Charlotte Street Partners

DAILY BRIEFING

DAILY BRIEFING

Putin your foot in it

Written by Katie Armour, senior associate 
Edited by Adam Shaw, associate partner
8 April 2021

Good morning,

On the BBC’s Good Morning Scotland radio programme yesterday, Alex Salmond was asked three times if he believed Russia was behind the poisonings of Sergei and Yulia Skripal in 2018. Scrambling for an answer that didn’t attribute blame, he said repeatedly that “the evidence came forward and people can see it for what it is”. Eh, yes. Exactly.
 
Sometimes in a campaign an interviewer stumbles into an issue that you know won’t go away in a hurry. Salmond and his staunch defence of all things Russian was one of those moments. Evading questions on the Salisbury attack was a particularly bad look and one that will undoubtedly get him in t-ruble (sorry).
 
In the course of the questioning Salmond described evidence that Russia had interfered in US elections as “very slight” and dismissed the suggestion it had sought to intervene in the Scottish independence referendum in 2014. The first of those has been evidenced by the US National Intelligence Council and the second confirmed by the House of Commons’ Intelligence and Security Committee.
 
The Alba party leader complained the line of questioning was irrelevant. But if you’re asking people to support Scotland becoming an independent country, it’s fair enough to ask about its foreign affairs.
 
Salmond launched a show on Russia Today in 2017. He claims to have complete editorial control and has stated he “holds no brief from the Kremlin”. However, he is curiously resistant to criticising Russian leadership. The show is on pause for the election, but questions remain about him lending credibility to Vladimir Putin’s regime.
 
Credibility, in fact, might be the issue that defines his whole campaign. Salmond’s personal approval rating has been consistently the worst of all the Scottish party leaders, coming in at minus 55% – making him less popular than Boris Johnson north of the border.
 
At the start of the week Salmond was buoyed by a Panelbase poll that put Alba at 6% of the list vote. If applied nationally, that would likely be enough to see Alba secure a handful of Holyrood seats. However, yesterday, Ipsos Moriput them on just 3%, below the required threshold to win representation.
 
Pollster Mark Diffley points out that while two thirds of Scots don’t think he’s fit for office, 20% do. Salmond isn’t trying to win an election so doesn’t need widespread support, he simply needs enough to get him over the line on the regional list. This is a man who is not trying to sweep the board, rather trying to game it.
 
With four weeks to consolidate support, and a commitment to a clean campaign, Salmond will want to divert attention from this topic as soon as possible.

News

The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) has announced that people under 30 in the will be offered an alternative jab to the Oxford-Astrazeneca vaccine over fears it is linked to very rare blood clots. Seventy-nine people have suffered blood clots after receiving the vaccine and 19 have died. Deputy chief medical officer Jonathan Van-Tam described the change as a “course correction” in the vaccination programme but stressed that the balance of risk was still very much in favour of the jab. (£)

Police and a public bus were the targets of violence and arson in Belfast yesterday evening, the sixth consecutive night of violence. Forty-one police officers are reported to have been injured in the string of attacks and a press photographer was assaulted. First minister Arlene Foster tweeted that there was “no justification for violence”. The prime minister voiced “deep concern” and said, “the way to resolve differences is through dialogue, not violence or criminality”.

New data shows methane levels in the environment surged by 14.7 parts per billion during 2020, the biggest increase since records began in 1983 and despite the coronavirus pandemic bringing much of the world’s economy to a halt. The level of carbon dioxide recorded in the atmosphere also reached record levels. Scientists have branded the revelations “worrying” and “disturbing”. (£)

Business and economy

The International Monetary Fund has suggested governments may need to tax high earners to foot Covid bills as the pandemic “deepens existing inequalities”. The organisation warned that wealth taxes could be needed if countries struggled to raise enough revenue to counter soaring debt. (£)

JP Morgan boss Jamie Dimon told shareholders in an annual letter that the company will need “significantly” less office space in the coming years as some employees shift to permanently working part-time from home. He also revealed plans to move people out of London as a result of Brexit, stating that Europe “has had, and will continue to have, the upper hand” in Brexit negotiations.

Columns of note

Iain Martin questions when the young will say enough is enough in his piece in The Times today. Noting that they’ve been last in the line for vaccines, jobs and houses, and regularly scolded for their faults, he suggests young people should fight back. Martin argues that “on several fronts the young continue to be comprehensively stitched up by their elders” and voices concern about furlough being designed to protect those already in jobs, not support those looking for them. (£)

In The Guardian, Michael Marmot, professor of epidemiology at University College London, writes that the Sewell report cited his work but didn’t include points on structural racism. He suggests that if the report authors had read all of his recent work they wouldn’t have been quick to dismiss this as a crucial factor. Marmot goes on to question the report for recognising the importance of social determinants of health but shifting the burden onto what individuals and communities can do for themselves.

Cartoon source: The Independent

Markets

What happened yesterday?

London stocks closed in positive territory on Wednesday on the back of investors’ hopes of recovery and encouraging reports from the services sector.

The FTSE 100 ended the session up 0.9% at 6,885.32, while the FTSE 250 was up 0.76% at 21,160.57.

However, sterling was weaker, trading down 0.57% against the dollar at $1.37. It also slipped by 0.6% against the euro to €1.16.

In company news: 

Shell rose by 1.39% despite announcing that extreme weather in Texas in February would likely affected first quarter adjusted earnings by up to $200m.

Hilton Food Group saw its share price rise by 2.86% after it reported a 20% annual profit rise and a higher dividend than expected.

What’s happening today?

Finals
Equals Gp
M Winkworth
OneSavings Bank

Trading accouncements
Dunelm
Entain
Ferrexpo

AGMs

Nokia Ord
Octopus Renew.
Rm

UK economic announcements
(07:00) Factory Orders (GER)

Int. economic announcements
(07:00) Factory Orders (GER)
(09:30) PM Construction (US)
(10:00) Producer Price Index (EU)
(13:30) Continuing Claims (US)
(13:30) Initial Jobless Claims (US)

Source: Financial Times

did you know

There are at least 25 different daffodil species and up to 13,000 hybrids (Source: Daffodil Data Bank)

Parliamentary highlights

House of Commons

The House of Commons is in recess and will next sit on 13 April

House of Lords 

The House of Lords is in recess and will next sit on 12 April

Scottish Parliament 

The Scottish parliament is in recess ahead of the election on 6 May

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