Wanted: Stock investors with time and money to support profitable, well-run companies

“Corporate managers get the shareholders they deserve.” That old saying has rarely been more important. In today’s corporate proxy battles, when the margin of victory can be slight, managers and shareholders alike are subject to control by thin majorities. That’s why savvy corporate leaders sculpt their shareholder base. 

How? One way is via the bully pulpit, to deter shareholders unaligned with corporate philosophy. For example, at a Starbucks
 shareholders meeting, CEO Howard Schultz once told a critic of the company’s hiring practices to sell the stock. In a letter to shareholders of The Washington Post Co., CEO Don Graham once stressed the company’s long-term outlook, adding: “If you are a shareholder and YOU care about our quarterly results, perhaps you should think about selling the stock.”

Besides hectoring to deter, many corporate practices are useful in attracting a certain shareholder base, one that is both patient and focused. This cohort was dubbed by Warren Buffett as “high quality shareholders” (QSs for short). While not rubber-stamps for incumbent directors or strategies, their voting records suggest a focus that makes them more knowledgeable than indexers or proxy advisers, and a patience that makes them more willing than transient shareholders to credit and support long-term thinking. 

Evidence shows an association between high densities of QSs in a company and the managerial quest for superior corporate performance. Why? One possibility is that QSs are drawn to companies which boast competitive advantages that boost performance and deflect rivals’ threats. Often referred to as “moats,” these include economies of scale, distribution systems, patents, network effects and brand strength. 

Rankings of some 500 companies by moat strength are regularly tallied by investment researcher Morningstar, and rankings of some 2,000 companies by QS density have been developed by the Quality Shareholder Initiative at George Washington University.

Comparing 200 companies common to both lists, one-third of the Morningstar moats are in the top 10% of the QSI ranking, two-thirds are in the top 25%; and the overwhelming majority — almost 90% — are in the top half. In other words, the data confirm widely known anecdotal evidence that moats attract QSs.   

Leaders in both moat strength and QS density

Among moats, brand strength appears to be a particular magnet for QSs. There is a strong association between managers regarded as the best stewards of great brands and QSI rankings. For instance, among U.S. managers ranked in the global elite for brand guardianship, a total of 38 executives, all but one are in the top half of the QSI rankings. In short, managers wishing to attract more QSs should invest in brand strength and other moats.

Leaders in both brand strength and QS density

A more intriguing reason why high densities of QSs are associated with corporate outperformance is that the QS cohort is itself a source of competitive advantage, akin to network effects.  These arise when a system’s value increases as more people use it.  In most cases, network effects represent a tangible benefit to customers, as with fax machines in the old days and social media today.  

Similar advantages can arise from a network of QSs. As a group, QSs are more likely than other major shareholder cohorts — such as indexers or transients — to care about the identity of fellow shareholders. This “birds of a feather” effect is visible among the companies held by leading QSs, such as those listed below.

Leading QSs that may draw fellow QSs 

Baker Brothers

Baupost Group

Berkshire Hathaway

 Blue Harbour

Cantillon Capital     

Capital Research Global

Fiduciary Management

Gates Foundation

Kensico Capital

Lone Pine Capital

Southeastern Asset Management

Temasek Holdings

Companies tap into the broader QS ecosystem, where members tend to know one another or know of one another. Resulting network effects reinforce all the advantages of a high-density QS base of patient and knowledgeable shareholders.

The QS cohort may also help brand a company. After all, consumer brands become competitive advantages when they assure that consumers recognize product features. A corporate reputation for attracting QSs is a competitive advantage when a company repeatedly commits to the values patient focused shareholders appreciate, including long-term performance metrics and rational capital allocation policies. 

To reach patient and focused individual QSs, many companies cultivate reputations among both consumers and shareholders. Examples include Churchill Downs
 , where shareholders enjoy many racing days throughout the year and enthusiastic support of the Kentucky Derby day; Harley-Davidson
 , where shareholders ride their “hogs” in caravans to the annual meeting, and others whose brands and owners focus on particular sustainability commitments, such as Patagonia.  

Whatever explains the association between high densities of QSs and corporate outperformance, managers and companies alike benefit from having many QSs on the shareholder list. When ownership of corporate equity is dominated, as it is today, by unfocused indexers and impatient traders, such a cohort of QSs will often be the swing vote in corporate proxy battles. Properly courted and catered to, these loyal shareholders can determine the outcome of elections, as well as the course of corporate prosperity. 

