So, we have now completed our third national vote within just over 2 years, and it is odds on a fourth within a year. I had a rumour the other day that polling stations are occasionally used as primary schools!
I heard Theresa May make her first speech of the campaign on the radio driving home from work one day in April. She used the “strong and stable” motif 14 times in a speech lasting three minutes. It rang hollow and wooden then and even more so now. We have a weakened government going into the most important negotiations for the UK in the last 50 years. What’s more, it seems, our lead negotiator, the Prime Minister, is a bad negotiator. According to those closer to her than I, she is impossibly difficult to build rapport with and when talking to her people feel that she is reading off a script. Building rapport is the first step in negotiation, as any sales person or buyer will know. Getting the deal you want is much easier if the other party warms to you. May is unable to do this. I am concerned about the Brexit negotiations.
However, several pieces of good news from Thursday’s vote. Good news for business is that it does seem that a hard Brexit will not be possible with the new make-up of the House of Commons. There is a much-increased likelihood of a deal that includes free trade with Europe, as any other kind of deal will not pass through the commons. A consensus is more like to be reached. This, I believe, is good news for food and drink business and our economy in general.
The second piece of good news is that our young people are engaging with the future of the country. In fact, more Under 25s (72%) voted than Over 65s (70%) – this is the right way round and had these young people had been this energised for the Brexit Referendum it would have been a different result. Thirdly the re-emergence of the Labour party, no matter what side you are on, has to be good for the country. A strong opposition means policies are made that reach into all parts of our society which is good for the country. It is interesting how the disillusioned and disenfranchised within the UK have transferred from voting UKIP to Labour.
Finally, learn from the excellent marketing campaign that Labour put on during the campaign. Jeremy Corbyn’s soundbites were always done in an attractive and tranquil setting, giving a relaxed and at-ease impression. His public appearances were always with large crowds with people running to be part of the “party”. There were people like our neighbours in the crowd. This gave the impression, particularly to the young, of wanting to be part of something. Whereas Theresa May’s appearances were often in a small room with a number of polite people we couldn’t relate to. Learn for your own marketing – it was masterful!