We recently celebrated our second birthday with an exhibition of the Moments That Mattered since November 2015. Here we take a forward look at 2018 and discuss some of the key moments which could define the year ahead.
On the twelfth day of Christmas my true love gave to me...
12 Months of Tweeting
11 Tories Rebelling
10 DUPs Dealing
9 Runs a-Winning
8 British Bake-offs
7 Blue Planets
6 Priti meetings
5 “Oh Jeremy Corbyn’s!”
4 Big Gaffes
2 New Royals
And a Greg Clark Industrial Strategy.
12 months of tweeting
This year Twitter has again confirmed its place as the very public battleground of American politics. #MAGA and #ImpeachTrump were two of the most frequent political hashtags of the year. Obama’s Nelson Mandela Quote was retweeted 1.7 million times (the only tweet to receive more this year - or ever - was this less poignant request for free chicken nuggets-turned advert). Trump continued his fine form from 2016. Arguably this year’s most inglorious diplomatic highlight was the President calling Kim Jong-Un “short and fat”.
11 Tory Rebels
Theresa May suffered her first Commons defeat as Prime Minister on the 13th December. 11 Conservative MPs voted for an amendment giving Parliament a final say on the Brexit Bill against the wishes of Government. Following the vote, the Daily Mail printed one of the most controversial front pages of the year, branding the rebels as “malcontents.” The torrent of abusive treatment many MPs, (especially women), receive online makes you wonder how we can possibly encourage the best and the brighted to choose politics as a career, and should worry us all.
10 DUPs dealing
After failing to secure enough seats to form a majority government after calling a snap election, Theresa May looked to the 10 DUP MPs to form a minority government. Then leader of twelve MPs, Tim Farron, ruled the Lib Dems out of the only possible alternative deal on policy grounds, but perhaps also reflecting the scars and lessons learned from a previously bruising coalition. Instead he called on May to resign the morning after the election. Unsurprisingly she ignored him, which was a sign of things to come for the Lib Dems, still languishing below 10% in the polls. The controversial pact with the DUP involved £1 billion in extra funding for Northern Ireland over the next two years, demonstrating just how effective their punchy negotiating tactics were. With the Irish border top of the agenda in Brexit talks, this will continue to challenge the Government’s political management skills in the new year.
9 runs a-winning
England won the 2017 Cricket World Cup, beating India by 9 runs at Lords. They were joined by the the England women’s football team, who defied expectations reaching the semi finals of the Euros, outperforming their male counterparts! The success of the cricket team was brought back into the spotlight this December after they won Sports Personality Team of the Year. After a miserable Ashes tour to date, this gave English Cricket fans a much needed reminder of what winning feels like.
8 British Bakeoffs
The Great British Bake Off returned for its 8th series, following its controversial move from the BBC to Channel 4. Many swore to never watch it again, with viewing figures for the premiere 4 million lower than 2016. Despite the lower numbers, many people apparently enjoyed it more in its new guise. Whether Noel Fielding and Sandi Toksvig lived up to Mel and Sue’s legacy is debatable, but it’s hard to deny the brilliance of their shirts.
7 Blue Planets
Blue Planet returned to our screens for a second series this winter. Across seven instalments, David Attenborough once again captivated living rooms across the country, narrating the the weird and wonderful world of the deep seas. The David vs Goliath battle between an octopus and a shark was our favourite of the dramatic highlights! A serious message about the ways in which humanity is damaging ocean life also resonated. This years unexpected environmentalist, Michael Gove was one of the viewers affected. He said the images of harm caused by plastics “haunted” him and has since vowed to take action.
6 Priti meetings
Priti Patel was the second Cabinet Minister forced to resign this November. The revelation of a number of secret meetings with business and political figures in Israel was a scandal impossible to survive. The PM’s decision to call her back from overseas to face the sack, led to a significant spike in the flight tracker Flightradar’s 24 website as thousands of political obsessives monitored her imminent departure. She joined Michael Fallon, who quit as Defence Secretary a mere 2-weeks earlier following allegations of inappropriate behaviour.
5 “Oh Jeremy Corbyn’s”
As celebrated in our Moments that Mattered exhibition, Jeremy Corbyn went from jam-making, allotment-loving, unelectable zero to un-spun, old skool, socialist hero this summer. He successfully denied the Conservative Government a majority that had appeared odds-on when May called the election. Thanks to the White Stripes ever adaptable ditty, his name was sung up and down the country with tens of thousands liable to burst into loud renditions of ‘Oh Jeremy Corbyn’ at any given time at Glastonbury and a host of other rallies. The chanting and the shock results from the exit polls helped get ‘Corbynmania’ into the Collins Dictionary Words of the Year.
