Well, did Dave and his chums pull it off? Is he coming home with a bag full of orders? Apart from an order for piggies which he announced before he left, has he got a surprise for us in his suitcase? Can all those public sector workers who are about to get their P45’s breathe a sigh of relief? I don’t think so.
I’m not sure what good trade missions do apart from provide a jolly for ‘business leaders’ at the taxpayer’s expense. Aren’t they a little anachronistic in this digital age?
Apparently this mission had a dual purpose. First to extract some much needed biz from our Chinese ‘friends’, and then to give them a damn good telling off. This is a uniquely British way of courting a customer – in case you weren’t aware. It would be laughable if it wasn’t true.
How would we react if on a visit to London Wen Jiabao stood up in the Mansion house and told us our parentage? We would be affronted. The Daily Mail would have to print a dozen supplements to accommodate its indignation. I am astounded by our arrogance and our lack of courtesy.
Of course there are many human rights issues that we all find unacceptable, but there are far more effective ways of influencing Chinese behaviour.
Britain has been made to look ridiculous, our Dave made to look foolish. Let’s hope there are no more of these so called ‘trade missions’. They do us more harm than good – and they’re v. embarrassing.