Saturday, June 19, 2010

Tony Goes Yotting

Tony Hayward, CEO of BP, went to watch his boat Bob
sail in the Round the Island Race today.




Mr. Hayward, I'm speaking now totally for myself. I'm not speaking for sailors, I'm not speaking for oil executives.

But I'm ashamed of what happened in the press and the blogosphere and the twittersphere today. I think it is a tragedy of the first proportion that a private person could be subjected to what I would characterize as humiliating ridicule that's unprecedented in our nation's history, that's got no legal standing, and which sets, I think, a terrible precedent for the future.

There is no question that you are a stupid prat. But we have a due process system where we go through hearings, in some cases court cases, litigation, and determine who is a stupid prat and when you should have to wear a silly hat saying you are a stupid prat.

So I'm only speaking for myself, I'm not speaking for anybody else, but I apologize. I do not want to live in a country where any time a private citizen causes the biggest environmental disaster in our nation's history and then buggers off to the Isle of Wight to enjoy a bit of yotting, he's subjected to some sort of publicity that again, in my words, amounts to humiliating ridicule.

So I apologize.

39 comments:

Doc Häagen-Dazs said...

Can't blame a bloke for wanting to sail in clear, blue water, can you, Mate?

Tillerman said...

Good point Doc. These Americans are so silly. Surely they don't expect Tony to go yotting in that smelly Gulf of Mexico place?

some-day-soling said...

Ahh. But he was taken off the oil spill for having no idea what was going on (as if he was the only one). Whether he was at the race or not, he wouldn't have been working on the gulf disaster. There will still be time to outfit him for a hat if he needs one.

Tillerman said...

Maybe s-d-s. Or maybe not...

June 18: BP chairman Carl-Henric {small people) Svanberg said Tony Hayward was stepping away from daily involvement in BP's response efforts in the Gulf.

June 19: BP spokesman Robert Wine said, "Until the leak is capped, Tony Hayward is still very much in charge in the response of this crisis."

June 19: Tony Hayward said, "STARBOARD!!! You blithering idiot!!! Don't you know who I am? PROTEST!!!"

Baydog said...

But isn't sailing for a few hours the best way to clear your mind and forget your troubles for a bit? You gotta admit.

Now, back to being pissed off....

Carol Anne said...

Well, he has to get in some sailing around the Isle of Wight before the oil gets there and ruins the place ....

Doc Häagen-Dazs said...

Yeah, well, I guess my point is this bugger should be confined to racing the waters of New Orleans. In a Laser!

Baydog said...

How about swimming instead?

Doc Häagen-Dazs said...

If his wealth is suitably 're-distributed', yes!

Tillerman said...

Baydog, you are so right. Sailing is an excellent way to clear the mind and forget all the troubles and pressures of your humdrum daily grind.

I must admit that when I was jetting around the world playing the part of a corporate executive, every time I was responsible for causing the worst environmental disaster ever experienced by one of the nations I visited, I always went sailing at the weekend to forget about it.

O Docker said...

Believe it or not, the first I heard of this is here in your blog post.

Why? Because I've been on my boat for the past few days. No TV. No news radio. And I often don't check news sites when we're aboard.

So, I think I know exactly why Mr. BP was off yotting. Seeing as how he was in charge when the decisions were made that caused this nightmare, maybe that's the best place for him.

JP said...

Yup, its well known that Senators never take any time off to (say) go golfing so why should a Brit? In particular a Brit who hasn't memorised every email send by every employee over the last three years. Tragic.

If only he'd spent the day learning to speak like Homer Simpson: everyone knows from the mooovies that the bad guy speaks with a Brit accent.

Tillerman said...

JP, you've hit the nail on the head. Why is it that sailing is seen as such an elitist activity that Mr. Hayward earned such scorn for spending a few hours in Cowes? It's similar to the jokes made about John Kerry when he went windsurfing during his presidential campaign.

President Obama went to watch a baseball game one evening last week. But eating hot dogs with a silly hat on is a manly manly activity (and of course so very American.)

As you mentioned, politicians frequently go off and knock ball into little holes with bent sticks. But of course that is a manly manly activity too (not to mention that the golf course is a great place to schmooze with your donors from the oil companies.)

If Mr. Hayward had gone home and watched world cup soccer on the TV, we would never have heard about it.

