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Good morning,

Written by Charlie Clegg, senior associate
Edited by David Gaffney, partner

3 March 2022 

Scottish Labour’s conference begins tomorrow and, unless Anas Sarwar secures peace in Ukraine, its biggest story has already happened. Ahead of the conference, the party has ditched the rose as its emblem. Scottish Labour will instead sport thistle in muted purple and red. The rose, the national flower of England, has long raised hackles in Scotland and, as far back as 2012, then Labour MP Tom Harris was pondering whether it should be changed. A change in political aesthetics is wrought with risk. It can more expose what the party is trying to escape than show where it hopes to go. Scottish Labour is trying to escape both its ‘branch office’ reputation and its persistent third place in polls. The thistle, distinctly Scottish, seeks to tackle the former to improve the latter. The response has been churlish; though Scotland’s other parties may have room to be smug. The Scottish Conservatives, which accused Labour of “wasting time” on their logo, were last distracted by the need for a new logo in 2012. The SNP’s loop logo, which incorporates the saltire while evoking a thistle, has displayed remarkable longevity, serving its party since 1960. Labour, of all UK parties, knows the power of a re-brand. The rose itself was adopted by Neil Kinnock in 1986. The party’s red flag was too bolshy and the torch, the central element of its earlier logo, had been nabbed by the Tories. The rose symbolised a new direction, which Tony Blair would continue when he decked his first party conference in centrist pistachio. It is ironic that Sarwar, a moderate and pragmatist, should seek to ditch the rose of Labour modernisation. Scottish Labour’s corporate identity is diverging just as its Scottish and UK leaderships agree on a moderate, patriotic approach. The change is, though, also contingent: Sarwar is displaying some of the pragmatism that helped Labour out of its wilderness years. But will it help Scottish Labour? Other parties have had their fun and the circus has probably already moved on. The logo’s chief value is perhaps as a statement of intent to those of us who were paying attention anyway. Its main story may have been had already, but the policy and work concentrated in Labour’s conference is far more likely to impact the party’s fortunes than is its logo.


Russian forces have taken the city of Kherson. The southern port city is the first major settlement to fall to Russia, one week to the day since the country’s invasion of Ukraine began. Meanwhile Kyiv has faced aerial bombardment and the south-eastern city of Mariupol is under siege. Ukraine estimates 2,000 civilians have died since the invasion and the UN estimates that one million Ukrainians have fled the country. Voters in Birmingham Erdington will today go to the polls in a by-election. Jack Dromey, the seat’s MP since 2010, died on 7 January. Dromey, who was married to former Labour acting leader Harriet Harman, held the seat at the 2019 general election with a majority of 3,601. A charity has found the murder of Sarah Everard, which took place a year ago this week, has sparked a nationwide “reckoning” about male violence against women. The survey on behalf of Rosa – a grant-making charity for women’s causes – found 89% believed there had been a shift in public opinion since the crime.

Business and economy

Russian billionaire Roman Abramovich has claimed he will sell football club Chelsea with “net proceeds” going to “all victims of the war in Ukraine”. Abramovich has put a £3bn price tag on the London club, which he bought in 2003. He also claimed he would not pursue £1.5bn he has loaned Chelsea. UK ministers are considering seizing the property of Russian oligarchs under UK and EU sanctions. Communities secretary Michael Gove is understood to be drawing up plans to seize property from nine individuals close to Russia’s President Putin. UN members have agreed to tackle global plastic waste with an international treaty. Supporters have described the move as having the potential to be as important as the 1989 Montreal protocol, which phased out the use of ozone-depleting substances.

Columns of note

Could two countries, each with branches of McDonald’s, really go to war with one another? The idea that they couldn’t is called the Golden Arches Theory of Conflict. It’s just one of the myths that James Marriott, writing in The Times, believes to have been shattered by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Marriott argues that, while western progressives have long placed faith in a natural global shift towards liberalism, history is directionless and, as we are seeing, often regressive. (£) By 2025, all the UK’s remaining landline phones will be connected to a digital service. In The Spectator, Laurie Graham sings the praises of a device that, in her lifetime, has gone from wonder to derision. Graham believes the landline’s limits are really advantages in an age of information overload. (£)


What happened yesterday? 

As the US Federal Reserve signalled they would raise interest rates this month, the S&P 500 rose two per cent and the Nasdaq Composite was up 1.6%. Europe’s regional Stoxx 600 benchmark added 0.9%. The moves came as Brent crude oil climbed more than six per cent to $111.60 a barrel. The pound stood at 1.34 dollars and 1.20 euros.

In company news:

Apple, Airbus, Boeing, and Exxon are all among companies cutting ties with Russia in response to the country’s invasion of Ukraine. Centrica, owner of British Gas, has also agreed to exit gas supply agreements with Russian partners. Hiscox has returned to the black, announcing its strongest underwriting profit in five years.

What’s happening today?

AGMsJersey ElectricityChemringZytronicPetro Matad    Final resultsTaylor WimpeyRentokil InitialCairn HomesAdmiralMelroseCRHCoatsBank Pekao SaVesuviusSchrodersLon.stk.exch   ParityEntain Franchise BrandMeggittMondiHuntingPageGroupElementisITVHutchmedSpire Healthcare        Synthomer     Empiric           
Interim resultsGalliford TryAllergy Thera.AvationDotdigitalDarktrace        International economic announcements(09:00) PMI Manufacturing (EU)(09:00) PMI Composite (EU)(08:55) PMI Composite (GER)(10:00) Unemployment Rate (EU)(09:00) PMI Services (EU)(10:00) Producer Price Index (EU)(08:55) PMI Services (GER)(15:00) Factory Orders (US)(14:45) PMI Composite (US)(14:45) PMI Services (US)(15:00) ISM Services (US)(13:30) Continuing Claims (US)(13:30) Initial Jobless Claims (US)(15:00) ISM Prices Paid (US)
Source: FTSE 100, Financial Times

did you know

Kyiv’s Arsenalna metro station is the deepest in the world. Its depth, 105.5m, is greater than the height of Liverpool Cathedral.

Parliamentary highlights

House of Commons 

Oral questionsInternational trade

House of Lords 

Oral questionsVarious LegislationHighgate Cemetery Bill – consideration of Commons AmendmentsHealth and Care Bill – report stage (day 2) Orders and regulationsRussia (Sanctions) (EU Exit) (Amendment) (No. 2) Regulations 2022; Russia (Sanctions) (EU Exit) (Amendment) (No. 3) Regulations 2022

Scottish parliament 

General questionsFirst minister’s questionsPortfolio questionsRural affairs and islandsMinisterial statementThe Introduction of the Gender Recognition Reform (Scotland) BillScottish government debateThe value of public service broadcasting to Scotland

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