Friday 1 April 2022

On what basis will the P&O boss be knighted?


It was a sheer stroke of luck that P&O, a company owned by an oil-rich state in the United Arab Emirates, would choose the day after the UK’s PM had travelled to the UAE, to beg them to increase the supply of oil, to sack 800 people with no notice and with blatant disregard for the requirement to consult. Who could ever have foreseen that the UK government’s response would be of the huff-and-puff-as-much-as-you-like-but-don’t-do-anything-serious variety? I mean, it’s not as if the UK would ever give ground to just any old despot for the sake of a few barrels of oil – not the new Global Britain, emboldened by Brexit, which is striding the world stage as a colossus to be reckoned with.

The Labour Party have said that the government’s lack of action is “bewildering” – a statement which only goes to show how easily they can be bewildered. Whilst it’s true that Johnson promised all sorts of tough action, they should surely realise by now that those were Johnson promises: the tougher they sound, the lower the likelihood that they will be acted on. It isn’t only facts with which he has an inverse relationship, and no-one is supposed to remember what he said yesterday. He certainly doesn’t. If it wasn’t obvious sooner, it surely should have been obvious from the moment he told parliament last week “P&O plainly aren’t going to get away with it” that that was exactly what was going to happen. The nearest that we can get to certainty with Johnson is to assume that whenever he says that something has happened, is happening, or will happen the opposite is likely to be true.

Given that he, like others in his party, has called for the head of the P&O boss, Peter Hebblethwaite, the only two remaining questions are when will Hebblethwaite get his knighthood, and what will it be for: services to the procurement of oil at a time of crisis; services to the demolition of red tape in relation to employment law; or services to tax evasion in its newly established freeports. And no, that isn't intended as some sort of April Fool joke.

1 comment:

Jonathan said...

I worked for P&O in the 70s. End of an era. The Conservative government removed capital allowances, leading P&O to warn that the company would have to "Flag out" ie move offshore, with terrible strategic and social consequences. Then P&O ceased being UK at all, when it was sold. I tried to get a Welsh Government to follow Norway ie run shipping in the national interest. I was thrown out of the building. UK has a blind spot over commercial shipping. Yesterday I visited HMS Warrior in Portsmouth. The above comments do not apply the the Royal Navy. Warrior was for many year at Pembroke Dock, but disappeared. Wales has 3 warships, and we should create an embryo Navy like Ireland's. And see if we can get shipping going. Not just renovating old ports as real estate. A deep-seated problem all round, I'm afraid.