No Minister – you don't "listen" by leaving your own lunch

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Lord Davies of Abersoch, Minister of State for Trade & Investment is an ex-banker. That was one of his opening lines to a crowd of about 150 business people at a UK Trade and Investment lunch today at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona. You would expect then that cutting and running – like a few bankers we could mention – would not be a great move from a Minister three weeks into the job. He declared that “he was here to listen” and get answers about the mobile business – even going to the lengths of asking everyone to email him their suggestions for how UKTI can help British businesses and how it can deliver better services.

He asked the panel several reasonable questions. What will aging consumers want from mobiles? What will happen to payments and to the banking industry with mobile? He is also wondering about auto-translation of messaging. And should the very young be on mobiles? How do developing countries use mobiles to develop trade? All good questions. Perhaps in a global recession, three weeks into a job designed to help British business, the Minister concerned would hang around for the answers.

Unfortunately he left before the panel discussion had had a chance to answer his points.

I checked with the UKTI and a spokesman said “It was a bit unfortunate he had to leave and he should have said why he was leaving, which was actually in his written speech but which he didn’t manage to mention at the end. We are trying to cram his diary to get him to as many events as possible at MWC and he had to rush off to give out an award. If there’s a question you want to put we can get an answer to that next week. He’s quite keen to learn about the industry.”

UPDATE, late 2009:: Since this event we’re happy to point out that Lord Davies has done a much better job after this somewhat false start.

  • Peter C

    fantastic post.

  • Jon Knox

    mobile minister

  • Chris Dymond

    “If there’s a question you want to put…” !?


  • Flemming

    This is top-notch journalism: shining the light on the mismatch between words and action.

    Well done!

  • Jake Brumby

    At least he is “quite keen to learn about the industry”.

  • Simon Deane-Johns

    What a phoney (terrible pun, I know)

  • Paul Walsh

    I’m not happy with their response as it demonstrates that they’re shipping him around to ‘show face’, rather than adding value. This is sad to see when people like Mark O’Neill and Tom Watson try to hard to change the perception that Ministers and MPs etc. are… well, we all know what they are.

  • GDI

    Hi tech mobile minister…

  • Max Niederhofer

    ““the global downturn shows we are in an international global economy”

    This isn’t necessarily a truism but an allusion to decoupling, which was all the rage until it was spectacularly falsified:

  • Dan Williams

    This reminds me of a sketch from the ‘Thick of it’ where the minister makes his excuses to leave early from the tour of a factory.

  • Chris - LG Blog

    This could be a scene straight from ‘The Thick Of It’

  • Mobile World Congress 2009 - the mobile industry talks mHealth… « 3G Doctor Blog

    […] A week in Barcelona isn’t without some fun and the moment for me came at the Mobile Monday London/UK Trade & Invest lunch (a big thanks to Helen Keegan for the invitation) held in the beautiful Palau Nacional MontJuic when TechCrunch UK Editor Mike Butcher asked an audience question to the speaker Lord Davies of Abersoch, UK Minister of State for Trade & Investment who had only moments before in his speech said he was “here to listen to the industry”. The organizers had to tell Mike that unfortunately the Minister had already left… that’s right h… […]

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