Shutting the stable door...

The local government is planning to spend many millions of pesetas on trying to improve the image of the Balearics in Germany and Britain following the nightmare coach driver's strike. If this money had been spent during the strike on making sure that tourists were as comfortable as possible under the circumstances and provided with free food, drink and entertainment then a campaign of this type would not be needed. Infact, I believe the image of the Balearic Islands would have probably been enhanced. Industrial action, sometimes, cannot be averted- The local government knew well in advance that there was a danger that this strike could go ahead. A fraction of the money now being dedicated for this campaign could have spent on providing comfort for tourists stranded at the airport or resort. But everyone is reacting now that the dispute is well and truly over. Action should have been taken on the weekend of June 29-July 1, not now. I would have thought that many people in Britain and Germany have already made-up their minds to go elsewhere after seeing the chaotic scenes at Balearic airports on television. Writing to travel agents across Britain is all very well but is it really going to make much difference?

In this column in the past I have warned about the dangers of becoming complacent and believing that tourists will come back year after year whatever happens. The hoteliers have already said that we are heading for a “terrible season.” The local government must understand that tourism is our lifeblood and everything must be done to ensure that tourists are content.

Jason Moore

Hague's last question

What has William Hague been doing since June 8 when he resigned the leadership of the Conservative Party? Relaxing over a few pints at the local, no doubt. And, for a short while, enjoying the discomfiture of the candidates to replace him as their hopes see–sawed during the past two weeks of polling – until he saw the man he sent into Euro exile in 1997 emerging as the parliamentary party's first choice. Mr Hague must also have been spending some time with his back numbers of Hansard because he told the House of Commons yesterday, during his final appearance at Prime Minister's Questions, that while leader of the Opposition he had asked Mr Blair 1'118 questions. It seemed for a moment that we were going to be treated to a TV selection of “The Best of William Hague”, and the House probably hoped that it would include the prize moment when he pointed out that a new sports centre in Sheffield described as ”completed” in Labour's annual report had not even had its foundations dug.

It is probably true to say that Mr Hague's weekly appearances at Prime Minister's Questions were the finest half–hours of his time in the job of Opposition leader. For a year or so he often bested Mr Blair and in doing so pricked the balloon of Labour's over–confidence. But in the end it became clear that debating skill is no substitute for sound policies. As Mr Hague moved – or allowed himself to be pushed – to the wilder shores of rightist policies the hollowness of his rhetoric became only too apparent. Still, he was fun while he lasted.



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