Brits Mean Business

Jenny Gardner, director of UK Trade and Investment in Stockholm, blogs about Britain, Sweden and doing business.

Archive for December, 2012

Christmas is no Humbug

Friday, December 21st, 2012

I started December this year with a lovely performance of “A Christmas Carol” by Charles Dickens at the Maxim Theatre here in Stockholm. The story was brilliantly told and sung by a group of English actors. 

Ebenezer Scrooge, the main character, is a mean spirited, greedy old man who neither believes in Christmas nor in generosity. But on the night before Christmas, Scrooge’s old (and long time dead) business partner, Jacob Marley, comes as a ghost to visit Scrooge. Jacob rattles his chains and tells Scrooge that he himself got punished for his greedy life by getting no rest in death, but instead he now has to wander the Earth as a ghost. Jacob warns Scrooge that he will meet the same destiny if he does not change his ways. He sends Scrooge three spirits to teach him about life: the Ghost of Christmas Past, the Ghost of Christmas Present and the Ghost of Christmas Future. 

I do love Christmas and I could not help thinking that I would love to meet my Ghost of Christmas Past and certainly my Ghost of Christmas Present. The latter I expect in just a few days (perhaps not the ghost itself but certainly the Christmas). But what about the Ghost of Christmas Future? Looking ahead, we have several challenges before us. Could I get a nightly ghost to show me some scenarios?

I will share with you some of my Christmas reading, as I don’t expect any ghosts to come along and join me on this quest. We will probably have to work on this one without any assisting spirits.

Firstly the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) released a research paper in September called Industrial Strategy: UK Sector Analysis. The paper outlines the sectors that are expected to predominantly contribute to UK growth in the future. These sectors include advanced manufacturing, knowledge intensive services and enabling sectors like energy and construction. 

A second important piece of our future puzzle is the new UK Energy Bill, which was just presented at the end of November by the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC). Global energy demand is set to continue to increase. Our challenge is not only to feed that demand, but to be more efficient in energy supply and to be forward-looking with our energy solutions. We need to create a sustainable energy economy.

A third set of really interesting reads are the Digital Agenda documents. The digital service sector constitutes an increasing share of GDP growth in the UK and Sweden, as well as in other European economies, a trend that looks likely to continue. The UK Digital Opportunity – A review of Intellectual Property and Growth, UK Communications Review, The Swedish Digital Agenda and The Digital Agenda for Europe are all interesting documents relating to the shape of our future.

I will not only read government documents over Christmas. I have wanted to finish Erik Niva’s collected columns on football for a long time now and I hope I will be able to get some time for this too. I find football very inspiring, so I am sure this will add something to the mix.

Having read (and for some of them re-read) all of the above, I think I will have something to talk to the Ghost of Christmas Future about – if it shows up.

And to cite Scrooge from Dickens:

“Yes! and the bedpost was his own. The bed was his own, the room was his own.

Best and happiest of all, the time before him was his own, to make amends in!

I will live in the Past, the Present and the Future! Scrooge repeated as he scrambled out of bed. The Spirits of all Three shall strive within me. Oh, Jacob Marley! Heaven and the Christmas Time be praised for this!”

Time is scarce – make the most of it – live in the present, past and the future – and bring happiness to our community – to your family and friends. We have great challenges ahead of us – lets be smart and constructive about them. But in the meantime – let’s make the most of this holiday season.

I would like to wish you all a very Merry Christmas!

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