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The Financial Ironmonger Blog No 24/2017

The Financial Ironmonger Blog No 24/2017

Every week our guest blogger, David Oakes of Mosaic Money Management (aka The Financial Ironmonger), shares with us his take on some of the major UK and overseas macro and political events that shaped the previous week.

Please be reminded the value of investments, and the income from them, may fall or rise. The views expressed in this article are those of the author at the date of publication and not necessarily those of Chelverton Asset Management Limited or Mosaic Money Management. The contents of this article are not intended as investment or tax advice and will not be updated after publication unless otherwise stated.

–THE FINANCIAL IRONMONGER BLOG NO 51–

Another week and another totally predictable, and preventable disaster; following on the back of the election, and the London Bridge terrorist outrage, we now have a high-rise building consumed by fire, leading to significant loss of life. It would appear that previous warnings were totally ignored although trying to pin down any responsibility will prove difficult, as it always is with these things.

Both the Prime Minister, and the Leader of the Opposition visited the scene of the disaster on Thursday. The former described her visit as “private”, and failed to engage with any of the people who survived, or the volunteers there to help them. The whole idea that you can visit the site of one of the largest disasters in the country’s post-war history is preposterous; she went in her capacity as Prime Minister.

Contrast this with Jeremy Corbyn, who spent a considerable amount of time with the people on the ground, displaying genuine sympathy and empathy. The difference could not be more stark, which leads me to withdraw my suggestion, at the end of the last blog, that another general election is imminent, proving that we are all capable of performing U- turns. Unless one is forced on them by events, it is not going to happen because they know they would lose, and do so very badly.

It is worth looking at what went so wrong with the Conservative campaign, although many of these observations apply, in part, to the SNP, and the Liberals. The biggest mistake was to actually call the election, which was neither needed or wanted., and was nothing more than a blatant power grab, dressed up as giving her a stronger hand in the Brexit negotiations. Presumably her hand is now much weaker, not something she is keen to acknowledge.

The SNP thought that they could use it to strengthen their case for a second referendum on independence, ignoring the fact that the vast majority of voters did not want one, and were more interested in examining their ten year record of governance, which is lacking in both healthcare, and education. Nicola Sturgeon, their leader, is left to contemplate that if independence happens, it will not be under her leadership, and probably not in her lifetime.

The Liberals decided that the election was a perfect excuse to re-fight the Brexit referendum, reasoning that since 48% voted against, they would automatically support some sort of political acquiescence. All three parties were wrong; there was no appetite for any further polls, so people either stayed at home, or threw their vote at Corbyn, thinking him unelectable, a mistake made before.

The manifesto contained some grown up thinking on social care, an issue which needs tackling, but it came with a threat to remove the guarantee to increase pensions, and to reduce, or withdraw, the Winter Fuel Allowance. Ironically, these measures would have benefited the less well off, but they were never explained, and thus a significant part of natural Conservative voters were left confused.

Historians will long debate whether it was the messenger, or the message, that cost them so dearly, but as illustrated above, I think it is the former. I am sure that Theresa has many fine qualities, which might have driven her to the top of the Civil Service, but I see no recovery from her present position.

Meanwhile, Brexit negotiations start next week, from a much diminished background. The outcome of the election would indicate that a less extreme outcome is now more likely, but predicting anything these days is fraught with problems.

–MORE ABOUT OUR GUEST BLOGGER, DAVID OAKES–

David joined Manchester stockbroker Henry Cooke, Lumsden in 1977 and after becoming a member of the London Stock Exchange in 1984 held a number of senior positions within the firm including Managing Director of the in-house fund management company and member of the Executive Committee.

After senior appointments at Cazenove Fund Management and latterly Mercater Capital Management, David joined Mosaic Money Management in 2013. He has successfully managed private client and fund portfolios for over thirty years and has particular expertise in providing a multi manager service to his loyal client base.

The Financial Ironmonger is a hat-tip to Ironmonger Lane, the location of Chelverton’s London office.