Best of British

Best of British

Oliver Foster

If you’re a sucker for some positive spin for breakfast (I sure am – I need all the help I can get in the mornings!), then this morning was a very good morning.

Apart from the announcement of yet another 4 day Bank Holiday for next year’s Diamond Jubilee – Pagefield can’t really claim credit for the holiday itself, but we are in charge of PR’ing the Thames Diamond Jubilee flotilla, the biggest in over 300 years! – I was struck this morning by how many positive reports had been published about the future health of the British economy.

HSBC’s ‘The Future of Business 2011’ painted a remarkably positive vision of 7 key economic hubs emerging across the UK, not necessarily as contenders for London’s throne as the engine of the UK economy, but as centres in their own right of specialised industries. Bristol and Glasgow in particular have grabbed the headlines for being new centres of advanced manufacturing and renewable energy businesses respectively. According to HSBC, “Change is definitely on the cards. Sixty-two per cent of business leaders believe that Britain will increasingly stand for ‘innovation and entrepreneurship’ compared with 46% previously. It is evident that in a decade’s time we will have seen a redrawing of the industrial map of the UK”. That’s pretty strong stuff amidst all this doom and gloom to which we’ve become so accustomed. The cynics will say that this is just PR guff and HSBC’s way of trying to show it cares about more than just the financial services. But for me the fact that it’s based on what 500 diverse business leaders think is happening to the economy, then surely it can’t be so easily dismissed?!

Similarly, I’m never going to argue with the UK’s ‘Twitchers’ who welcomed today’s report stating that our green and pleasant land is in fact worth billions of pounds to the economy. We’re so fortunate to be surrounded by immense beauty in this country – well, in most parts anyway! We touch, feel and see nature every day, but nowhere before in the world has a price been put on its full value to a country’s economy – and now we know, for instance, that the benefits to our health of merely living near a green space are worth up to £300 per person per year. The report’s been well PR’d but some have given it some stick for being too fluffy – I must admit that there is a touch of the ‘infinitesimal’ to nature’s overall value to our economy – but as the RSPB itself said: “The traditional view of economic growth is based on chasing GDP, but in fact we will all end up richer and happier if we begin to take into account the true value of nature”.

So perhaps the Chancellor’s “Made in Britain” aspirations are starting to take shape. The underlying economic picture remains challenging, but what stories like these help to do is start to challenge the economic doomsayers, and whilst today was a good day for positive spin (and long weekends), above all it was a good day for feeling just that little bit more positive about the future value of UK plc. Priceless!