London’s ‘embassies’ saved


by Rumbold
19th January, 2009 at 3:16 pm    

Despite cutting £511,000 from funding for new centres for rape victims, Boris Johnson has decided to continue to spend £1.4 million of ratepayers’ money per year on offices abroad to promote London (without offering any proof that these offices actually benefit London). The offices are considered important as they ensure that staff can go on junkets there at our expense London can be ‘sold to the world’. It’s not clear why a world-famous capital city which is an incredibly important financial centre needs to do that, but I am sure that those at City Hall who benefit from these outposts won’t complain too loudly.

(Via Conservative Home)


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16 Comments below   |  

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  1. platinum786 — on 19th January, 2009 at 3:40 pm  

    Politics, the great leveler of race, culture, religion.

    All politicians everywhere, are exactly the same.

    This kind of negligence you’d expect in Nairobi, rather than London, but that’s politics for you, crooks beyond all barriers.

  2. fug — on 19th January, 2009 at 4:28 pm  

    and he cursed Kens overseas activities. Oh londonistan, what have you done?

  3. Sunny — on 19th January, 2009 at 4:48 pm  

    without offering any proof that these offices actually benefit London

    As much as I’d like to bash Boris, this is typical hyperbole from CH. The CBI itself said that the foreign embassies helped British companies and saw them as vital. This is why Ken opened them and the business commmunity liked them. And this is why, despite Boris’ rash promises (all 50 million of them) he won’t close them.

    Basically, Boris fought on a platform that was dictated by Policy Exchange. Later he realised reality was somewhat different. As Nick Boles found out.

  4. persephone — on 19th January, 2009 at 6:31 pm  

    The overseas offices may be part of the strategy to ensure investment & maintain profile of the 2010 Olympics.

    Overseas countries also like such offices which (apart from the obvious revenue) show commitment, interest & enable grass roots insight.

    Though, I see that some countries have >1 office eg Inda so potential to reduce those to one given the economic climate

  5. Rumbold — on 19th January, 2009 at 7:11 pm  

    Sunny:

    As far as I know, Conservative Home did not do a piece on the story. They merely linked to it on their sidebar. And of course the CBI backed them- they provide an opportunity for more taxpayer and shareholder-funded junkets for them. Turkeys don’t vote for Christmas.

    Peresphone:

    See my points above to Sunny. And is there any empirical proof that such offices increase investment in this country? No.

  6. Leon — on 19th January, 2009 at 7:22 pm  

    (Via Conservative Home)

    Christ alive it’s not often you see that written on here!

  7. persephone — on 19th January, 2009 at 7:33 pm  

    Rumbold

    There may be plenty of proof in the report & accounts of commercial companies that have an overseas presence. My thinking was that in similar vein, such offices may work for London. London may not be as front of mind in ano country as you assume it to be.

    One year, a typically London orgn that I worked with reduced its overseas mission for just one year in a overseas market & the said country thought it was not a player within the global marketplace anymore.

    Also, if you are introducing something for the first time you cannot always show proof – it would kill innovation & change, no? Like the arguments for why early mobiles would not be of any use & look at us now.

  8. Tom — on 19th January, 2009 at 7:38 pm  

    “Closing the offices in India and China as part of a cost-cutting exercise would be short-sighted and send entirely the wrong signals to potential investors and importers in two of London’s most important potential markets. The GLA may save £1 million, but it is London firms that may ultimately end up paying a much higher price. If the Mayor is not out there promoting London, someone else will be promoting New York, Paris, or Sydney instead.”

    LCCI submission to the GLA review.

  9. Rumbold — on 19th January, 2009 at 7:51 pm  

    Peresphone and Tom:

    There should of course be people who can help international businesses set up in London by directing them to the relevent laws, taxes etc. but I am still very sceptical about these ‘embassies’. If you ran an international business, you are much more likely to establish a base in another country based on cost of employees, political situation, laws, taxes etc. Not because someone hands you a fun pack.

  10. Sunny — on 19th January, 2009 at 8:02 pm  

    Rumbold, see this:
    http://conservativehome.blogs.com/localgovernment/2009/01/boris-saves-the.html

    and the discussion below that. Tom, above, is right.

  11. persephone — on 19th January, 2009 at 8:03 pm  

    Rumbold

    Essentially (in my mind) you are querying why we need to market London as a brand. Destination marketing has been coming into its own & tackles the strategic direction – with more competition (as Tom highlighted above) also need for cooperation it means you have to have a higher global profile & network.

    I believe Edinburgh is one of the success stories that may prove a +ve precedent for destination marketing. Beneficial measures can include visitors, attraction of talent & investment and ability to link with serious overseas orgn’s.

  12. Rumbold — on 19th January, 2009 at 8:48 pm  

    Sunny, Tom and Peresphone:

    I havce to agree with the Conservative Home piece (heh Leon #6), and the comments expressed below it. I am not saying that no outpost ever brought in any money, but do we have any proof that businesses set up in this country because of the outposts? If not, then it is not unreasonable to ask why they are still open. Yes, they have receieved support, but then it is not a surprise given the groups backing them. It’s like MPs voting for expenses increases.

  13. persephone — on 19th January, 2009 at 8:55 pm  

    “Not because someone hands you a fun pack.”

    Not many commercial orgn’s would take a fun pack as the business case to invest or as a basis upon which to recommend their overseas sophisticated clients.

    I’ve not done any fun packs but I have compiled documents that show external rating agencies endorsing London centric business as a positive secure financial choice

  14. AdamB — on 20th January, 2009 at 9:50 am  

    Also they’re not really ‘embassies’ as such. That was just the name given to them by Livingstone’s opponents. They’re just small offices with a couple of people working in each. The one in Moscow was not even that but a single consultancy. They cost a few hundred thousand pounds a year but have been instrumental in bringing in millions of pounds worth of deals for both London businesses and taxpayers. You might ‘save’ a hundred thousand by closing them and then lose several million in investment. It’s easy to see the saving but not the loss. Thankfully Boris has worked that out.

  15. sonia — on 20th January, 2009 at 3:30 pm  

    why are you suprised Rumbold? :-) i know you are a really nice guy…!

    but Since when have Tories been concerned about spending money on public services? Small state remember – that applies whether the victims are raped or otherwise. the problem with British Tories is that people are confused.

    Come to the indian subcontinent to understand Conservatism i..e no expenditure on public services! a ‘public’ service -what do you mean by that? Surely everything is to be proffered privately!

    Makes British Tories look like a bunch of socialists.

    Plus..the current crisis means London is threatened – financial centre – right now isn’t going to mean much – without some marketing effort.

    who’s going to worry about rape victims when the future of the country is at stake? No one – not Tories, not new labour, no one. Certainly not a load of old style socialists either. No authoritarians either – stay at home = your country needs to make money! not spend it on you…so don’t get raped, that’s a good girl.

    yes i daresay im a cynical old cow.

    plus – there’s never satisfactory ‘proof’ that marketing will improve image – but i daresay…many people would agree the image needs improving right now! there will be some investment somewhere or other. Of course personally i think it makes sense for that investment to take the form of bolstering small enterprises locally. I don’t know..no government seems to big on that as far as I can see. Its all Big Business isn’t it!

    what joy.

  16. Rumbold — on 20th January, 2009 at 4:17 pm  

    Thank you Sonia. You are very lovely as well. I am also glad that someone has agreed we me that we don’t actually have any evidence which suggests that these outposts led to more investment in London.

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