Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Something to cheer about

Back in the days I was working for the One London group in the highly expensive and completely pointless London Assembly, I wrote fairly frequently about one particular way Hizonner the Mayor Livingstone spend large amounts of taxpayers' money: the so-called London embassies that he set up in various countries, allegedly to ensure that businesses in those countries knew about London and all it could offer. As one of the biggest of these offices was in Venezuela, I begged leave to doubt the Mayor's good intentions.

The idea, as I pointed out repeatedly, that there are businessmen and women out there who had never heard of London, a city that has had centuries of commercial history, was laughable. Quite apart from which there are various other organizations, starting with embassies and trade delegations, to deal with various issues.

I am pleased to inform everyone that Hizonner the Mayor Johnson is shutting them down. First to go were the ones on the Indian continent, whither many an expensive taxpayer-funded trip had been taken unde Livingstone.

Pippa Crerar, City Hall Editor, does not like this. Maybe she was hoping for a trip or two herself. She maintains that Johnson had promised to keep those "embassies" open, which is not exactly true: he promised to review the situation and a review was naturally going to lead to closures.

Secondly, she quotes dissatisfied "business leaders".
Business chiefs warned that closing the offices to save money would send out the wrong signals to potential investors. Colin Stanbridge, chief executive of the London
Chamber of Commerce and Industry
, said: “It is essential that we maintain offices in Delhi and Mumbai so that we can continue to market London in one of the fastest growing economies in the world. If we are not out there selling London as the best place in the world to do business, our international rivals will be more than happy to fill the vacuum.”

Graham Capper, of business group London First, added: “If representatives and offices in India are adding value then they should be retained — there's no point saving cash by cutting them if it costs us investment and jobs in London.”

However, he said there should be better co-ordination between agencies
promoting London abroad — UK Trade and Invest, the City Corporation, the LDA and Think London, its inward investment agency.
The trouble is these are not business leaders but quango leaders - people who live off the taxpayer (and very comfortably, too) while hoping for those trips. The fact that Mr Capper can list a number of other agencies, all engaged at promoting London, while gobbling up other people's money, disposes of the need for those embassies. Let us not forget that businesses may decide to go elsewhere if they find taxation overwhelmingly high and beneficiaries of that high taxation are hardly in a position to talk. (Though that has never stopped any of them before.)

I am delighted to say that almost all the comments on the article agree with the decision as does the Evening Standard's editorial [second one down] on the subject.


  1. A "businessman" on the public teat is not a busineesman but a parasite.

  2. There is no danger that indians do not know of the existence of London since most of them live there.

  3. Most of them rCross? Really? Do you have the slightest idea of how many people there are on the Inidan Sub-Continent?