Crying Shame

Boris’s latest Daily Telegraph offering (9th Jan “Let’s show booming India that we know our onions”) made eye wateringly painful reading for those of us in the know about his policy on GLA offices abroad. 

The Mayor writes about a recent trip to India which he again made reference to at a Local Government dinner at Mansion House last night (13 January).  In his article, he makes reference to the “awesome Indian economic landscape”, which he helpfully points out, is so vast that it’s enough to make us British “positively jealous”.  He also flags up “signs of money cascading” and a rising middle class of 400 million people with a further 700 million hankering after the usual and unrelenting barrage of capitalist consumer goods and services we take for granted.

How refreshing, to hear such data, after, we’ve been worn down with a plethora of talk and reports about recession, falling demand and rising costs over the last few years.  Yet, if the current Mayor shared the same aforethought and insight as the previous Mayor, then perhaps London could have played a bigger role towards dampening the economic strain of the last few years.

Although I must commend Boris’s insight into Indian culture and cuisine, (I guess in part due to family ties), his cultural appreciation is greatly undermined by his failure to deliver on his own notion that we " lasso [the] rampaging Indian bullock and get some more traction for Britain" .  He’s skilfully managed to break ranks with his own idea of what is right for the British and indeed the London economy by closing the GLA offices in both Mumbai & Delhi.  Therefore, it’s a bit rich for him now to advocate something which he initially rejected as a waste, derogatorily referring to them as "embassies" in the past.  Even after he got into office, he had to be persuaded by London business to maintain them; however, he eventually and quietly mothballed them by gradually failing to recruit new staff when staff left the offices

The Mayor set up a review of the GLA’s overseas offices in 2008 and it reported its findings in January of the following year. Headed by the Mayor’s then deputy Ian Clement, the review concluded that there was no case for closing these offices finding that “the rationale for London to have offices in key emerging markets is fundamentally sound” and that they ‘do play an important role in promoting London’s interests, from supporting the capital’s businesses to enhancing the image of our city around the world’.

In a submission to the GLA review, the London of Chamber of Commerce stated

“Closing the offices in India and China as part of a cost-cutting exercise would be short-sighted and send entirely the wrong signals to potential investors and importers in two of London’s most important potential markets. The GLA may save £1 million, but it is London firms that may ultimately end up paying a much higher price. If the Mayor is not out there promoting London, someone else will be promoting New York, Paris, or Sydney instead.”

Past warnings of this clarity make uncomfortable reading while it’s recently emerged that only 7% of UK exports go to China, India and Brazil.  These are the economies seen as the locomotive of global growth.  Developing economies like India’s have grown in global importance due to their having escaped the worst consequences of the recession.  It’s therefore vital that London’s businesses are properly represented there.   Boris has succinctly managed to illustrate the consequences of his decision to close these offices with the use of his onion analogy.  It also illustrates the foresight of Ken’s regime which established these hubs based upon an economic health warning that without them, we would suffer lost opportunities.

So whilst the Mayor shouts out “why the hell don’t British contractors and consultants get on out and pitch” for projects like,  building a tube network in Mumbai, so too, should we shout back to him; “as London Mayor, why have you not sent anyone out there to harness these opportunities and deliver benefits to London and the UK?”

I guess the short answer is, it takes a cook to know their onions but it takes a great chef to know how to cook them.  Perhaps Boris needs some lessons!

Boris’s latest Daily Telegraph offering (9th Jan “Let’s show booming India that we know our onions”) made eye wateringly painful reading for those of us in the know about his policy on GLA offices abroad. 

The Mayor writes about a recent trip to India which he again made reference to at a Local Government dinner at Mansion House last night (13 January).  In his article, he makes reference to the “awesome Indian economic landscape”, which he helpfully points out, is so vast that it’s enough to make us British “positively jealous”.  He also flags up “signs of money cascading” and a rising middle class of 400 million people with a further 700 million hankering after the usual and unrelenting barrage of capitalist consumer goods and services we take for granted.

How refreshing, to hear such data, after, we’ve been worn down with a plethora of talk and reports about recession, falling demand and rising costs over the last few years.  Yet, if the current Mayor shared the same aforethought and insight as the previous Mayor, then perhaps London could have played a bigger role towards dampening the economic strain of the last few years.

Although I must commend Boris’s insight into Indian culture and cuisine, (I guess in part due to family ties), his cultural appreciation is greatly undermined by his failure to deliver on his own notion that we " lasso [the] rampaging Indian bullock and get some more traction for Britain" .  He’s skilfully managed to break ranks with his own idea of what is right for the British and indeed the London economy by closing the GLA offices in both Mumbai & Delhi.  Therefore, it’s a bit rich for him now to advocate something which he initially rejected as a waste, derogatorily referring to them as "embassies" in the past.  Even after he got into office, he had to be persuaded by London business to maintain them; however, he eventually and quietly mothballed them by gradually failing to recruit new staff when staff left the offices

The Mayor set up a review of the GLA’s overseas offices in 2008 and it reported its findings in January of the following year. Headed by the Mayor’s then deputy Ian Clement, the review concluded that there was no case for closing these offices finding that “the rationale for London to have offices in key emerging markets is fundamentally sound” and that they ‘do play an important role in promoting London’s interests, from supporting the capital’s businesses to enhancing the image of our city around the world’.

In a submission to the GLA review, the London of Chamber of Commerce stated

“Closing the offices in India and China as part of a cost-cutting exercise would be short-sighted and send entirely the wrong signals to potential investors and importers in two of London’s most important potential markets. The GLA may save £1 million, but it is London firms that may ultimately end up paying a much higher price. If the Mayor is not out there promoting London, someone else will be promoting New York, Paris, or Sydney instead.”

Past warnings of this clarity make uncomfortable reading while it’s recently emerged that only 7% of UK exports go to China, India and Brazil.  These are the economies seen as the locomotive of global growth.  Developing economies like India’s have grown in global importance due to their having escaped the worst consequences of the recession.  It’s therefore vital that London’s businesses are properly represented there.   Boris has succinctly managed to illustrate the consequences of his decision to close these offices with the use of his onion analogy.  It also illustrates the foresight of Ken’s regime which established these hubs based upon an economic health warning that without them, we would suffer lost opportunities.

So whilst the Mayor shouts out “why the hell don’t British contractors and consultants get on out and pitch” for projects like,  building a tube network in Mumbai, so too, should we shout back to him; “as London Mayor, why have you not sent anyone out there to harness these opportunities and deliver benefits to London and the UK?”

I guess the short answer is, it takes a cook to know their onions but it takes a great chef to know how to cook them.  Perhaps Boris needs some lessons!

Click here to view full article