That British reaction to Obama, shorter version

COLBY COSH: Let’s not get caught up in technicalities

by Colby Cosh

British politicians should certainly be standing up for Britain’s largest corporation in the face of xenophobic attacks on British Petroleum’s management by the President of the United States! This is nothing more or less than an attack on British pensioners whose comfortable retirements depend on shares of good old British Petroleum! BP’s dividends are our lifeblood! Now is not the time for our leaders to be timid in defending a great British CEO and British corporate interests! Mrs. Thatcher didn’t play these sorts of games when the American-owned Piper Alpha blew up! I ask you, what happened to the so-called “special relationship”?

On the other hand, it would be totally outrageous to suggest that Britain bears any collective responsibility for the management of the rig! Are we going to point the finger of blame at British pensioners just because they stood to receive the profits if everything went well, but now that it hasn’t, it’s the Gulf Coast that must suffer? Isn’t President Obama aware of the rudimentary fact that BP is no longer “British Petroleum”, but a global brand? Plus, hello, the owner of the rig was Transocean Ltd.—pretty much an American company, although they’re technically based in Switzerland! But, remember, “BP” is not in any sense British, even though its head office is still in the City!

Look, let’s not get caught up in technicalities! The point is, we don’t necessarily like the tone of these anti-British attacks on a company that, by the way, isn’t even British! The oil was destined for your market! If you want it, maybe you should clean up the mess! But, uh, that’s not to say you should nationalize BP’s resources in the Gulf of Mexico or anything like that! We in Britain would regard that as an act of xenophobic belligerence! Although, again, there’s no necessary connection left between “BP” and Great Britain! That’s just a vestige of history! Pretty much a coincidence! Can’t we just blame the Koreans and move on?




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That British reaction to Obama, shorter version

  1. Does this means that Britain will no longer be America's closest ally and friend? Are the Americans going to ask Canada if we want to be their best friend again?

  2. Really short version,
    President Obama,
    BP bought you and the democrats fair and square during the election. You were supposed to be different!!! You were supposed to be an honest politician!! President Obama, sir , honest politicians stay bought.
    You, sir, are just a politician!!

  3. You could make the same argument for any number of publicly traded Oil and Gas companies headquartered in Calgary. Alberta's flagship company Suncor (headed by American born raised amd schooled Rick George), Imperial Oil (owned by Exxon Mobil), Syncrude (consortium owned), Shell Canada etc etc.

    Yet, there is no shortage of oil sands defenders/cheerleaders in Alberta when it comes to developing this resource – some have even made a career out of it. That is, until one of the dikes fails…then we'll hear the same arguments from Albertans disowning the resource and blaming consumers.

    I can tell you this much – anyone familiar with Exxon-Mobil/Imperial Oil's risk assessment matrix and project assessments, haz op reviews and attention to safety would suggest this catastrophe would have been considerably less likely to occur there- than cost cutting BP, and the corporate culture that survives its former much heralded and well connected British leader Lord Baron John Browne. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Browne,_Baron_B

  4. BP is unquestionably guilty of the catastrophy at the oil rig. All oil companies, should make sure that their safety precautions are more than just adequate if protection of this planet is important to all of us. BP pensioners (British or otherwise) will not suffer as I am sure that BP's pockets are large enough to take care of that responsibility of theirs. If anyone can recall the Bhopal disaster, some three decades ago at least, it has again re-emerged as a newsworthy item, in regard to compensations etc. Large corporations have to face up to their responsibilities, when the lives of people are at stake and certainly their livelihood. Forget about anti-British sentiment, real or imagined. Nobody has expressed these sentiments, with any degree of sincerety. Noel

    • And you are unquestionnably guilty of speaking out of your ***.

  5. The Telegraph article you linked to is quick to bring up Agent Orange and Bhopal. So this is what it's come to– "we're not as toxic as that." How excusable, then. I don't have the inclination to register and comment on the Telegraph's site, but quite simply, if BP's board is going to be so negligent with cost-cutting relative to safety, then duh, the company shares should suffer when said negligence catches up. C'est capitalism, non?

  6. Isn't the whole problem that corporations were originally created for the purpose of limiting individual liability, but have become massively large constructs accountable to no one?

    BP and other large transnational corporations are effectively states unto themselves, more powerful than many modern countries, and much less democratic.

    • In view of the fact that BP's corporate liability here is limited by US statute: no, that isn't remotely the whole problem, at all.

      • Okay, strike the word "whole."

        Seems to me the issue is the inability of either shareholders or nation states to appropriately regulate corporate behaviour even after major incidents, let alone before, and it has very little to do with, as you point out, the company's country of origin.

    • There isn't anything very transnational about corporations today. Virtually all corporations are reliant on a market concentrated in a home region. Contrary to the notion that corporations can simply ship jobs off to the developing world, a large proportion of both trade and investment flows go from wealthy countries to other wealthy countries.
      Corporations are no more powerful than at any other time – possibly less so in that today's corporations are generally smaller and less concentrated than those of the 1970s.

      What has changed are attitudes towards regulation, not the ability of states to regulate. Since the 2008 financial crisis market "fundamentalism" is beginning to wane. Over the next decade or so, we will begin to see a significant regulatory pushback. Indeed, Obama's financial reforms already start that trend (in particular he included "say on pay" provisions to shift control back towards shareholders).

    • Corporations are not the slightest bit more powerful than countries. There is no comparison. Corporations can only receive your money when you hand it over voluntarily. Governments can just take it.

  7. 4-5 weeks Obama was encouraging more off-shore drilling. He isn't kicking ass, he is covering his own ass.

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