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  • Lawrence Bailey

Battle lines drawn, but are they in the right place?

A few weeks ago, I predicted in this column that a general election was looming. Let’s be honest though, it’s not like it was an inspired guess.

The parliamentary impasse we’ve seen in recent times was always going to give way to a battle via the ballot box – and it already has the signs of being a brutal contest.

It’s noticeable how there’s only been passing reference to opinion polls so far. Maybe it’s because they’ve proved so inaccurate in the past. Or perhaps they just don’t mean as much as they once did.

A consequence of our arcane electoral system is that while 650 seats are notionally up for grabs, the main action happens within 50-60 marginals where small majorities can be ‘swung’ one way or another.

However, Brexit has introduced a different demographic. Leave and Remain hot-spots now also need to be factored in by strategists looking to use limited resources to maximum effect.

You can add a further complexity to all this which is the mixed messages coming from the political parties – along with the ‘complicated’ Marmite relationship that main groups seems to have with their respective leaders.

As much as politicians would dearly like to portray matters as a straightforward case of voting for a specific outcome, the electorate have long sussed how this is seldom the case, especially when it comes to Brexit.

No wonder then that a significant number of MPs and candidates think the electoral cart has been put before the horse, and that a second referendum would have been a better way of resolving matters.

They may have a point, but while opinions about the EU have changed over the last three and a bit years, they have also hardened considerably too, on both sides. It’s possible that a government with a working majority will emerge in December. However, it’s equally likely that nothing of the sort happens.

What will inevitably follow is precisely the same kind of turgid power-brokering and stranglehold politics that a general election was supposed to resolve.

All which probably means that whatever our demands and expectations as electors about hospitals, schools and policing, the answers – and the funding - will be just as elusive as they are now. ------------ Working out what makes us better

There used to be a jokey sign that hung in a former workplace of mine that read “Floggings will continue until morale improves”.

This typical bit of Brit humour raised the odd smile but even then it avoided addressing the puzzle as to why UK business productivity lags so badly behind European and Asian competitors.

Some would put it down to disparities in income and job security. Poor motivation and haphazard management training is also regularly cited.

One undeniable factor however is having a fit, healthy and happy workforce. Once seen as a fringe issue in business plans, it’s amazing how ‘well-being’ is fast becoming a core consideration for delivering improvements in output and quality.

Proponents insist that fostering employee well-being is good for people and the organisation. It can help prevent stress and enable a business to thrive.

This approach will be under the spotlight at the next SA1 Waterfront Business Club free event on 7 November. It’s hosted by UWTSD at their impressive new IQ Building.

Visit for more details

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