Lawrence A. Cunningham is a professor and director of the Quality Shareholders Initiative at George Washington University.  He owns shares of Berkshire Hathaway. His new book is Quality Shareholders: How the Best Managers Attract and Keep Them.  Register for his upcoming free book talk hosted by the Museum of American Finance and Fordham University here.

More: Here’s evidence that putting customers and employees first turns out to be profitable for a company’s stockholders too

Plus: Warren Buffett knows these are the best investors to follow with your own money

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Support Active People, Healthy Nation by Empowering Youth to Get Moving

The Active People, Healthy Nation initiative from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has a mission of helping 27 million Americans become physically active and “creating an active America, together.”

There are three distinct elements involved in reaching that 27 million milestone: (1) inspiring inactive individuals to perform at least one 10-minute session of moderate-intensity physical activity each week, (2) motivating people who are already somewhat active to perform enough physical activity to meet the minimum aerobic physical activity guidelines and (3) empowering youth to be physically active for at least 60 minutes every day.

The third of those three elements addresses an age group that has seen consistent declines in physical activity participation in recent decades, for various reasons. In most of the U.S., youth have been negatively impacted by the decline in physical-activity requirements in schools. Around the globe, this is coupled with an increase in sedentary recreational activities like viewing social media and streaming video, computer gaming, and watching television.  

Youth can achieve substantial health benefits by performing bouts of moderate- and vigorous-intensity physical activity that add up to 60 minutes or more each day. This should include cardiorespiratory activities as well as age-appropriate muscle- and bone-strengthening exercises. Bone-strengthening activities are especially critical for children and young adolescents, because the greatest gains in bone mass occur during the period just before and during puberty.

Behaviors established at a young age have a high probability of persisting into adulthood. Of course, this cuts both ways. While it’s true that physically inactive youth are likely to remain inactive into adulthood, the opposite is also true, as active youth are likely to remain active as they get older. This is why it’s so important for adults—including health coaches and exercise professionals, as well as parents and other caregivers—to model enjoyable and consistent physical activity.

Inspiring children to be more active requires understanding the child and their interests and motivations. While recreational and competitive sports are a great way to provide opportunities to be active, for some children, especially those whose motor skills are less developed or who have overweight or obesity, the competitive atmosphere can be defeating. You can have a positive impact on a child’s perception of exercise by ensuring that activities are fun for the child and appeal to their unique interests. For example, a child interested in science may enjoy a hike to collect flower or rock specimens, while a child with a high sense of adventure may enjoy bouldering or rock climbing. Activities like dancing, bouncing on a trampoline and riding a bike or skateboard are all fun ways to increase cardiorespiratory activity.

Encourage children to try new modalities and experiment as they look for activities they find pleasurable. It is important that children understand that exercise involves simply moving the body and that everyone can enjoy movement.

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Bledisloe Cup 2020, Wallabies vs All Blacks, rugby news: Nick Farr-Jones says Australia shouldn’t support BLM

Former Wallabies captain Nick Farr-Jones has urged Australia to not take a knee in support of the Black Lives Matter movement because the team would risk losing viewers.

The Wallabies are considering kneeling before the third match of the Bledisloe Cup, which will see the team also wear its new Indigenous-designed First Nations jersey.

“It’s great that sport has an amazing opportunity to have a say and join conversations, a lot of sports have done that and it would be a great thing for us to do,” Dane Haylett-Petty said on Wednesday about the Wallabies supporting BLM.

Watch every match of the 2020 Bledisloe Cup & Tri Nations Live & On-Demand on Kayo. New to Kayo? Get your 14-day free trial & start streaming instantly

Nick Farr-Jones as he is presented the Rugby World Cup trophy by Queen Elizabeth II.
Nick Farr-Jones as he is presented the Rugby World Cup trophy by Queen Elizabeth II.Source: News Corp Australia

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Pope Francis pushes new boundaries and expresses support for same-sex civil unions

Pope Francis has broken with tradition in a new documentary released this week by expressing support for same-sex civil unions, in some of the clearest language he has used in relation to the rights of LGBTQ people.

