I remember when seat belts and breathalysers were regarded as a gross infringement of motorist’s freedom. Smoke filled offices and pubs are of more recent memory. Car drivers using mobile phones seem to be getting the message. In all these cases public opinion swiftly changed so that unbelted drivers texting at the wheel before drinking 4 pints in a pub now attract full scale public opprobrium.

Although a different issue, I believe that the campaign against single use plastic is rapidly taking off and very soon businesses that ignore the public’s demand to be more environmentally friendly will be in the minority. It will be cool to be plastic free or at least plastic less.

It was a point I put to the mayor of Greater Manchester at a BBC sustainability event this week. Andy Burnham is convening a summit shortly where he wants to get over the message to business that sustainability need not be another red tape burden but an opportunity. For instance, the retro fitting of Greater Manchester’s houses could create 50,000 jobs to insulate them. He wants the Combined Authority to beat the government’s target to be carbon neutral by 2050 by ten years. But he wants business to come up with the ideas. He says the days of political leaders setting targets with no idea about how they will be achieved are over.

It was significant that it was a BBC event because their Blue Planet series really sparked this change in attitude to plastic when the degree of pollution in our oceans was revealed.

It will be a challenge for the North’s large chemical industry but a spokesman at the conference for one of the chemical companies seemed prepared to embrace it. He said firms could use vegetable oils and investigate novel materials like algae.

Good for him, industry and the green movement need to work together.


Brexiteers regale us with the opportunities presented by our new global partners and the importance of China can’t be overlooked. But there was a major development in that country this week that we should all note. After the tyranny of Chairman Mao, the Chinese limited their leaders to two terms in office. Xi Jinping, the President of China has decided to scrap that and so could rule indefinitely.

It seems for the moment that those who had hoped that economic growth would be accompanied with more democracy in China are going to be disappointed.


As a supporter of a Division 1 team who can only gaze at the pots of gold enjoyed by the Premier League, can you forgive me with being a little irritated by Premier League fans bleating about inconvenient kick off times decreed by the TV companies. You Premier League fans enjoy the benefits of being able to sign the best players because of the money received from TV. The piper is entitled to call the tune.

Follow me @JimHancockUK





Donald Trump will be the Republican’s Presidential nominee. Bernie Sanders is giving Hilary Clinton a real fright in the race for the Democrat’s nomination. Jeremy Corbyn astonished the commentators with his victory last year in the Labour leadership contest. The Austrians have just chosen a radical green candidate for President over a far right alternative. The middle of the road Austrian parties were nowhere to be seen.

All this tells us that there is deep disillusionment with conventional politicians. People don’t believe they have the answers. Why is this? I think the underlying economic reason is that Europe and North America are mature economies now. The post war boom when we dominated the world is long gone. Children will no longer be richer than their parents because the easy economic gains are no longer available. The global economy means that developing countries are, rightly, taking a bigger share of the cake. They are building the ships, finishing textiles, producing the raw materials. We have to focus on sophisticated added value goods at the high end of technology and intellectual property.

Economies are subject to global forces. No individual politician can promise to resist. Their power is diminished but they keep on promising and disillusionment has set in. At the moment the party system in Britain remains intact but it is not fit for purpose. We need a four party system in England, not two. Conservative right, Conservative left, hard left and a centre left could end the frustration people feel at the moment.

More immediately the American political system is under strain. Donald Trump should really be running as an independent, the Republican Party may not survive his candidature. Sanders styles himself as a socialist. Perhaps America needs a Corbyn type party to offer a radical alternative to what many young American Democrats regard as the uninspiring position of Hilary Clinton.

Finally we must acknowledge that a contributor to the disillusionment is the internet and social media. It is right and welcome that there is a much wider discussion and scrutiny of politicians. It is also true that the commentary can be ill informed and destructive based on a belief that anyone in public office is on the make or self interested.

The current EU debate with its increasingly aggressive tone and overblown claims won’t be helping our increasingly fragile politicians.


Do you remember the huge debate over whether we should bomb Syria? The Prime Minister got his way. Reporters were dispatched to Cyprus to see the first planes fly out, then silence. Are we still bombing? How frequently and to what effect? The media caravan does move swiftly on.


The coverage of the Premier League really is disproportionate in our media. Division 1 and 2 is particularly badly covered. BBC Radio Five Live have been running a promo this weekend saying the domestic season is done and dusted. Well not for the Green Army it ain’t.

I support Plymouth Argyle who are off to Wembley on Monday for the Fourth (let’s call it what it is) Division Play Off Final. 40,000 members of the Green Army may be there with a sizeable contingent from AFC Wimbledon. How much coverage will we get in the national papers and on Radio Five Live?

Not much if the coverage of our semi final duel with Portsmouth is anything to go by. Over thirty thousand people watched the two legs between these old dockyard rivals, yet barely a mention on national radio and TV.

