Wednesday 12 December 2018

Mrs May Has Airport Fever

Just Go
A number of years ago I hired a guy to be head of European sales.  With most clients, there was very strong potential for follow-on orders, so the job entailed post-sales customer relations.  If the sales guy was good at that relationship stuff, the follow-ons were the easiest sales to make.  But the product wasn't entirely trouble-free, so he did have to be good.

The new hire had several indisputable qualifications: he had relevant experience; knew the sector; and spoke several Euro-languages really well, in an easygoing way that meant most people liked him at first meeting. 

What could go wrong?  Well, all the usual little things, like they always do.  But I was impressed from the start at how, when the anguished or angry call came in from a client, he would immediately jump on a plane and get out on site to put things right in person.

That is, I was impressed at the start.  But it soon become apparent that these dashes to client's door were not genuinely productive.  Whatever good he was achieving by sheer personal responsiveness - in the striking but rather limited sense of physically turning up within hours - he was not actually problem-solving when he got there.  Somehow he expected the magic of a prompt but fleeting personal appearance to be enough.  I subsequently heard this pattern of fruitless behaviour labelled 'airport fever'.

Which brings us to our very own Theresa May.  Over the 30 months of her PM-ship there have been many squalls in the brexit process and the first thing you know, she's blitzing half a dozen Euro-capitals in person.  Protocol being what it is, the respective political leaders always give her a cup of coffee and a brief photo-opportunity ...  well, it's only polite.

But it's pretty obvious these dynamic and quite striking personal interventions achieve two tenths of bugger-all and, since it is to be imagined the Air Miles are not the attraction, we are obliged to diagnose a bad case of Airport Fever.

I had to let the sales guy go, of course.  It's not just airport fever.  It's terminal.  If you see what I mean.  



E-K said...

At this hour you're already out of date. (nice post btw)

Have you not heard the news from Downing Street ???

The size of that fucking Christmas tree !!!!

Anyone would think there wasn't a war on (except for the posing machine gun totting Ninjas of SO19 and the blacked out limmo)

Nick Drew said...

Err, yes!

L fairfax said...

As they said of Chamberlain at the time of Munich. "If at first you do not succeed, fly,fly and fly again".

Tony Harrison said...

Airport fever sounds like a good explanation, though I'd describe May's pathology as displacement activity: as a serial procrastinator, a blinkered social cripple, and someone who can't even see the trees let alone the wood, she had to get on a plane as the only alternative to facing the music in Parliament. The total lack of productivity was simply not an issue, as with your Euro sales guy: the travel was an end in itself, wholly necessary to May's perception of herself. I worry about her, and I worry just as much about a Party that could put her into Downing Street.

AndrewZ said...

It's also possible that May was trying to stage a bit of political theatre - a dramatic round of high-stakes negotiations, the PM taking personal charge, and then a last-minute announcement of a breakthrough that would allow Conservative MPs to accept the WA. Of course, there would be no change to the substance of the agreement but the EU might well have been willing to play along and give her a few symbolic concessions that could be spun as something significant in the media.

andrew said...

The latest strategy seem to be trying to run the clock.
Both fast - the vote is today and it gives little time for thought but enough for fear.
And slow - trying to say a leadership election would take until feb 19.

The thing is her plan is broken and her latest tour only gained her some air miles.

Out on wto or in.

If lab have any wits it will be to get referendum 2 and let the country decide now they have the new toy in front of them and also the price tag.

They should just keep their heads down and let the cons destroy themselves.

Bill Quango MP said...

But the EU didn't budge.

Never learning even the simplest lesson, the EU has forgotten their uncompromising stance with Cameron cost them a major member.
And Cameron only wanted superficial change. With one hard, even time limited, concession he could bank.
They gave him nothing.

Jan said...

She's playing the working hard/resilience/duty etc card for all it's worth but none of it is worth anything at all if she's fighting for the wrong thing. She's hoping everyone will see how hard she's worked and feel sorry for her so voting to keep her. But it's all for nothing.

We need a proper leaver not one who wants an impossible compromise.

Jan said...

Another thing...........why is the vote being referred to by the so-called BBC as a "vote of confidence"? Surely it's a"vote of no confidence". A subtle change but could make all the difference.........

andrew said...

Like you said,
"Cameron only wanted superficial change. With one hard, even time limited, concession he could bank. They gave him nothing."

and from a UK perspective, that is something that could be worked out quite easily.

We could have just quietly ignored the rules like Italy on the budget and germany on competition and france on both.
We did have a big hand in making up new rules

but as any fule kno - the EU is not just rule based. The EU _is_ its rules.

Cameron was asking the EU to change what it is into something else.
That does not appear to be an option.

Why are the 4 freedoms are so important - I see no absolute invariable and unbreakable link between free movement of people and capital.

... but in the same way that it is important that the Falklands / Gibraltar is part of the UK (most of us have never been there) to the UK,
the rules are important to the EU.

The FT said it well:
"In other words, the very essence of the EU are the four freedoms: of movement for goods, services, capital and people. The four freedoms are to the EU what golf is to a golf club. ... There is a political and an economic logic behind the unity of the four freedoms. They constitute the ultimate trade-off in EU politics."

What really confuses me is that why anyone even bothered to pretend to negotiate.

Charles said...

Airport fever is rife in the diamond business, my ex - boss, a man who makes Mrs May look like a charismatic straight shooter, was always jumping onto a plane at inconvenient moments leaving everyone praying he was visiting their markets. Since I have left he has lost numerous clients, making my job as a pension fund trustee even more difficult.

Mrs May has a foreign secretary, the fact that he is not trusted to take a taxi speaks volumes. I trust that the overwhelming support she is receiving, both from the BBC and her colleagues (honest and upright members of Parliament that they are) means that she is finished. Given that the last time she appeared before the 1922 committee they lay down and let her tickle their tummy she might escape. The BBC news at 13:00 is banging the May drum as hard as they can they even found people in the provinces (Worcester) to say that she was marvellous. Given that I went to school in Worcester I wonder how many interviews had to be cut because people were not on message.

dearieme said...

"but in the same way that it is important that the Falklands / Gibraltar is part of the UK": neither is part of the UK nor ever has been.

personalmusing said...

"I wonder how many interviews had to be cut because people were not on message."

Recording 100 interviews and showing the only 1 that supports the house view is not fake news.

Just as when the daily star reported that "woman claims that freddie starr ate her hamster" they were being entirely honest. Of course "claims" is doing all the heavy lifting.

personalmusing said...

Brexit: Theresa May won yesterday's no-confidence vote by a margin of 83 votes (200-117), however this came at the price of conceding that she will not lead the Conservative Party into the next general election (although see this morning's ft article as to how definitive this promise allegedly was, and whether it applies to one next year as opposed to only in 2022).

a promise from may. people say tories aren't nice but they are super trusting