“Homosexual people have a right to be in a family,” he says in the documentary, Francesco, by Oscar-nominated director Evgeny Afineevsky.

“What we have to create is a civil union law. That way they are legally covered. I stood up for that,” he said.

When he was archbishop of Buenos Aires, Pope Francis opposed legislation to approve same sex marriage but supported legal protections for the rights of gay couples.

Papal biographer Austen Ivereigh told Reuters that the Pope’s comments in the film were some of the clearest language the pontiff has used on the subject since his election in 2013.

Attitude has ‘massively changed’

The Pope, who early in his papacy made the now-famous “Who am I to judge?” remark about homosexuals trying to live a Christian life, spoke in a section of the film about Andrea Rubera, a gay man who with his partner adopted three children.

Mr Rubera says in the film that he went to a morning Mass at the Pope’s Vatican residence and gave him a letter explaining his situation.

He told the Pope that he and his partner wanted to bring the children up as Catholics in the local parish but did not want to cause any trauma for the children.

Mr Rubera says the Pope telephoned him several days later, telling him he thought the letter was “beautiful” and urging the couple to introduce their children to the parish but to be ready for opposition.

“His message and his advice was really useful because we did exactly what he told us. It’s the third year that they [the children] are on a spiritual path in the parish,” Mr Rubera says in the film.

The Catholic Church teaches that homosexual tendencies are not sinful but homosexual acts are. It teaches that homosexuals should be treated with dignity.

In 2013, Pope Francis said it was not his place to judge homosexuals and they should not be marginalised, but he also condemned the gay lobby as a “serious problem”.

The remarks — made to journalists as he flew back to Rome from a trip to Brazil — appeared to be more conciliatory towards homosexuals than his predecessor Benedict XVI.

“If someone is gay and seeks the Lord with good will, who am I to judge?” he said.

“The problem is not having this orientation, it is lobbying. That’s the most serious problem I think.”


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Covid: Wales’ lockdown job support gap ‘a barrier to firms’

Related Topics

  • Job Support Scheme (JSS)

media captionWhat do businesses think of the lockdown in Wales?

A gap between the start of Wales’ lockdown and the UK government’s new Job Support Scheme is a “significant barrier” for firms trying to survive, a business group has said.

A scheme to cover 67% of wages is not due to start until 1 November – just over a week after the firebreak starts.

The Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) urged the UK and Welsh governments to work together.

The Treasury said employers could use furlough until the end of October.

“There is no gap in funding between our schemes,” a spokesman said.

However, CBI Wales director Ian Price warned some people may fall between the cracks of furlough and the new Job Support Scheme (JSS).

Chancellor Rishi Sunak has declined to bring the JSS forward, but the Welsh Government said it offered to pay the difference in the cost of wage support of bringing the JSS forward a week.

The Welsh Government wrote to Mr Sunak asking if firms could access the scheme a week earlier.

In a letter to Mr Drakeford, Mr Sunak said he was “unable to bring the claims date for the expansion to the Jobs Support Scheme forward from 1 November to 23 October due to limitations in HMRC delivery times”.

He said employees who have been furloughed for at least three weeks in the past can be re-furloughed until 31 October.

However, people who have never been furloughed will not be covered.

The firebreak, which will see pubs, restaurants, cafes and non-essential shops shut, is due to start on Friday.

Conservative Welsh Secretary Simon Hart has accused First Minister Mark Drakeford of taking a decision that would cause people to lose their jobs.

What is the Job Support Scheme?

The JSS plans to cover 67% of workers wages in businesses that have been forced to close.

It pays up to a maximum of £2,100 a month and staff must be off for seven days to be eligible. Payments are due to begin in December.

It replaces furlough, which ends on 31 October and covered 80% of pay, with government paying 60% and employers 20%.

‘It’s an absolute dog’s dinner’

media captionSA Brain chief executive Alistair Darby: “The industry is running out of time rapidly”

Pubs, bars, restaurants and cafes have only been allowed to serve customers indoors since restrictions were lifted on 3 August.

From Friday they will close again, as the firebreak lockdown begins, and remain shut for 17 days.

Alistair Darby, CEO of brewery and pub chain Brains, which employs 1,400 people in Wales, said the pumps were being switched off again.

