When the Trump presidency starts next Friday, the business community won’t be alone in wondering what happens next.

During the transition from President Obama to President Trump, economic indicators have generally been up on both sides of the Atlantic. Here the FTSE 100 has had its longest run of successive all-time peaks since it was set up in 1984. One of the reasons is Donald Trump’s commitment to increase infrastructure spending across the United States. Any business traveller will know The Donald is on to something here. Most of America’s airports are tired compared to their gleaming counterparts in Asia and the Middle East. It is the same with US roads and rail. It is the penalty Americans are paying for being first to embrace the car revolution in the post war years.

SME confidence is also strong in the UK. It rose from 2.9 to 8.5 in the last quarter according to the Federation of Small Business. Is this a spill over effect from Trump’s plans when he comes into office? Some economists believe that for every percentage point the US economy grows, advanced economies like the UK grow by 0.8%. The incoming President is planning tax cuts and increased defence spending as well as major infrastructure schemes that we have already discussed.

But business needs to be cautious. Trump is a loose cannon. We have already seen shares in pharmaceuticals crash as a result of the incoming President’s determination to repatriate manufacturing to the US. Bringing jobs home was a key election platform and has already led to Ford deciding to locate a car plant in Michigan instead of Mexico. Defence shares have also been hit by tweets sent out from Trump Tower.

Business will also be aware that the new President will be taking office with controversy swirling around his coiffured blonde hair. Has he done enough to distance himself from his global private interests? Is the team he has selected to run the great offices of state up to the job? Will he get the support of the Republican controlled Senate and House that the raw numbers suggest? Many don’t regard him as a real Republican. Then there is the personal stuff. Is he in thrall to the Russians over his peccadillos, and will he realise that he cannot run the United States by angry tweet.

Business on both sides of the pond have craved more business experience at the top of politics. Well the USA has got one and it will be fascinating to see if Trump can manage a political machine as well as he ran his boardroom. They are very different beasts.


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It is a dark time for people who believe in centre left politics, and it could get a whole lot darker.

Across Europe and America, the centre left is either out of political power or is under pressure from radical or authoritarian forces. The elderly crave for a world that has gone, the young are unemployed or running up debts from university or renting their accommodation. Forgive the generalisations. I know this is not true of everyone but I am trying to identify why the centre left is under pressure.

Some look to reactionary forces represented by UKIP in Britain, the Front National in France or The Donald in America. When people find that Brexit doesn’t deliver “yesterday”, the immigration crisis doesn’t go away or it proves impossible to expel 11 million illegals from the USA, what will they do? Give centre left politics another chance? That is unlikely. The anger levels already high (watch any Trump rally) will look for even more authoritarian solutions.

All the while this European and American anger is being goaded by terrorists who see the spiral of action and reaction working beautifully. That is why the sight of French police surrounding a Muslim lady wearing a burkini is so serious. That will be playing well in Raqqa.

The centre left is particularly in trouble in the UK. The Labour Party will be unelectable for a long time but the moderate MPs still show few signs of realising their predicament. Their continuing antagonism to Liberal Democrats and Greens seems absurd in the desperate situation they find themselves in.

However there is a shaft of light. This weekend sees the publication of a book with the title “The Alternative: Towards a New Progressive Politics”. Its editors are Liberal Democrat Chris Bowers, Green MP Caroline Lucas and Wigan MP Lisa Nandy. The two women are amongst the most able of their generation and the fact that they have come together to chart a possible way forward for progressive politics is a start.

It remains possible that the Brexit negotiations will not be concluded before 2020. It is essential that all the political forces who believe that we should stay in the EU are lined up to make the 2020 election, in effect, a second referendum. The SNP, Lib Dems, Greens and hopefully a New Democrats Party must ally together. It won’t be easy to do but the work should start at this autumn’s conferences.


We all congratulate our athletes on their magnificent achievements in Rio. We must also congratulate Manchester on moving with characteristic speed to host the victory parade when the London mayor seemed uncertain.

But when the champagne corks have popped for the last time we need to look at the strategy that has developed of investing millions in elite athletes whilst neglecting school sport.

One of the most stupid things the Coalition government did in its early days was to scrap funding for the Schools Sports Partnerships which had the potential to do a great deal to foster participation and fitness for all.

We need to see resources put in at school and community level so there is less reliance on volunteers, more paid staff, more indoor facilities, an end to selling off playing fields for development and more time in the curriculum for physical education.

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