What makes sailing so reprehensible?

bob said...

Who calls a boat "Bob"?

Pat said...

The boat is the TP52 BoB, formerly "Bear of Britain" but the old name was not sold to the new owners.

Pat said...

If Tony had been a decent chap, he could have paid to fly over the crews from the canceled Gulfport to Pensacola race and the Hobie Mega Mini that's been postponed to 2011 and charter boats for them all.

BeachComber said...

Maybe he is a prat. He's certainly said some dumb things that only made the furor worse. But for now, I think it's unfair to hold him personally responsible. Until proven otherwise, I take him at his word that he made safety a top priority in his tenure as CEO. Disasters can happen due to bad judgment lower down in the ranks of an organization, even if the man at the top is doing the right things.

JP said...

I saw him being interviewed by Andrew Marr and he came over as what one could describe as an "earnest chap" but it seems that concept doesn't travels well across the pond.

There must have been hundreds if not thousands from the politicians to the consultants to the safety regulators to BP staff to partner companies with a degree of responsibility in this catastrophe.

To put all the blame on one chap seems to be scapegoating - and the fact that he's not American seems to mean that he gets it full throttle.

I'm sorry but I have difficulty taking in the sight of republican senators that have supported offshore drilling behaving so holier than though about this.

JP said...

ooops "thou" not "though" but you know what I mean.

Tillerman said...

Well said BC and JP. I too thought that a personal style that is well known, and even respected, in Britain hasn't been playing well to an American audience. And you certainly can't hold a CEO directly personally responsible for every mistake that is made in the ranks below him.

Having said that, Hayward has said some stupid things in the last few weeks. "I want my life back too," was of course the most crass and insensitive thing to say after an accident that killed 11 people and devastated the livelihoods of thousands of others.

BP seemed to have recognized at last that Hayward is not strong at public relations with an American public in a situation like this, and are replacing him with an American BP executive to handle day-to-day response operations in the Gulf.

I am still a little puzzled why spending a weekend at a sailing event is seen as so awful. If you read previous interviews with Hayward you will see that sailing is one of things that he does with his family, especially his son. Everyone, however important or vital their work, is entitled - and indeed needs - a little R&R, a time out to refresh their batteries. And if his thing is sailing, then why shouldn't he relax with his sailing friends and his son at a sailing event?

Baydog said...

Tillerman: If he had gone home and sailed with his son in a beat up old Flying Scot on Spruce Run instead of a 52 ft. racing machine around the Isle of Wight, it wouldn't be nearly as offensive to so many folks.

He's gonna do what he wants to do, regardless of the degree of success the clean-up has.

He is the CEO, but as JP said, SO
many people dropped the ball here.

Tillerman said...

The guy earns a million pounds a year (plus bonuses, stock options, etc. etc.) He's not going to sail a beat up old Flying Scot.

O Docker said...

It's the job of a CEO to set tone and broad policy.

He can set a policy of safety first or profit first. The implications of that policy tinkle down through the echelons.

While his minions may be doing the detail work he can't possibly be intimately familiar with, his cues tell subordinates what the priorities are - what's most important and what isn't.

That said, I suspect his company was following industry practices, and that this could have happened to any major oil company. For me, what the bungling that followed the initial accident most shows is that regulation has been woefully inadequate - undoubtedly due to industry lobbying and political pressure. And I think we all must share the blame for that.

Companies' actions are controlled as much by their legal departments as by the boards of directors. They do what they can legally get away with, because that's what their competitors are doing.

Industries that deal in extremely hazardous materials simply can't be relied upon to police themselves. Competitive pressures in an open market almost guarantee that policing won't be enough, or that we'll be prepared to deal with, at best, problems for which there is historical precedent.

While we're all looking for a neat scapegoat so we don't have to think about this any more than we need to, these situations are usually not as simple as they seem. The politicians we rely upon to do the regulating are human too and won't apply pressure against a powerful industry unless we make it clear to them that's what we want.

If we tell them what's most important is keeping gas under three dollars per gallon, that's a pretty clear message.

I think this CEO is not evil incarnate, but a mere businessman doing what businessmen do.

I don't think the health of our planet should be in the hands of businessmen, though. It is in our hands.

And, at the moment, our hands have an awful lot of oil on them.

