Blain’s Morning Porridge – Dec 11th 2019

Blain’s Morning Porridge  – December 11th 2019

“Bet your bottom dollar that tomorrow there’ll be sun!”

One day more….

As trade war mumbleswerves rumble on (no more tariff increases), the Impeachment case continues to build its own pointless momentum,  Aramco opens limit up (+10%) (Hint – sell!), and we get ready for Christine Lagarde facing the media after running her first ECB Meeting, all eyes are on the UK – our little island set in a silver sea –  where tomorrow we get to vote for the least bad of some very poor choices.

Suddenly, we have last minute wobbles in UK election predictions. Suddenly, the predicted Tory landslide may be less than expected.   Suddenly, a hung Parliament is, apparently, a “real” possibility. Suddenly, these long Sterling positions look very dangerous.  Suddenly, Labour party are eating into Conservative Support – or so says one poll.  Suddenly I see… the Great Game of British Self Flagellation might be extended for another 5 years or so. Joy oh Joy.. !

Please remove all sharp objects from my desk if it happens.

Of course, hungoparlphobia is exactly what they Tory strategists want us to fear most.  Scare the Bejesus out of us.  Present us with a shocking vision of five more years of excruciating Laura Kuenssberg opinions reports, Andrew Neil public vivisections, Naga and Charlie insulting guests on the Brek-drek couch.  Who would possibly not want that..? (The BBC and Channel 4 will love it – 5 more years of political indecision will ensure no one is asking them the hard questions about what they think their role is in elections. Should they merely report the news, or continue to set the news?)

Like it not, this election is a critical moment for the UK.  We can move forward and an elect a government no one (particularly me) is going to be particularly happy about, or we can continue to wallow in our ongoing collective cognitive dissonance over Brexit.  It’s really simple.  It’s not actually about parties, party politics or policies – good or bad as they might be. It’s about making a choice of having a government empowered to act, or not.

Imagine the future. 10-years time and the UK is doing much as it always does, and no one really remembers the Brexit nonsense. We’re still drinking French Wine and Proseco, skiing in the Alps, driving EVs designed in Germany and made in Sunderland, and spending summers in the Med. Or,  we’re still arguing about where to stay or leave. Take your pick.  The Europeans don’t care – they just want it done.

The horror of a shock defeat or hung-parliament is a narrative the Tories have been pushing since the start – raising the spectre of a small number of tactical voters in key constituencies stealing the election. The message is simple: if we Brits don’t vote Tory tomorrow then the UK will be trapped forever in a hung parliament, unable to move forward, and likely to suffer another 5 years of indecision, political vacuum and dither over Brexit.

That may be about the truest thing the Tories have said through the whole election.

Meanwhile, the opposition have done surprisingly well redirecting voter fears towards saving our beloved National Health Service.  In order to deny the Tories a chance to move forward, Labour – the party I naturally and have always supported – have redirected the debate down a pointless avenue about how the NHS isn’t safe in Tory hands. Without money and focus it’s not safe in anyone’s hands. A few well-placed front page stories to show the dismal state of the NHS, pin it on Tory indifference and suddenly it’s the number one issue for the electorate.

From a political perspective – well done Labour, snatching something back from the Tories. From the perspective of the UK Future’s – it’s a disaster. We now have an unholy alliance of voters who think a wrecking vote for a hung parliament – consigning the UK to five more years of directionless whittering in Parliament – means they get a chance to reverse the referendum and stay in Europe and save the NHS at the same time. Wrong.

Democracy really is a terrible way to run a country….

It would be easier to accept the need to vote for them if the Tories accompanied the Get-It-Done message with some really sensible initiatives on growth, trade, AI, Robotics, sellable polices about rebuilding social infrastructure, opening up and focusing education and making it free.  But that’s not the fight they chose to fight.

The NHS is a key matter –  it can no longer remain a sacred cow. Doctors and Nurses are the most valuable people in our society, and they will tell you the NHS needs reform, less management and more leadership, and funds redirected to get the elderly into long-term care rather than filling hospital beds and emergency rooms. A root and branch grub out of entrenched bureaucracy will do more to make it fit for purpose than screaming headlines. Reforming the Health Service will be a massive undertaking, and doesn’t for one moment mean privatising it – yet no UK political party has the bravery to address it.

Tomorrow’s UK election will be shockingly binary. Either:

· We move forward – which happens with a Conservative Majority, or

· We start the Brexit debate all over – which happens under a hung parliament, a Labour led coalition or an unlikely Labour majority.

Buy or sell the UK and Sterling on that basis.. The vote actually boils to down to the choosing a government that will govern and move the UK out of its current hole.  If we fail to do so, then don’t blame the politicians – blame ourselves.

Election Coverage

The plan for the Election here at Shard is going to be an all-nighter from 10-pm onwards. I’ll be putting out a stream of commentary on, and posting Porridge Specials early morning, a round up at 6.00 am and a final porridge comment at the usual time…

Five things to read today

FT – BlackRock firing: Wiseman’s exit shows moral compass leads way

FT – Sterling slips as poll raises prospect of hung UK parliament

Bberg – Johnson Grapples Backlash Over NHS With Two Days to Go

Bberg – The $11 Trillion Emerging-Markets Rally Has Big Backing for 2020

WSJ – BlackRock Favours US Government Debt Over Other Nations’ Amid Policy Pause


IBT – Elon Must is “Entitled, Arrogant”: Strategist Slams Tesla CEO as “Billionaire Bully”.

Out of time.. back to the day job…

Bill Blain

Shard Capital