4 Big Gaffes
At the Oscars, the wrong envelope somehow made it to the presenters hands. This resulted in La La Land being awkwardly, incorrectly announced as the winner of Best Picture, which was actually awarded to Moonlight. Gaffe number two saw Paul Nuttall call Plaid Cymru’s Leanne Wood “Natalie”, not once but twice, during ITV’s Election debate. Then Prue Leith accidentally tweeted the winner of this year’s Bakeoff finale, Sophie Faldo, the morning before it was broadcast, blaming the fact that she was in a different time zone when the blunder occurred. And finally peak gaffe was reached in October, with Theresa May’s speech at the Conservative Party Conference, which was hindered by a pesky cough, a self-destructing backdrop and a “comedy” P45; certainly one of 2017’s hardest to watch moments.
The year started with a Labour three-line whip vote to trigger article 50. One fifth of Labour MPs ignored their leader’s directive and decided to rebel. Corbyn’s position on Brexit in particular (when anyone can determine what it is) continues to divide his own party. The drama was not limited to the Labour benches though. Not to be out done on parliamentary discipline, May ordered her MPs to abstain from any opposition day debates or votes on Universal Credit to avoid embarrassing defeats. Her 3 line whip on the Brexit Bill finally failed this month, testimony to the Conservatives transition from ‘strong and stable’ to ‘weak and wobbly’.
2 New Royals
When Meghan and Harry went public with their relationship last year, the British Press showed the worst of what it had to offer. However, a year on, when they announced their engagement, the newspapers were all on board. She was the second addition to the royal family announced this year after Kate and William also revealed they were expecting a third child. Between baby watch and wedding dress speculation, there’s a lot to look forward to for royalists in 2018.
And a Greg Clark Industrial Strategy.
Despite a year full of shock election results, viral videos and controversial website changes, there was still time for some nitty gritty. A riveting (and only partially recycled) Industrial Strategy, subtitled ‘Building a Britain fit for the future‘ was launched the same day the aforementioned Royal Engagement news broke, and quite unfairly overshadowed! Together with the preceding Autumn Budget, there was a whopping 349 pages of policy proposals for the coming years. Haven’t found the time to read it yourself yet? You know where we are…
Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year from all at Atlas Partners
You could be fooled in to thinking there would be no real news on the gender pay gap until the April reporting deadline. But, you’d be wrong.
With regular references to “embracing the future” and “looking forwards not backwards” the Chancellor of the Exchequer attempted to sound an optimistic note on our economic prospects, despite downgraded productivity forecasts. He was helped by new OBR figures that indicate the national debt has peaked and borrowing is predicted to fall.
Philip Hammond’s job today was to pass his budget camel through the eye of a needle. His speech and the policy changes behind it attempt to juggle the concerns of populace growing tired of austerity, outmanoeuvre the opposition and placate critics from within his own party. With so little in the bank for giveaways, he put in a solid performance that was decidedly light on substance. The 'B' word was almost entirely absent, save for setting aside further £3bn in funds for “preparation’.
It was a good day for those who invested in their own future with a bet at 16/1 odd that the Chancellor would use the expression “long economicky words” in his second Budget this year. His joke was a reference to media reports that Michael Gove had, apparently, been using such lexicon around the cabinet table to “audition for the role of Chancellor”.
As was well trailed in the media, the focus of the Budget was on housing; with measures to increase homeownership, scrap stamp duty for the majority of first-time buyers. There was a lot of talk but less action on digital skills and infrastructure and much drum rolling for the Industrial Strategy White Paper which is due out next week. However, there were also changes to the minimum wage, tweaks to mitigate the harshest consequences of bringing in Universal Credit and some tax relief for small businesses.
If you would like to read the Chancellor’s Speech in full you can do so here.
Always a hard task having to react on the spot to the Budget, Jeremy Corbyn had a long and wide-ranging pre-prepared speech which bore only passing relation to the Budget itself.
Focusing on many of his key themes which had been pre-trailed in the lead up to the Budget. He asserted the Budget did not reflect reality and predicted, as the Budget unravels over the next few days, people will be revealed to be no better off. He then rightly majored on the poor growth numbers and broken promises on eradicating the deficit.
Now that that tricky task is over, the Labour economist and policy guys will start to look at the detail and no doubt make hay over some of the real weak areas in the Government’s current economic performance.
Whether it will make an impact and force a u-turn remains to be seen. Remember, it wasn't Labour which forced the frantic back tracking in Spring, but Hammond's own party back benchers. We'll find out their reaction over the next few days...
On Equal Pay Day, make sure you're Pay Gap ready
Since we launched in November 2015, the worlds of media and politics have experienced momentous change.
Of all those moments, which mattered most?
We asked some of our famous friends for their answers. Visit our Moments that Mattered gallery to see what they said.
We obsessively follow the shifting changes in media, public opinion and our volatile political landscape. As professional contrarians, we debate the importance and impact of moments along the way, to inform the advice we give to our clients.
Some moments are funny, some serious, some seem insignificant at first but gain momentum or, on reflection, represent major turning points. Social feeds and editorial agendas are crowded, so each person has a different view on what matters most.
