If I have learnt one thing throughout my entire working life – it is that both the markets and indeed business activity in general are highly sensitive to instability – whether it be national or political, financial or global.
So thus far in 2016, the world economy faces a heightened global threat of Jihadist terrorist activity, on-going full scale civil war in Syria, conflict in Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya, and the serious prospect of a divided and near insolvent European project….and believe it or not, it is only May.
Much closer to home, the UK is itself starting to look more politically unstable, with the Tory party at war with itself over Europe, and the Labour party at war with itself over their leader. So should Britain vote to leave the EU at the upcoming referendum – will a vote to leave trigger David Cameron’s resignation as both Prime Minister and Tory party leader? If so, which current national political figure has the gravitas to takeover and lead the UK through “divorce” negotiations with the EU, whilst simultaneously presiding over the inevitable Scottish Referendum that will follow? Food for thought don’t you think? Whichever side of the political divide you are on.
In many respects, there are some business sectors in the UK who have still to fully recover from the economic and financial collapse of 2008 – so the prospect of further instability would seem both untimely and in many respects rather unjust. What can be done in a world where the voters in rich countries have largely lost belief in their mainstream politicians – choosing instead to look to the likes of Donald Trump in the USA or Marine Le Pen in France?
Even in our own country, as little as five years ago – would we have really envisaged a card carrying fringe left wing MP leading the Labour party? Or the apparently popular personality cult of Nigel Farage putting enough pressure on the Tory party to bring about a referendum on our own membership of the EU? Strange times indeed……but then again, if Leicester City can win the Premier League, surely anything is possible?
However, it can be without question that whatever happens throughout the remaining months of 2016, if the UK economy is to fully get back on its feet it is going to require some strong and committed political leadership in order to create a stable enough environment for the UK business community to do what it does best. Which in simplistic terms, is to create enough wealth and prosperity for UK PLC to allow living standards for the working population to rise – and perhaps more importantly – all of us to feel better about the reward that we receive for the work that we do. Which is really rather the whole point, isn’t it?
Written by Peter Nicholls, CEO of ideology consulting. For more information, go to www.ideologyconsulting.co.uk