Mr Darby told Radio Wales more clarity was needed from the Welsh Government to stop businesses from trying to plug a wage gap, at a time no money was coming in.

“We have got to work out how to communicate to our staff what’s going to happen to them, and what support they are going to get in three days,” he said.

“It’s an absolute dog’s dinner.

“We’ve done everything that was asked of us to support the government in the fight of coronavirus… if they are going to shut us down again they need to do their bit and fast.”

‘We’ve only been open weeks’

image captionLandlady Sarah Hudson says she feels “alone” after having to shut again weeks after reopening following flood damage

The Bell at Skenfrith, Monmouthshire, was badly damaged after being flooded twice during storms in October and February.

After being unable to get builders on site during the pandemic, the hotel only reopened on 4 September, and is now having to close again.

Landlady Sarah Hudson said: “We’ve only been open weeks, it’s devastating.

“We were fully booked, we’ve had to cancel guests again… it’s really upsetting, it really doesn’t do much for our reputation as either flooded or shut down.”

Ms Hudson said she was determined for the business to survive, but did not want to have to take out any more loans: “I feel very much on my own.”

What have business groups said?

image copyrightGetty Images

image captionNon-essential shops will have to close, as well as venues, gyms and beauty salons

Ben Cottam of FSB Wales urged the UK government to “urgently respond” to Welsh Government’s request and said the offer to pay the cost of the extension was a “practical response”.

“The current one-week gap between the beginning of lockdown on the 23 October and the beginning of the Job Support Scheme is a significant barrier for businesses who are working incredibly hard to stay afloat,” he said.

“In order to inspire confidence in businesses at this difficult time, as well as help minimise uncertainty and remove as many of the hurdles that firms will be facing as possible, we urge UK and Welsh Government to work together in order to make this happen”.

Mr Price said: “It appears that some people may unfortunately being falling through the cracks of the JRS and JSS.

“It’s imperative for business, government and employees that we make this work.”

A Welsh Government spokesperson said: “We offered to pay the UK Government the difference in the cost of wage support of bringing the Job Support Scheme forward a week instead of relying on the Job Retention Scheme… The Chancellor declined this offer.”

image captionSimon Hart said Welsh ministers knew it was not possible for the Treasury to bring forward the scheme

On Monday, Mr Hart said the Welsh Government knew “full well” it was not possible for the Treasury to bring forward the JSS before announcing the lockdown.

He said the lockdown announcement was “very, very unfair” on people “caught by the time gap” before the start of the JSS.

But Plaid Cymru said it was a “question of fairness”.

Liz Saville Roberts, MP for Dwyfor Meirionnydd, said: “A firebreak gives us the opportunity to buy more time to build up a resilient test, trace and isolate system.

“But for that to work, the UK government must also do its part by giving appropriate financial support.”

What has the UK government said?

image copyrightPA Media
image captionGyms will have to close again, only months after they reopened for members

A Treasury spokesman said: “Employers in Wales can use the furlough scheme until 31 October to help them through this difficult period and can then get support through our new Job Support Scheme from 1 November.”

A UK government source said the chancellor called all finance ministers before the announcement of the expansion of the scheme to explain how it would work, when it would come into effect and that it would be UK-wide.

He asked finance ministers to keep restrictions as consistent as possible across the devolved nations, the source said.

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France teacher attack: Rallies held to support beheaded Samuel Paty

President Emmanuel Macron said

the attack bore all the hallmarks of an “Islamist terrorist attack” and the teacher had been murdered because he “taught freedom of expression”.

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Labor to win re-election in ACT with support of Greens, ABC election analyst Antony Green says

Chief Minister Andrew Barr has claimed victory in the ACT election after a “humbling” year of his government leading Canberra through bushfires and a global pandemic.

The ABC’s election analyst Antony Green says ACT Labor will be returned for a sixth term with the support of the Greens.

But he says the surprise of the evening favours the Greens, as he predicts the party could win as many as six of the chamber’s 25 seats.

With just under 80 per cent of the vote counted at the end of Saturday, Labor has won 38.4 per cent of the vote, while the Canberra Liberals have won 33.1 per cent of the vote.

Speaking at the Canberra Liberals party event, leader Alistair Coe conceded the election and said the future of his leadership was “to be determined”.

“Tonight marks the end of a tough campaign in a tough year,” he said.