Sorry for again writing a blog post in your comments page.

Baydog said...

I respect you tremendously, Tillerman. But I know of million and billionaires who sail modest boats because the boats simply make them happy. Nuff said.

No matter what our opinions are, this is a first rate tragedy, and there is an awfully long row to hoe.

Doc Häagen-Dazs said...

Tillerman says:

I thought that a personal style that is well known, and even respected, in Britain hasn't been playing well to an American audience. And you certainly can't hold a CEO directly personally responsible for every mistake that is made in the ranks below him.

I personally find nothing offensive about Tony Wayward's personality. As a matter of fact I'd rather see a lot of Tony Waywards in the U.S. Senate than just about all of the Republican dirt bags and half of the Democrats. It's just that my man Tony is just the poster-boy de jour for what's wrong with corporate politics in these United States:

1. BP is definitely off shores.

2. Corporations have been given the freedom of speech (1st Amendment rights) by this mendacious SCOTUS, and yet they don't ever seem to be held accountable for their criminal negligence. Corporations rarely get thrown in jail because they're 'too big' for the cell (I guess). I say bust them like you would any other felon.

3. Corporate officers: Being the CEO for a mega-corp like BP or one of the mega banks has to be the easiest job on the planet. No accountability. If the company fails, the govt bails you out. If the shares drop you and you get fired you get a mulit-million dollar parachute.

4. Get (Gut) Tony Hayward and then gut the next fish that comes up next to him in BP. I think that's Managing Director Bob Dudley. And then jail the next and the next. Bust the whole corporation. If any corporation can't clean up what it dirtied up and can't fix what it broke, what fooking good is it to any one? Nationalize it.

Tillerman said...

My readers are so smart. They always put me right when I get something wrong. Thanks to Baydog for pointing out that some rich people sail modest boats because the boats "simply make them happy." There are indeed some very wealthy people sailing Lasers, for example. I don't know what made me forget that and make that stupid remark about why Hayward would never sail a Flying Scot.

Pat said...

T-man, no doubt you would have reacted sympathetically if only it had been suggested that Mr. Hayward sail a Laser. But a beat-up Flying Scot? I don't know Tony Hayward, butI know he's no Flying Scotsman.

Tillerman said...

You are right Pat. Mr Hayward is no Scotsman - even though he does fly a lot. He was born in the charming English country town of Slough, famous as the home of Mars Bars and the setting of the BBC version of The Office.

BeachComber said...

He should have gone jet skiing in the Lake District. Lower profile you see. Or better yet, water skiing. Bigger boat, burn more oil, make more noise and much bigger wake for enhanced waterfront erosion.

Carol Anne said...

I seem to recall Slough as a place the aroma of which one had to endure on the way in to London.

Or maybe the railway just happened to pass through a particularly industrialized part of it.

Tillerman said...

The delicious aromas of the Mars factory, not to mention the slightly less delicious aromas of the Slough Sewage Treatment Works, are all part of the Slough experience. The "particularly industrialized part" is the Slough Trading Estate, the largest industrial estate in single private ownership in Europe.

bonnie said...

Heah heah! Well said! Bravo! clapclapclapclapclapclapclap!

bonnie said...

PS - Do they call the mingled aromas of chocolate and sewage the Slough Pee-yew?

Carol Anne said...

I don't recall ever smelling the chocolate, but definitely remember the sewage works. I seem to remember also some petrochemical-ish stuff.

Anonymous said...

Funny really but although BP are the company under whose auspices the platform concerned is being run, the nature of the buisness is that there are lots of subcontractors actually doing the work. Thus in all likelyhood the people on the platform who made the mistakes that led to the disaster are American, Yes folks USA Engineers. So whilst I have a great deal of concern over this ecological and economic disaster, it is a bit two faced of the USA to lay all the blame at one door.
If the US authorities had been more involved in ensuring good practice and adherance to safe working standards then maybe this would not have happened.

Doc Häagen-Dazs said...

"Two-faced"? Hey Mac, if you're anonymous, how many faces do you have?

Anonymous said...

Why do you think I remain annonymous?
The point I make stands.

Doc Häagen-Dazs said...

I have no idea. Just wish you could spell it correctly.

Anonymous said...

Ah! yet another deflection from the point.

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