Coming to London for my semester abroad all anyone kept saying was, “What an exciting time to go and learn about UK politics. You will be there for when the UK leaves the EU.” Fast forward four months to April, my internship at Navigate Politics is ending, and the UK is still in the same place that it was in January and is still in the EU. I came at a time when politicians and civil servants were working overtime; while in the United States, my government, was not even working as it was then facing the longest government shutdown in US history stemming from Trump demanding federal funds for his wall.
So, how is it that two of the most powerful countries in the world with some of the largest economies came to be the laughing stock of the international political arena? How did a reality TV star without any political experience become President? How did the UK Government face the biggest Government defeat in the House of Commons in history? How did we get here and what does this mean for business?
In 2004, ten new countries joined the EU and the number of immigrants to the UK doubled at a time when household income had been severely impacted by the 2008 financial crisis.
Fast forward to January 2013, Prime Minister David Cameron, concerned by the loss of Conservative voters to UKIP, promised that if a Conservative government was reelected, he would hold a referendum on the UK’s membership of the EU. Cameron and most of the UK political establishment assumed that while the anti-EU lobby was noisy, it was merely just that – noise. They believed that the UK voters would choose to remain.
The political elite didn’t see Brexit coming, adding to the growing perception they are out of touch with the public: trapped in the glass bubble that is metropolitan London. This gap, somehow, needs to be addressed. The Brexit crisis and Trump’s victory highlight that democratic leaders have failed to appropriately respond to domestic issues both as policymakers and as communicators. Trump’s Presidency and Brexit are an economic and cultural revolt against globalization from an electorate seemingly indiscernible to the political and polling establishment.
The need for a bridge for social, domestic, and political issues to reach businesses, has become even more important but has also become seemingly harder to do, especially in multinational companies. Political monitoring services serve as the eyes and ears for these large companies and businesses have realized that in today’s world it is getting tougher for them to stay above the political fray. Nowadays, corporate leaders cannot afford to be silent on political issues that may potentially impact their stakeholders. Parliament’s role in scrutinizing and holding the government to account is shifting and businesses are ever more being called to step in.
Political monitoring ensures that clients are positioned in a way they can respond to emerging issues and news. It permits companies to keep up with public opinion and the everchanging political climate within countries like the UK and US.
Ultimately, at the end of the day, it is quite simple: knowledge is power.