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World Children's Day 2020

Written by Scott Reid, chief of staff
Edited by Kevin Pringle, partner
20 November 2020

Good morning,

Today is #WorldChildrensDay, marking 61 years since world leaders gathered at the UN General Assembly in New York to adopt the Declaration of the Rights of the Child.
 
2020 has been a momentous – if destructive – year for what it means to be a child globally. But here in Scotland, notwithstanding big structural problems still to address, there are signs that we are getting the approach right and so I wanted to use this morning’s intro to celebrate a few of them.
 
While Covid has threatened the childhood experience in ways we hadn’t expected, activists for children’s rights across Scotland have stuck to the task in hand.
 
Before lockdown, in February, the Independent Care Review concluded a monumental process of listening to thousands of care experienced children, adults and workers to recommend a revolution in how our systems better protect the most vulnerable in our society. Since then, the review’s chair, Fiona Duncan, has led the campaign to keep the Promise and make sure that our governors, and not children and families, are responsible for the failings in our system.
 
In September, the Scottish Government committed to incorporating the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child into Scots law, following a campaign led by children and UNICEF Scotland. That movement stated our ambition to be among the best countries in the world to grow up in, and – along with measures like this month’s smacking ban – will soon give it the full heft of our laws.

Communities are also impatient to make the changes for themselves. And for a glimpse into what that looks like, I can heartily recommend a read through the Voices blog series of The Robertson Trust – with whom Charlotte Street Partners works – as organisations roll out the Trust’s bold ten-year strategy which was launched in October to focus on poverty and trauma, particularly during childhood.

And just last night we saw in literary form the power that a story of childhood spent in Scotland can have globally. Attracting unanimous support from the judges, Shuggie Bain by Douglas Stuart, the autobiographical debut novel of a childhood spent in poverty in Glasgow during the 1980s, made history as the latest winner of the Booker Prize.

That Stuart’s story holds equally true for many families in 2020 should give us pause for thought. Meanwhile, across a country in lockdown, what it means to be a child has changed utterly. Children are impatient, and rightly so, to retain or regain their rights to play freely with their friends, be educated in school and, in some cases, be protected from harm at home. When I asked a war-experienced colleague what she thought the impact of all this might be on our future generations, her answer was daunting: “We will know in 10 or 15 years”.

So clearly there is a long way to go yet. But on this World’s Children Day, I say we can applaud those who are fighting to improve the approach.

News

A leaked report by an official inquiry has found home secretary Priti Patel guilty of breaching the ministerial code by bullying civil servants. Patel is expected to apologise for “not always [meeting] the high standards” required by ministers but falling short of resigning, a move rejected by the prime minister.
 
The WHO has advised against the prescription of remdesivir to treat Covid-19, despite being approved by US regulators last month. Writing in the British Medical Journal, an expert WHO panel cited no evidence that the drug improves survival, based on four randomised trials involving more than 7,000 patients.
 
And in the US, President-elect Biden has officially won the state of Georgiafollowing a recount in the presidential ballot. Meanwhile, The New York Timesreports that President Trump is exploring how Republican legislatures in states that endorsed Biden, including Michigan, could disregard the vote as fraudulent, in a move considered highly unlikely to be successful.

Business and economy

One in three restaurants, bars and hotels expect that they may have to close permanently within the next three months as the hospitality sector is hit by the impact of continuing lockdown. According to the Office for National Statistics, 34% of accommodation and food businesses had little or no confidence that they would continue operations beyond January, compared to 14% of British businesses overall.
 
The CMA has taken full control of a review into the proposed £32bn merger of Virgin Media and O2, accelerating when a final decision is expected to mid-2021. The deal had previously been scrutinised by the European Commission, but has been handed over as the first of a series of complex merger control cases affecting UK companies as the end of the Brexit transition period nears.

And China’s economic recovery from Covid-19 is expected to dent its ambition to reach net-zero by 2060. Due to the large amount of coal required to operate, double digit increases in production of the country’s steel, aluminium and cement industries suggest China is now on course to account for 53% of global coal-generated power this year, where the share burned by the rest of the world is expected to fall by 12%, making the country’s net zero targets “near impossible”.

Columns of note

In the Financial Times, Henry Mance documents how the Brexit debate has changed Scotland’s views on the prospect of independence. He concludes that the approach to Brexit, rather than the outcome, has been pivotal in undermining the unionist case for remaining within the UK. (£)
 
And in the New Yorker, Robin Wright speculates what measures a vengeful Donald Trump, having lost the presidential election, might push through during his last days in office. She comments that Trump has long believed that a strong man’s approach to foreign affairs in particular is the best way to secure his place in the history books, and this could take the form of a last minute military intervention in Iran. (£)

Cartoon source: The Times

Markets

What happened yesterday?

London’s FTSE was down 0.8% yesterday at 6334.35 points as Covid-19 case numbers continued to rise despite lockdowns across the UK. Sterling also fell 0.38% on the dollar at $1.32 and by 0.28% on the euro at €1.12. 
 
On the equity markets, oil, mining and banking stocks suffered with the supermarket sector up on the session. Morrisons (+3.11%) was near the top of the day’s risers while NP (-3.25%) and SSE (-3.13%) neared the bottom of the list.
 
In company news:

What’s happening today?

Finals
Sage Group
Urban&civic

AGMs
Base Resources
Crystal Amber
Diurnal Grp
Gstechnologies
Mc Mining
Salt Lake Pot

Interims
Argentex Group.
Fusion Antibody
The Panoply Ho.

UK Economic Announcements
(00:01) GFK Consumer Confidence
(07:00) Public Sector Net Borrowing
(07:00) Retail Sales

Int. Economic Announcements
(07:00) Producer Price Index (GER)

Source: Financial Times

did you know

In 2017, The Economist argued that opening all borders and allowing free movement of people would generate an extra $78 trillion for the global economy.

Source: @qikipedia

Parliamentary highlights

House of Commons

No business scheduled

House of Lords 

No business scheduled

Scottish Parliament 

No business scheduled

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