As the year draws to an end, here at Atlas we’ve been reflecting on our top 12 moments that mattered in 2018; the good, the bad and the ugly.
4th March 2018
On Sunday 4th March Salisbury, a relatively unheard-of city famed for its Anglican Cathedral, hit headlines around the globe, as the setting for a Le Carré style attempted espionage. In the early afternoon Mr Skripal and his daughter Julia were discovered unconscious on a bench in Salisbury. The city went into lock down and the press went mad; who was behind the poisoning, Putin or rouge Russian security agents? Since then we’ve learnt the pair were poisoned by military-grade Novichok nerve agent. There were two other innocent people who later came into contact with the perfume bottle, used to contain the nerve agent, one of whom died. The two Russian suspects have been identified as officers in Russian military intelligence.
Did you know…The head of the British Army has declared Russia a "far greater threat" to the UK's national security than the Islamic State group.
Gender Pay Gap Crescendo
April 5th 2018
The Gender Pay Gap filled the headlines in the lead up to April 5th, with barely a day going by without the media putting a company and their data in the spotlight. Despite people frequently conflating equal pay and the gender pay gap, it was encouraging to see the message break through that more needed to be done to support the progression of women across all industries. By April 2018 positive stories and calls to action, such as EasyJet’s efforts, were gaining as much attention as the scandals and outrage. A lack of workplace equality isn’t a ‘girls job’ to fix, and as men become more aware of the problem, having to address the stark statistics, they too can help.
Whilst over 10,000 companies and public sector organisations revealed their pay gap data this year, one got more criticism than any other - the BBC. The ONS puts the UK’s average median pay gap at 17.9% so the BBC’s gap of 9.7% is significantly below that, and better than the majority of other UK media organisations. However, it’s PR woes were compounded when former China Editor, Carrie Gracie won an equal pay claim against the corporation. She later donated all of her back pay to the Fawcett Society to support other women fighting legal cases.
Did you know…There were 7,375 pay gap stories in UK media during March, five times more than in the previous month. And there were 10,891 employment tribunal claims from April- June in 2018, up 13% on the same period in 2017.
Facebook CEO, Mark Zuckerberg, grilled on live TV by Congress over data misuse
10th April 2018
It was the most oddly riveting TV watching the gawky tech billionaire, who still wouldn’t look out of place on a college campus, getting grilled over the Cambridge Analytica data-harvesting scandal. Having refused numerous times to testify (UK Parliament didn’t get a look-in), politicians wanted blood. The out of touch questions and gnashing teeth of lawmakers jarred with the nervous yet robotic calm of the overly prepared CEO. The hours of scrutiny revealed snippets on Facebook’s battle with regulation, it’s business model and vulnerabilities over election interference and fake news. For many though, the real insight was as much about getting a peek of the man-child who grew an empire that defined a generation of social media users and is unrivalled in its global influence.
Did you know… Mark Zuckerberg was questioned by over 100 politicians for almost 10 hours.
The Windrush Scandal
29th April 2018
The Windrush scandal hit the headlines, triggering social outcry and political outrage as it revealed elderly people of Caribbean heritage had been wrongly detained, denied legal rights and threated with deportation. Once the story broke, the Government argued they did not consider the Windrush generation to be here illegally, despite the ‘hostile environment’ they had been forced to endure. Following weeks of uproar about the Government’s treatment of the Windrush generation, on the 29th April the then Home Secretary, Amber Rudd, resigned. Tragically, this will never compensate the families of the 11 people deported from their home who passed away overseas, or those who lost jobs and driving licenses when their indefinite leave to remain was withdrawn.
Did you know… Sam Beaver King, one of the passengers on board the first Windrush journey later became the first black Mayor of the London Borough of Southwark in 1983. He also had an influential role in the first Caribbean carnival which is what we now know as Notting Hill Carnival.
The Royal Wedding
19th May 2018
On a glorious sunny Saturday in May, almost 2 billion people tuned in to watch Prince Harry marry his American girlfriend Megan Markle. Yes, almost 2 billion. Their ‘I Dos’ were heard across countries, continents and cultures. Their every movement and fashion decision analysed by royalists and republicans alike. It marked an important moment of diversification for the royal family, as they welcomed a mixed-race American divorcee with a high flying career and a longstanding commitment to activism into their ranks. And the reverberations of their big day are still being felt. Google has revealed that Megan Markle was the ‘most searched for person’ of 2018 and the royal wedding itself was the most searched story. Love them or loathe them, the royals are still undeniably top of our news agenda.
Did you know… Harry and Meghan read traditional vows from the Common Book of Prayer, though Meghan left out the word "obey" - just like Diana did.
Dacre Departs the Daily Mail
7th June 2018
In June this year, Paul Dacre, Editor of the Daily Mail since 1992, announced he was stepping down. Under Dacre’s leadership the paper was always at the forefront of political and public debate, from calling out Stephen Lawrence’s suspected murderers, to being on the side of the ‘free press’ during the phone hacking scandal and most recently, christening Remain supporters in Parliament the “enemies of the people” off the back of the Brexit vote. Love him or loathe him, Dacre has been the éminence grise of British politics for decades. In his absence, with huge pressure on traditional print, the question Geordie Greig his successor must answer is what lies ahead for Britain’s third most read newspaper.
