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Waterloo 2017 style

Published on June 15, 2017

Pop music in the Seventies was the source of division between young and old. Now it’s multi-generational albeit it has multiplied its genres, and spawned sub-genres and sub-sub genres. The Eurovision song contest has been going long enough for it to be a family affair and our children are as likely to have Abba on their playlist as Conchita Wurst. Perhaps Abba’s hit was on Theresa May’s mind on Friday when her first speech could have been summed up as “I feel like I win when I lose”.

Maybe this shared heritage could go further and Dad’s baritone accompaniment to his daughter’s happy trilling of Waterloo could lead to a less tuneful sharing of the two elections in the year that Abba triumphed? The general election of February 1974 was Ted Heath’s attempt to secure a mandate following his success in the referendum that had approved our “Brentry”. But he failed to win a majority. The country had been in economic turmoil for several years due to the Gulf oil crisis, which had intensified the battle between Capital and Labour because there was less to share, and led to the miners’ strike and the three day week. The Liberals did well, but only secured 12 seats; and they and the Ulster Unionists made demands which Heath couldn’t meet. Harold Wilson couldn’t form a government either so a second election was called in which the SNP won 30% of the Scottish vote and Labour squeaked home with a majority of three over the newly anointed Margaret Thatcher.

As Anni-frid and Agnetha sang, history does have a habit of repeating itself. Why is that? What happened is there for all to see and yet Mrs May insists that she will continue in Government for five years. Has she not learned what happened? Does she think that it will be different this time? That’s a common reaction I find when talking with businesses about how their future plans. “I hear that some businesses raising money, especially equity, have had to reduce the forecasts which they made to secure the investment: the key contract fails to materialise, or takes too long to come on stream or is a lot less profitable than they think. I’m sorry that they had to re-finance, cut their salaries, lose key new hires or halve their equity holdings as a result. But we’re different”.

Everyone can learn from their own mistakes but it seems, despite the advice on offer, to be a real effort of will to learn from others what might happen. The current evidence for this frustrating state of affairs (and affairs of state) is currently residing in Downing St. Even the might of May has only a limited impact on events and, even though she is forecasting that she might not, the mighty May may fall, in June.