I watch the unfolding drama in the Gulf of Mexico with a growing sense of frustrated unfairness.
Of course BP are responsible. Of course BP are liable. Of course BP are due a good kicking from every politician to every journalist through the environmentalists and naturalists on the way.
But are they totally and solely to blame?
Clearly Mother Nature is beating the technology. (another reminder of our insignificance as if that pesky volcano wasn’t enough!) But why are they drilling through a seabed a mile under the surface in the first place, where divers can’t operate and where there is no experience of dealing with problems? Because the American Government has encouraged them. In the name of a gas-guzzling electorate BP have been urged to provide them with their daily petrofix without drilling in any more of the shallow parts of the Gulf.
This same Government now constantly calling the miscreant British Petroleum when it changed its name to BP some ten years ago. A good bit of Brit bashing to de-Americanise the issue never harmed a political career in Washington. This same Government that is conveniently omitting to join in the American operator and the American construction company that surely must be in the blame-shouldering up to their balance sheets.
And before we all indulge in helping to diminish the value of the UK’s largest company even further with the self-righteous smirk of the “told you so” brigade just remember that BP provides around 15% of all dividend income into our pension funds and last year paid the UK Treasury some £6 billion in tax … a figure that has a familiar “cutting” ring to it.
BP are responsible and on every front and at every level they must discharge that responsibility in full now and for probably decades to come.
BP were enjoying the profits of all this and so the losses are theirs as well.
BP could have stepped up to the plate more quickly and been more politically astute.
BP will rightly continue to get it in the neck.
There are many others diverting blame here, happy to allow BP’s public beheading to put distance between a justifiably angry public and any presumed or actual guilt.
There are many others who should take a long hard look in the mirror before being so quick to point the finger … and one group that should be doing that is the gas guzzling, dividend enjoying, tax receiving public … ourselves.