Did you know… The Daily Mail has 1.3 million readers and is the most read newspaper after the Sun with 1.5 million and the free Metro paper with 1.4 million.
England winning a penalty shoot-out in World Cup
3rd July 2018
The Women’s Commonwealth netball final win clinched the BBC Sports Moment of the Year Award. But surely, for football fans, England finally winning a penalty shoot-out for the first time since v Spain in Euro '96 was the moment of 2018?! It was the last 16 tie of the World Cup in Russia. England had done well to qualify out of their group and they were facing Columbia. A testy match ended in a 1-1 draw after 120 minutes and every England fan's worse dread was looming… Amazingly, despite Henderson's miss, the goalkeeper Jordan Pickford performed heroics and Eric Dier calmly slotted home the winning penalty for England to bury 22 years of penalty pain.
Did you know… More than 24million people in the UK watched the penalty shoot-out (not counting those who live-streamed it on the internet).
The new temperance
10th October 2018
Wave goodbye to Student Union £1 a pint nights, new research published in the journal BMC public health showed earlier this year that nearly 30% of 16-24 year olds do not drink, an increase from 18% in 2005. It seemed Generation Z was swiping left to drunken nights ‘out out’ in favour of looking picture perfect for their Instagram stories. Increased tuition fees, housing costs and mental health concerns could also be contributing to the increased sobriety. Binge drinking, much like smoking, is dropping out of fashion. But, with cocaine use rising sharply in the last year, is booze being replaced with risqué habits.
Did you know… Declining interest in alcohol among young people is a worldwide trend, according Dr James Nicholls, director of research and policy development at Alcohol Research UK.
Angela Merkel to step down
28th October 2018
With her announcement that she would step down as party chair, the Merkel era is drawing to a close.
Even her harshest critics can’t say that she had it easy. The collapse of Lehman Brothers, the Euro crisis, the Fukushima nuclear disaster and the shift in Germany's stance on nuclear power, the Greek bailout and then, of course, the Refugee crisis.
Frau Merkel will be remembered for her commitment to freedom, her profound response to Trump’s election as US President in 2016, her unique ability to get through to Putin, her unflinching desire to help…and, of course, for her love of the beautiful game.
‘Mutti’ will be admired and praised for her quiet confidence, but torn apart for her actions that led to the formation of the Alternative für Deutschland. Her successor, Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer, or AKK, has a lot of work to do both to reunite her party and the nation if she is to hold onto Merkel’s power base. Let’s see what 2019 brings.
Did you know… Potato soup is one of Angie’s dinner party staples.
7 November 2018
Though the long-awaited ‘blue wave’ turned out to be more of a ripple, it was clear the morning after the mid-terms that the weight of political power in Washington had definitely shifted. It had been a night of many firsts. The first openly gay male governor took charge in Colorado, the first two Muslim women were elected to office, and the first woman under 30 years old was elected to the House. But despite all the reasons for Democrats to cheer, they had lost the expectation management game. The results also reiterated the deep divisions in US society – and the uphill struggle ahead as they look to 2020.
Did you know… 529 vs. 312 is the number of women running for Congress in 2018 vs. 2016.
Michael Cohen’s Sentencing
12th of December 2018
In the final throes of 2018, Michael Cohen was found guilty of, among other crimes, tax evasion and campaign finance violations. President Trump’s former lawyer/fixer/Pitbull, having turned on his old master, was sentenced to 3 years in prison and hit with nearly $2,000,000 worth of fines. The cloud already hanging over the Trump Whitehouse darkened as the President became an alleged accessory to these crimes.
Cohen repudiated Trump’s self-confessed ignorance of Cohen’s payment of hush money to Stormy Daniels and Karen McDougal, women who allegedly had past affairs with the now-President. This prompted Trump to label Cohen a ‘rat’ on twitter. Not the smartest analogy considering the circumstances. If he didn’t before, Trump now reeks of illegal wrongdoing and the office in which he works is the most noxious it’s been since Watergate. Talk about ‘cleaning the swamp’?
Did you know… According to the Washington Post, between taking office and September of 2018, Donald Trump made more than 5,000 false or misleading claims.
A vote of no confidence
12th December 2018
7:30am. The moment when Sir Graham Brady announced a vote of no confidence in the Prime Minister had been triggered by the Conservative Party.
By 9:00pm it was all over. In a packed committee room full of MPs and journalists in scenes relayed across the world, Sir Graham Brady confirmed Theresa May retained the confidence of her party colleagues winning with 200 votes to 117.
This was the moment that the internal divisions within the Conservative Party and the Government reached a crescendo. It was the culmination of a year where the Prime Minister has taken many hits but had managed to cling on.
Did you know… Between the announcement of the vote and the vote itself there were more than 90,000 tweets that included "the Conservative Party" and the prime minister's name as well as the hashtags #NoConfidence and #LeadershipChallenge.