The moments gallery reinforces how important sport is to our national psyche, with the power to bring us together. Sir Matthew Pinsent, Olympic rower and broadcaster, Brandon Lewis MP, Minister of State for Immigration, and Dr Rosena Allin-Khan MP, Shadow Minister for Sport, all chose uplifting sporting moments.
News moments also have the power to reveal something deeper about our social and cultural attitudes. Afua Hirsch, Broadcaster and writer, Sam Burne James, News Editor of PR Week, and Sophie Walker, Leader of the Women's Equality Party, all chose moments that highlight the struggle for equal acceptance and opportunity, whatever your race or gender, is far from over.
Moments from Tom Newton Dunn, Political Editor of the Sun, Anushka Asthana, Joint Political Editor of the Guardian, and Caroline Mulcahy MBE, FCO Head of Middle East policy, remind us that politics can fundamentally shift the direction of a country and its national debate.
We are very grateful to all those who gave their time and thoughts to bring the Moments that Mattered exhibition together. Including Gemma Charles, Deputy Editor of Campaign Magazine, who reminded us that a moment doesn't have to be serious to have global impact.
We'd love you to join the debate and see the full exhibition at the Mall Galleries, London SW1, on Wednesday 22nd November from 6.30pm - 9pm. Vote for your favourite moment to join us and raise a glass to surviving the last two years together...
As Kezia Dugdale steps down, friends of Atlas, Pagoda Porter Novelli, assess where the Labour Party can go next, and why GE2017 proved to be a fake victory for the Party North of the border.
Rupert Murdoch’s quest to buy the one media company to rule them all is starting to make Frodo’s trip to Mordor look like a walk in the park. We look at what the fuss is all about and why PRs should care about media ownership.
A silly season story or a realistic proposition? Gossip for the Westminster chattering classes or an exciting prospect with real appeal to the public? Just, how should we react to the official announcement of the creation of a new anti-Brexit party?
As Britain obsesses over Brexit and our future relationship with the EU, we are discovering a new-found interest for – or suddenly waking up to the importance of - continental politics. The fates of Emmanuel Macron and Angela Merkel matter more to us now than ever, as both have a hand in the future of the UK outside the bloc. With just over a month to go until the German elections on 24th September, friend of Atlas, Omar El-Nahry, explains the internal mechanics of the contest, and why no outcome is likely to enhance the UK’s negotiating position.
On the 6 April 2017, gender pay data became mandatory for all companies with 250+ employees, it is no longer something that can be ignored. So far, 41 companies have uploaded their data to the Government website. As we explore in our blog on the BBC’s recent gender pay tables – this is more than just compliance – this is about securing your reputation.
When we talk to communications professionals about the challenges posed by gender pay gap revelations, initial reactions are often dismissive. “It is an HR issue”, they tell us. “Our legal team are already on it”, they assure us. Here at Atlas, we recognise that preparing for gender pay gap reporting goes beyond HR and legal. As the BBC coverage demonstrates, it is a serious reputational issue.
Ellie McKenzie reviews her two weeks work experience with Atlas Partners...
I wasn’t sure what to expect on my first morning as I climbed up the stairs to open the office door into my two weeks work experience with Atlas Partners, but I had the assumption that it would involve making a lot of tea and coffee. I couldn’t be more wrong, the only tea I was close to was the communi‘tea’.
Little known before this week, the European nuclear co-ordination treaty, Euratom, has become the latest dividing line in Brexit negotiations. With consumer fears about life saving cancer treatments being threatened, a commons majority looks to be forming against one of Downing Street's Brexit red lines...
The Pimm’s is flowing. The sun is out. Wimbledon is on the telly. In Westminster circles, that can only mean one thing, ‘silly season’ has begun. But the serious story that may give rise to many as silly as #moggmentum is whether the Prime Minister will remain as leader of the Conservatives. We look at the conditions required for a challenge and the likely challengers.
A day of rage descended on Hamburg last week as opponents faced off and old battle lines were re-drawn…and that’s without talking about the violent protests surrounding the G20 summit.
Parliamentary Select Committees have often formed the backdrop to some of the more consequential and confrontational moments of recent times in British politics. After each new election committee memberships are renewed and MPs jostle for the key chair roles. We analyse why this matters to communications professionals and what it tells us about Parliament
It's been a long hot week and love is in the air thanks to #PrideinLondon, so we got to thinking... what teenage romance could teach Theresa May about her deal with the DUP?
With the general election now over, and normal business resuming, the big issue now for the new ‘Corbynite’ Labour party is how to position themselves on Brexit. Of the 262 seats they won on June 8th, 162 of these voted Leave in 2016, with 70 of those seats voting to do so by over 60%.
One of the more significant Acts passed by the last government was ‘English votes for English laws’ (EVEL). This legislation enables a Bill to be declared as English, or English and Welsh. These changes give increased powers to English and Welsh MPs and change the legislative process, adding new stages for England, or England and Wales MPs only.