“2020 has seen bushfires, hail, COVID, and of course an ACT election.

“I can confirm that I have called Andrew Barr, I have congratulated him in the campaign he ran, because by all accounts it is highly likely that we have seen the return of a Labor-Greens Government.

The Canberra Liberals have seen an unexpected 3.6 per cent swing against them, while Labor’s vote share remains largely unchanged from 2016.

Green said the only way the Canberra Liberals could win enough seats to claim government was if paper vote results were significantly different to the choices of the majority of Canberrans who voted electronically.

Andrew Barr claims victory for Labor

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ACT Chief Minister Andrew Barr gives his victory speech

Striding into the Belconnen Labor Club as his supporters chanted “four more years”, returned Chief Minister Andrew Barr took to the podium hand-in-hand with his husband Anthony Toms.

“And particularly in a year like this one, where we have had an extraordinary series of challenges thrown at us as a city — but we have got through it because we have worked together.”

Two men in suits embrace.
Andrew Barr embraces his husband Anthony Toms as the Labor Party claims a sixth successive ACT election victory.(ABC News: Selby Stewart)

Mr Barr also offered his commiserations to Mr Coe, who he said had run a dignified campaign.

“I want to thank him for the campaign they ran, it was a campaign that was based on their values, and they weren’t shy about putting them forward,” he said.

“Our national capital leads this nation as the most inclusive democracy in Australia.”

Mr Barr said he and deputy leader Yvette Berry would sit down with the Greens on Monday to discuss a parliamentary agreement.

Ecstatic Greens celebrate potential big wins

Shane Rattenbury with two women — Emma Davidson and Rebecca Vassarotti — at the ACT Greens election party.
The surprise winners of the night are the ACT Greens, who could win up to six seats.(ABC News: Elise Fantin)

Speaking at a rowdy ACT Greens event, party leader Shane Rattenbury said the result was a vote of confidence for his party.

“Canberra has voted for a positive agenda for this city, for an agenda that is about being bold, about looking forward and tackling the big issues that are out there.”

With most of the vote counted, the ACT Greens currently have a 3.6 per cent swing towards them.

Antony Green has predicted the party will win a seat in Yerrabi, as well as retaining its seat in Murrumbidgee, which became a toss up with the retirement of MLA Caroline Le Couteur.

He said the party also has a chance of picking up a seat in the electorates of Ginninderra and Brindabella, alongside a second seat in Kurrajong.

Mr Rattenbury congratulated Mr Coe on his campaign, and said the hard-fought election had left him nervous.

He said Mr Barr had also called him to congratulate the party on their strong result.

Government ‘resurgence’ in Canberra’s south

A man in a suit stands facing a camera, ready to speak on television.
Canberra Liberals MLA Mark Parton said the first batch of results returned were disappointing for the party.(ABC News: James Vyver)

In Canberra’s southernmost electorate of Brindabella, where 80 per cent of the vote has been counted, the Canberra Liberals have faced a devastating result.

The party has seen a four per cent swing against it, while Labor enjoyed a 7.5 per cent swing.

Brindabella has long been considered a Canberra Liberals’ stronghold and the party needed to win three seats in the five-member electorate to help them win government.

The loss of the third seat means Liberal MLA Andrew Wall will not return to the Assembly.

The last seat remains a close fight between Labor’s Taimus Werner-Gibbings and the Greens’ Johnathan Davis.

At his victory speech Mr Barr said the result was a vote for the extension of light rail to Canberra’s south.

“Four years ago, in this very spot, I stood here and said that Canberrans had voted for light rail,” Mr Barr said.

“Well friends, they have done it again … and I think Labor’s resurgence on the southside tonight is testimony to that.”

Liberal MLA in Brindabella Mark Parton, who retains his seat, told the ABC the result was disappointing.

Handful of MLAs look set to lose their positions

A woman with short hair and glasses stands in front of a desk fitted with microphones.
Bec Cody looks to have lost her spot in the ACT Legislative Assembly.(ABC News: Tahlia Roy)

There are five MLAs from the last Assembly who look unlikely to return.

Among the Canberra Liberals, Candice Burch in Kurrajong is just hanging on, while Andrew Wall in Brindabella and James Milligan in Yerrabi are predicted to lose their seats.

