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DAILY BRIEFING

Has our right to make mistakes been cancelled?

Written by Laura Sweeting, researcher 
Edited by David Gaffney, partner
18 June 2021

Good morning,

“Cancel culture” is a term that feels both recent and yet already ingrained in the modern vernacular. It is tossed around casually in reference to those who have been “cancelled”; the freshly judged pariahs of social media who have likely been on the losing end of a Twitter spat.   
  
Individuals on the receiving end can be stripped of their platform, reputation and potentially their career within the space of hours, if not minutes. The author JK Rowling and Bill Michaelthe former KPMG chairman, have experienced the swiftness with which this can occur.   
  
It is easy to forget, for those of us lucky enough to have become used to it, that the ability to voice an opinion is a privilege that not everyone is afforded. The publication this week of an essay by author Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie on cancel culture will perhaps encourage us to value it more.   
  
In her three-part essay, Adichie details her relationship with two young Nigerian feminist writers she took under her wing, later to be publicly cancelled by both on Twitter. Adichie’s essay is in no way a redemptive rant. Rather she expresses her despair at the suffocating sanctimony of social media and the speed with which we grab our metaphorical pitchforks.   
  
We are encouraged to conform to the ideological orthodoxy and to “denounce your friends for flimsy reasons in order to remain a member of the chosen puritan class”, Adichie writes. Twitter is no longer a place for self-expression but, for many, an exercise in self-preservation, she argues.   
  
What struck me most about Adichie’s essay was her description of our constant and exhausting attempt to “out-good” each other and her striking observation that “what matters is no longer goodness but the appearance of goodness”. Intent is neither here nor there, it’s the perception that counts.   
  
Businesses and brands are learning this too. Pepsi, L’Oreal, Starbucks, and Nike are some of the biggest brands to have experienced ‘cancellation’ moments recently. The consumer no longer chooses their purchases on product alone, but on the transparent ethos and values of the brand. To avoid the clasps of cancellation, businesses and brands are increasingly required to also “out-good” each other, to engage in a constant game of moral one-upmanship.  
 
But the swiftness of cancelling is robbing us of the luxury to change our minds, take time to form opinions, or simply to get things wrong. Cancel culture frequently highlights a lack of compassion and a quickness to judge. Adichie’s message has resonated with many, so hopefully it encourages some would-be keyboard warriors to pause for a moment before they brandish their Twitter pitchforks.   

News

The Liberal Democrats have won Chesham and Amersham in a by-election. Previously a Conservative strong-hold, Sarah Green secured 21,517 votes, giving her a majority of more than 8,000 over Peter Fleet, the Conservative candidate. 
 
The leader of the Democratic Unionist Party, Edwin Poots has resigned after just 21 days in the role amid an internal revolt. The news follows the appointment of Paul Given and Michelle O’Neill as Ireland’s first and deputy first ministers. 
 
The UK government is set to steer Channel 4 towards privatisation as soon as 2022. The privatisation of the channel has been explored several times in the past; however, due to the shifting nature of the television market the government has reconsidered its position. The decision will be overseen by Oliver Dowden, culture secretary, and John Whittingdale, minister for media. (£)

Business and economy

Scottish brewer, BrewDog, has announced plans to launch an independent review into the accusation of ‘rotten culture’ in the business. In a letter signed by more than 100 former employees, James Watt, co-founder of BrewDog, has been accused of being sexist and misogynistic. 
 
The US government has sued to prohibit Aon’s takeover of Willis Towers Watson. The $30bn deal would have created the world’s largest insurance broker. The Department of Justice said the deal would “eliminate substantial head-to-head competition” and lead to higher prices. Shares in both Aon and Willis were down on Thursday following the administration’s actions.(£) 
 
The Financial Conduct Authority has found that understanding of cryptocurrencies has dropped whilst their popularity has increased. Fewer than one in ten potential crypto buyers were aware of the warnings from UK regulators and the dangers of purchasing digital assets. More than 4 per cent of UK adults owned cryptocurrency in January 2021. (£)

Columns of note

In response to discussions of global vaccine distribution, Rogelio Mayta, KK Shailaja and Anyang’ Nyong’o reflect on the necessity of an internationalist approach; stating “vaccine nationalism is killing us”. They suggest the recent G7 summit has highlighted an unwillingness to commit to fair global vaccine distribution. 
 
In the Financial Times Magazine, Emma Jacobs reflects on the burden the pandemic has placed on young people’s mental health and the best ways for educators and parents to tackle this. Jacobs discusses innovative ways to engage young people and the lessons that can be learnt from a year in lockdown. (£)

Cartoon source: The Independent

Markets

What happened yesterday?

London stocks closed in negative territory on Thursday. The FTSE 100 ended the session down 0.44% at 7153.43. Similarly, the FTSE 250 was down 0.37% at 22,535.14. 
 
Sterling was up 0.14% against the euro, trading at €1.168, whilst it traded 0.56% weaker against the dollar at $1.392. The dollar has jumped due to the anticipated Federal Reserve rate rise predictions. 
 
In company news:
 
JPMorgan Chase has bought digital wealth management platform Nutmeg. The deal will net JPMorgan Chase significant assets in Britain. Nutmeg is suspected to be valued at £700m. 
 
Fintech company Wise has announced it will go public in London through a landmark direct listing. Wise is the first technology company to pursue this route into the UK market. 

What’s happening today?

Finals
Inspecs Group
Telecom Plus

Interims
Blue Prism

Trading announcements
Tesco

AGMs
Alba Mineral Resources
Beowulf
Boohoo
Drumz
Gulf Keystone Petroleum
Katoro Gold
Location Scienc
Raven Prop
Synairgen
Trinity
UK Commercial Property Trust

EGMs
Jz Capital

GMs
Chariot Oil
City of London Investment

UK economic announcements
(07:00) Retail Sales

Int. economic announcements
(07:00) Producer Price Index (GER)
(09:00) Current Account (EU)

Source: Financial Times

did you know

      Angelina Jolie, Elvis Presley and Bono all have species of spider named after them. Bill Gates has a fly. (Source: @qikipedia) 

Parliamentary highlights

House of Commons

The House of Commons is not sitting. The House will next sit on 21 June 2021.

House of Lords 

The House of Lords is not sitting. The House will next sit on 21 June 2021.

Scottish parliament 

No business scheduled.   

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