the corner office

a blog, by Colin Pretorius

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I enjoy Tory peer Norman Tebbit's blog. There's much I disagree with but I do enjoy people who tell it like they see it, and his regular responses to commenters (friends and foes) are a unique and polite touch.

His comments about Obama's 'British Petroleum' 'ass-kicking' histrionics have made a few waves:

At least on the other side of the Atlantic the conduct of President Obama over the great oil spill is explicable, even if despicable. The whole might of American wealth and technology is displayed as utterly unable to deal with the disastrous spill – so what more natural than a crude, bigoted, xenophobic display of partisan political presidential petulance against a multinational company?

It is time that our American friends were reminded that they sang a different tune when the American company Union Carbide killed many thousands of Indians at Bhopal. Not to mention when the American company Occidental killed 167 people on a North Sea oil rig in 1988.

The point repeatedly being made is that BP in terms of shareholding and directors is as American as it is British, and its name hasn't been 'British Petrol' for a decade. Further, there's plenty of American corporate and regulatory guilt to go around, from approved environmental impact declarations that spoke about 'walruses' (because of a copy-and-paste from Arctic drilling plans) to the role of contracters including old American-as-Apple-Pie favourites like Halliburton.

Tebbit followed up more recently with an interesting perspective on BP:

I do not envy David Cameron the task not only of protecting British interests but also of helping President Obama protect those of the United States. That demands that their exchanges exclude both ass kicking and licking in favour of frank talking.

The facts are clear enough. Under the leadership of Lord Browne, BP not only contracted out the management of those nasty dirty jobs like drilling for oil and refining it, it progressively got rid of anyone who knew any thing about such old-fashioned activities. The New, Modern, Green, Progressive, BP made excellent profits, but failed to heed the failures in parts of its business for which it was still responsible but had discarded the skills to manage.

The Americans have even more right to be angry about that than the investors who stand to lose a great deal of money. Most of it is, of course, not theirs, but that of pensioners whose funds they manage. That is bound to cost BP shareholders dear.

{2010.06.13 - 04:27}


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