Opinion from Lord Digby Jones

Verbal Jewels

Published Saturday 18 April, 2015

I am penning these verbal jewels (I appreciate that is a matter of opinion!) from my balcony on board the Seabourn Odyssey as she slips serenely out of Muscat harbour in Oman into the Arabian Sea before heading through the Straits of Hormuz towards the Persian Gulf and Dubai. The sun is setting over the mountains towards Yemen (!), directly across the sea is Pakistan (!!) and by midnight we shall be some twenty miles from Iran (!!!). ....... and this is a holiday!

We have cruised from Singapore via Thailand and South-West India to the Middle-East. My mind is full of new experiences and buzzing with different views and ideas. Here are a few reflections, all of which provide food for thought:-

- in Karela in South-West India, the adult literacy rate is 98%. (In our Country it's 80%, much the same as in Germany, the USA and in France). There are no beggars on the streets (those of you who have been to India will find that hard to believe) and there is virtually full employment. Now what a coincidence!

 - in Goa in West India, Jews, Hindus, Christians and Moslems worship side by side; everyone's energy is directed at getting on, not falling out.......and the place thrives and creates jobs and profits because of it. Strange that, isn't it!

- in Singapore, petty crime, burglary and vandalism is stamped down on, hard. Sentencing is not pleasant. Know what? There is very little crime. How surprising!

 - on board there is a fair mix of Brits, Aussies, Kiwis, Yanks and Canadians. I have not heard one voice disagreeing with the notion that the developed world is suffering an acute lack in leadership. At precisely the time when Mr Putin is playing a good hand very well, when the disaffected youth of many societies (and there were always loads of those; I guess a fair few of us fitted that bill a few decades ago) are being easily swayed by evil men, when so many things that seem blindingly obvious are being ignored or pushed aside in the quest for the political correctness of fear of giving offence, quality, firm, clear leadership is seriously lacking. Leaders are not perfect, they don't get it right every time, but they do lead! Leadership is not just tick-box management; you can't get an A* by starring at multiple choice; people don't like bad news but they prefer it to no news. The current crop, from Berlin to Washington, from London to Paris, from Canberra to Rome, are terrified of their own shadows .....and it shows!