.

Songs for Sovereign Professionals: Hello, Hooray @RealAliceCooper

The sovereign professional walks a solitary path. Sometimes you need a lift, something big and empowering and energising.

This has been the opening song on my daily soundtrack for the last few months.

“God, I feel so strong!”

The following comes from a TV show and looks fairly contemporaneous with the original release…

And, if you have Alice Cooper‘s Billion Dollar Babies album, check out Generation Landslide and Elected.

Cooper, always much more than a shock-pop-rocker, has written some great songs over the years, but he didn’t write this. Hello, Hooray was written by Canadian songwriter Rolf Kempf.

Over on Steve Hoffman Music Forums, I learnt that the song was originally recorded by Judy Collins. Hoffman’s post includes both versions along with a 1990s recording by Kempf himself. I have to say that Collins’ version doesn’t really work for me – but then I’ve grown up with the Alice recording.

Kempf tells the story of the song on his blog, here.

Let the show begin, I’ve been ready.

Image credit: alicecooper.com

Ship your work – @thisisseth #Writing

Seth Godin has a useful reminder; What 99% looks like.

In just about everything we do, 99% approval is astonishing.

Except online.

Because online, our lizard brain goes straight to the tiny speck, the little number that’s easy to magnify.

Ignore it. Shun the non-believers and ship your work.

Too easily forgotten.

Image credit: https://unsplash.com/@pondy

The Election’s distasteful, drawbridge choices

With only a week to go until the UK election, there’s little to delight the Sovereign Professional.

When she was Home Secretary, Theresa May always struck me as worryingly illiberal. Yet, in the turmoil of the post-Brexit leadership contest, she stood out (largely by not falling over) as the only adult in the room. Intellects I had come to admire over previous years fell by the way, stumbling over the dogs of immigration and insularity that they had so eagerly whistled up. Theresa May as leader of the Conservative Party and therefore Prime Minister was the least bad option.

But, her speech to the Conservative Party Conference made my skin crawl.

But if you believe you’re a citizen of the world, you’re a citizen of nowhere. You don’t understand what the very word ‘citizenship’ means.

With her nakedly tactical appeal to disaffected Labour and Leave voters, the supposed Left Behinds, it became clear that business, especially international business, was more the “predatory tiger to be shot” than the “strong and willing horse” of Churchill’s analogy.

May’s “good that government can do” looked rather too much like meddling than medicine, as a subsequent string of ill-conceived “goods” confirmed.

However, when at last the temptation of Jeremy Corbyn’s unpopularity, ineptitude  and unelectability became too great to resist, we could at least hope that she had simply been lying. That once a gullible electorate had swallowed the tosh and swept her to (greater) power, she would wield her massively “strong and stable” majority and forget the idiocies of her advisers.

But, then came three calamities.

Firstly, the last minute addition to the manifesto of a promised kick in the teeth to the core vote. The proposed policy on care funding may have been warranted. Why, after all, should those with wealth (in the form of an owned home) expect the state to pay for their care? How have we reached the stage where  passing on your home (i.e. your wealth) to your family has become an inalienable right? When did the safety net of social welfare need to protect houses, even as it struggles to protect healthcare? The sad, but obvious and time-proven fact is that you don’t promise to mug people just before ask them to vote for you. People never vote for tax rises.

Calamity Two – far worse than the first – was the panicked U-turn. Even as some candidates reported that Calamity One wasn’t that big a deal, Calamity Two was unleashed. It was a little like felling an ancient sequoia because it cast a shadow on your picnic. Suddenly, all that was strong and stable washed away. People recalled other U-turns, not least the previous insistence that there wouldn’t be an election. A fragile mask fell away and a campaign hitherto almost entirely about May’s strong and stable leadership was in tatters.

And, compounded by Calamity Three: that the inept and unelectable Mr Corbyn turned out to be a nice and reasonable chap. His unflappable avuncularity, aided by a Santa-sack of unaffordable promises, became a welcome contrast to the shrill maiden aunt.

So, here we are with polls suggesting that May’s majority may even be reduced. The prospect of a Corbyn premiership is no longer laughably remote.

But, for all that, we need to grit our teeth next Thursday, vote for the least bad option and hope that in the inevitable post-mortem, wiser counsels prevail.

P.S. Interestingly, as I move this post from draft to final,  I see that the Economist is voting for the Liberal Democrats, rather than support the pull-up-the-drawbridge approach of both the Conservative and Labour parties. I’ve also received a flyer from the UK Libertarian Party (who knew?). Perhaps there are other options after all.

Image credit: https://unsplash.com/@motophoto