Labor is expecting to lose its MLA Deepak Raj-Gupta, who served only for a brief time after replacing Meegan Fitzharris when she resigned last year.

Labor MLA Bec Cody left the party function early when first results showed she would not be re-elected in Murrumbidgee, as preferences flowed instead to Labor candidate Marisa Paterson, who the ABC has called the seat for.

With the retirements of Liberal MLA Vicki Dunne and Greens MLA Caroline Le Couteur, the ACT’s 10th assembly appears likely to be full of fresh faces.

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How Teachers Support One Another During the Pandemic

Amy: Not ever the same one, though.

Trevor: We don’t share.

Beck: Being close friends who are both teachers, but not actually working at the same school, did you ever brainstorm together or come to each other for advice?

Amy: Trevor created a group a couple of years ago for us to share curriculum with each other.

Trevor: There were people from different schools throughout the district. Obviously we don’t know each other’s students personally, but we’d talk about things that go on during our day, like “Johnny just threw a chair across the room.” Or, “Lisa’s mom just called me with this ridiculous thing, and I just wanted to just pull my hair out.” Sometimes it’s about the principal or assistant principal being a pain in the rear end. A lot of times we talk about crazy stuff that the district is doing.

Then sometimes it’s just, “I don’t know how I’m going to get through the day. I’m not in the place that I need to be to be positive for the kids. Give me a boost; I need a laugh.”

Amy: During COVID-19, when we went from teaching completely in person to online, it was nice to have somebody that I could reach out to and say, “I don’t know how to turn on Zoom; what do I do?” Before the pandemic, we focused on the academic side of things. It very quickly turned into IT.

Trevor: Now, even though we’re not seeing each other on a daily basis, we have a Snapchat group. When we’re frustrated or just want to say something that we don’t want to be on a text message for the rest of time, we will throw it up on Snapchat. That group is just for the circle of trust—there’s four or five of us.

Beck: Have your schools gone totally virtual, or are you doing any in-person teaching this year?

Amy: Our district let the parents choose if they wanted to be online or in person. I am teaching 100 percent online at this time.

Trevor: And I’m teaching 100 percent in person. They call it brick-and-mortar here. Whether you chose e-learning or brick-and-mortar, everyone was online the first week of school. Everyone had to understand the new e-learning platform. I’m tech savvy, and Amy is too, and we were beyond stressed.

Beck: How has your friendship, and relationships with other teachers, helped you to cope with this very unusual school year?

Trevor: COVID has brought the faculty closer together. You see people supporting each other whom you wouldn’t normally see having conversations.

Amy: I know that at any point, I can call Trevor and just talk. He will send me messages just to say good morning. Also, Trevor currently works at the same school as my husband, and I work at the school where he used to work.

Trevor: She knows the dynamic of my school, not only through me but through her husband, and I know the dynamic of her school because I’ve been there. So we have an understanding of what’s going on with each other.

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Support for Scottish independence soars to 58% in new poll

Scottish support for independence has reached the highest level ever recorded – according to a new Ipsos MORI poll.

58% cent of respondents now say they”d back Scotland leaving the union.

During the Scottish Independence Referendum in 2014, just over 44% of voters supported independence.

Dr Kirsty Hughes, Director of the Scottish Centre on European Relations think tank told Euronews says there’s been a pattern of increasing support:

“There’s been a swing but it’s been gradually coming. By the end of last year, three years into Brexit (negotiations), the numbers were 50-50

“And we saw from this June, the numbers go from 53, to 54, to 55% for independence, worrying London and causing a stir in the British media.

“I think both the pandemic and Brexit are very important, but you already had 44% (in the 2014 referendum) which in a nutshell was for self-determination.

“We’ve seen since the Brexit vote, some Remain voters who were against independence now support it and want it within the European Union, which is the Scottish goverment’s policy.

“And then of course we’ve had Boris Johnson as Prime Minister, the Scots are not as a whole Conservatives and certainly don’t like his dire, murderous incompetence in the COVID crisis and they’ve been reassured by Nicola Sturgeon’s communication skills, which have been very, very inspiring.

“So maybe in the next five years, there’ll be another independence vote. It’s tricky, with Boris Johnson saying no but with elections in May in Scotland and an SNP landlside expected, thing are hotting up.”

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