My grave fear is that I am turning into a grumpy old man.
More realistically it is probably a frustration because of the ‘issues’ being created for us, rather the consequence of an apparent abandonment of respect.
I was delighted to see Jo Konta ‘bite back’ at a reporter last week who was being both patronising and disrespectful, whilst attempting to write a story that did not exist. To summarise Jo’s retort to said reporter: “I am a professional competitor that did her best”. A professional who enters competitions to win and today she lost, she moves on. No histrionics, no excuses, just plain facts. I fully suspect that the reporter would not have challenged her in the way he did if Jo had been a man.
Earlier this month there was outrage at the fact that women’s football was not attracting the same levels of remuneration and winnings. The headlines were all around equality and the ‘fact that we don’t seem to have learnt any lessons’, that we were ‘regressing in terms of equality and respect for women’. There is absolutely no debate around the importance of ensuring that equality continues to find its rightful importance in every aspect of our society. But there also needs to be a realism.
The truth is that despite the recent and very successful Women’s World Cup, women’s football generates around a tenth of the revenue enjoyed by men’s football. The revenue stream isn’t yet established to afford the women’s game the equality it so rightly deserves in terms of earnings. If one were being truly committed to accelerating the level of equality in terms of winnings/earnings then there would be an initiative to drop the men’s games obscene wage bill and earnings for clubs. Then fans of both games would benefit. But of course, the danger here is that the global market space would denude talent from the UK game because the higher wages were still available elsewhere. It would be nice to see FIFA ‘grow some’ and deal with the real issues in football instead of tinkering on the edges.
Last month we saw the Ford announce the closure of its Bridgend Plant. There is no denying the tragedy that this announcement means in terms of jobs, careers, communities, families and their future, but was it really a surprise? Had Bridgend really been living in splendid isolation, unaware of the UK Government climate change policy, the banning of petrol/diesel engine vehicles by 2040 and, inter alia, the declaration by Jaguar that it was moving away from UK car production.
To witness the duplicity of a Government minister declaring that he is “absolutely livid” at Ford’s decision to “turn their back on Bridgend” is jaw-dropping. What was he attempting to achieve by promoting a contextual environment that ignores both truth and reality?
Talking of which, the unreality that currently populates the assessment of our global economy – like it does tennis, football and the internal combustion engine – the commentary surrounding the reality of both the UK and global economy defies belief. We currently, and bizarrely, hide under the blanket of Brexit pretending that this is the only thing that needs to concern us regarding the economy. Reckless politicians and commentators talk passively about the opportunity that a no-deal brings, completely side-lining the fact that a global economic recession is ‘inbound’ and the global market space is going to be the most challenging it has ever been. And, ironically, because of the governance brought in following on from the global recession of 2007.
What we do know from previous recessions is that market become more restrictive, not less, and extant trade agreements are never more important to provide a continued, albeit reduced, level of access and trade. And we are currently on a course that will put the UK in the worst of all worlds. But what has happened to these facts in the course of the UK’s torrid journey around Brexit?
When I was asked the other day of what I thought about the manner in which important issues were being presented I immediately responded with the word “nasty”. The focus is on reporting the unpleasant and reacting is a spiteful way. There is no-longer a concern over consequence. Our capitulation to this sort of behaviour allows the likes of Hunt and Johnson to pretend that they have something new to bring to the table.
The UK is currently sleep walking into chaos and our political class do not appear to much care. For me there is little or no esteem in the way in which our leaders currently act – they all live for the moment and to survive. But as Francis Fukuyama so eruditely cautioned: “To truly esteem oneself means that one must be capable of feeling shame or self-disgust when one does not live up to a certain standard”. Indeed, respect seems to have been consigned to a slang exclamation rather than the verb that we all once celebrated.
James Johnston is a business owner, chair of the The Malt Whisky Trail and served as Station Commander for RAF Kinloss