The nation will want The Wombles to continue their fairytale rise to play Milton Keynes (let’s call them what they are) in Div 3 (let’s call it what it is) next year, but I’m hoping for victory for the Green Army.




You don’t get me, I’m part of the union.”

On Monday the government will introduce in parliament the biggest crack down on the trade unions in thirty years. Len McCluskey’s Unite union is up for the challenge. The General Secretary will spend the weekend at the Trades Union Congress testing support for his call to break the law to resist the Tories plans.

The issue will be an interesting test for the new Labour leader. To support or oppose particular strikes has been one of the most difficult problems for Labour leaders for decades. Barbara Castle crossed the unions in the 1960s, Jim Callaghan’s government was brought down by them in 1979, Neil Kinnock’s discomfort over Arthur Scargill’s miners strike in 1984/5 is the stuff of legend and Ed Miliband’s refusal to take sides became a joke on You Tube.

The reason why the party, created by the unions, has agonised over the issue of union power is because it has feared losing moderate voters. It is this equivocation that has dismayed the left, and particularly the young. During the leadership election they have surged back to Labour in the expectation of more crusading policies. Their argument is that if the party fights with conviction for working people, more will join, Middle England will be overwhelmed and a socialist Labour Party will sweep to power in 2020. The battle over the Trade Union bill will be a first test.

The measure will make unlawful a strike unless 50% of those being asked to strike, vote in the ballot. 40% of those asked to vote must support the strike in key public services. The strike mandate will only last four months Unlawful picketing will become a criminal, not civil, offence. Most controversial of all is the right being given to employers to hire agency staff to break the strike. The Labour Party’s finances are set to be hit with a further provision to require union members to positively agree to pay the political levy.

The number of working days lost to strike action in the 12 months to April was 704,000, a far cry from the 13 million a year in the 70s. However there have been a number of strikes on the London Underground and in schools causing major inconvenience to parents and commuters. This has been the trigger for ministers to act. What will New Old Labour do?


I attended the excellent global soccer business conference in Manchester this week and thought I would share with you a comment by a panellist. It came during a discussion about fans’ use of new media. Facebook and YouTube had come out of left field with nobody seeing what impact they would have It was noted that some football clubs had given up trying to stop fans taking mobile phone shots of matches and embraced the clips on their websites.

Then the prediction of the next big thing, fans resistance to being the falls guys in the war between Sky and BT for TV soccer rights. As was correctly observed the poor fan now has to pay two huge monthly fees to get full match coverage. Who could stop this? Well perhaps Apple will come to the fans rescue, wipe out BT and Sky and unify the package at a cheaper price. Just a thought.







I pose the question because of the sacking of David Moyes. An issue that has had at least the same amount of coverage as David Cameron’s fall will eventually attract. Even the staid Today programme on Radio 4 kept having items from Old Trafford awkwardly introduced by John Humphrys.


In football the personality of the manager is almost always crucial to success. They need to have a knowledge of the game and man management in equal measure. A media persona also helps. It didn’t always. Sir Alf Ramsey had as much charisma as Clement Attlee but both understated men had enormous success. The former led us to World Cup victory, the latter led Labour to its landslide triumph in 1945. But that was in the age before rolling news.


Now managers have to feed the hungry news beast. Jose Mourinho, the Chelsea boss has this off to a tee. But David Moyes looked haunted from the start. His excuses became repetitive. He looked overwhelmed.

So are United now going to join all the other clubs, bar Arsenal in a constant managerial Merry go round. The fans like this constant change. So says Alyson Rudd, a football columnist with The Times. Do they? Is it actually good for clubs to change their manager every three years are so? Is it good for business to have constant changes in leadership? Let’s remember we used to praise Manchester United for sticking with Sir Alex Ferguson even when the times were bad around 1990.


Sir Terry Leahy had fourteen years at the top of Tesco. He’s been gone three years now and last week’s figures weren’t so good. Is that because Leahy is not in charge or because the economics of superstores is changing?


Do critics of David Cameron’s leadership take into account that he has no majority and came to power in very difficult economic circumstances? Do critics of David Moyes take into account that he was handed a team past its sell by date and with the old boss still around the boardroom. There is also the inevitable cycle that afflicts football and business. No team or company can always be at the top.


The pressure to succeed takes its toll, the product goes out of fashion, and succession planning fails.

Sir Alex Ferguson will have some explaining to do at the Harvard Business School where is now a guest lecturer. Continuity in business and football management is hard. When United last screwed up their succession planning, it was nearly twenty years before Sir Alex came on the scene. For business and football, once you are knocked off the top, it can be a long way back. Liverpool fans know that.


We don’t just need to look in the Premiership. Sean Dyche has just taken Burnley back to the Premiership. He’s one to watch. Meanwhile at Leeds United the lesson that you can be a long tome away from glory is still being learnt. Just because you make one mistake with business leadership, doesn’t mean you can’t fail again and again and again. Good luck with Massimo Cellino, United.