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Sunday, March 30, 2008

Notes From London

Hello and sorry for so few posts as of late. I am on vacation in London and I have had “better things to do.”

There are some interesting parallel observations on what is happening in England and the US around the economy, leadership and Iraq. The anxiety over a recession is palpable here. Housing prices are plummeting, caught in the American sub-prime mortgage fiasco fall out and inflation is taking hold.

The future of the military involvement in Iraq is under debate but not an open question in reality…the Brits are in for the long haul and may be coming more engaged in Afghanistan too. There is some sense of shock and dismay over allegations of Iraqi prisoner abuse that are in the hands of the British military. While the Americans mollify their consciences by saying if they do something to a prisoner like water boarding, it can’t be torture…because, as Dubya says…”America does not torture prisoners. “

The Prime Minister is suffering from declining respect and confidence too. The media makes more of his getting “lost” (the Queen’s “observation” on an open microphone) at a recent state dinner; mistakenly thinking he was to be in a receiving line versus when he was to be seated at the head table.

All this unease and nervousness about where the world of the Brits is going is caught in the mortifying mess in the opening of Heathrow’s new Terminal 5. A magnificent botch up of monumental proportions that further undermines the confidence of a nation that brought us the Industrial Revolution. The chatter on the street and in the cafes is all about how embarrassing the Terminal 5 fiasco is for the reputation of England in the world.

Seems to me the angst over Terminal 5 as a national humiliation is simple transference. The sense |I get is that London at least is prepared to focus on some relatively meaningless management mistakes like Terminal 5 so they don’t have to face the stark reality of the really big and looming monsters under the national bed.

Off for a tour of Spencer House…and China's Terracotta Army display at the British Museum - BFN