Wednesday, April 17, 2013

The lady who wasn't for turning

I was just 8 years old when I went with my parents to the polling station near our home in North London. I knew nothing of politics, nor the economic trauma that the UK was suffering from other than experiencing the power cuts we had been having at home. Over candle light, I was told about the reasons and explained about the 3 day week. At the polling station, my mum and dad each took me into the booths with them and guided me as to which name to mark an "X" against. At that age, to me, the name I marked may as well have been Mickey Mouse, but it turned out the choice of Margaret Thatcher was significant and historical. The next morning, I remember waking up with my father excitedly showing me the newspaper, letting me know that I had voted in Great Britain's first female Prime Minister.

Maggie Thatcher reigned supreme throughout my school days and my formative years of having any interest in politics and her influence formed many of my opinions on economics and international affairs. It was a time of economic turmoil in the UK with trade unions destroying he countries competativeness and the Cold War raging on Europe's Eastern front, and this formidable lady led the country with energy and guts and by example through some of the best years it has ever seen.

Through strikes, wars and European Union, Maggie Thatcher led with conviction and selflessness. In comparison to the bulk of todays politicians who appear to be concerned only about their own image, legacy and their next election, the Iron Lady always did what she thought was right. Her fight to reach the top was not easy and she had scant regard for popularity contests … for her this was a cause, to which she dedicated her life. She made Britain great again following a time that it had been on its knees.

With especial consideration to the time during which she led, she cut a divisive figure. Loved by some but despised by others, I find it hard to believe that today people look back on her legacy and still don't unanimously agree that she was game changer for Britain, and for the better. She led Britain to economic and political power globally. She stood shoulder to shoulder with Ronald Reagan and Mikhael Gorbachev. She had a cabinet that is, in my opinion, yet to be matched in terms of strength, ability and confidence, and led them with a confidence that had not been seen since Winston Churchill and certainly has not been repeated since.

Her "downfall" after 11 years in charge may have been inevitable. During her time, the country had changed. The Britain that Maggie had inherited had long gone and in its place was a more prosperous land. There was new confidence in the people around her who felt they may be better placed to take the reigns. People who felt Maggie had had her time and felt she was no longer in touch with the political needs of the country. During this time the geo-political landscape had turned almost 180 degrees and while I personally don't agree that Mrs. Thatcher had lost her touch, change is inevitable and change is (for the most part) good, so perhaps her time had duly run its course. It's just such a shame in how her term came to end. While it would have been appropriate for her to have a respectful send off for all she did for the country and the world, it may in fact have been fitting that she went down fighting rather than gradually disappearing into the distance. She wasn't the type to roll over to the whims of others.

Margaret Thatcher, a grocers daughter from Grantham made more than a mark on the world and played an influential role in my life … not only from own personal learnings, but also from being able to benefit from living in the better and safer world that she was so instrumental in creating and shaping.

Thank you Maggie… Even if you aren't missed by all, you will certainly never be forgotten.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

A new WEIGH to fly

I delayed posting this entry to avoid it being taken as an April Fools joke.

Samoa Air just announced a revolutionary new fare policy for their flights ... "Pay as you weigh".

Personally, I think its a stroke of genius. no doubt controversial, but it makes perfect commercial sense and is a bold move by a marginal carrier in doing something really innovative in airline ticket pricing.

A slimmed down version of me can obviously see the benefits of this, but my larger brethren will no doubt be the ones who see fault in this change.

I fly frequently, and usually with little luggage, but I have also been caught out sometimes with excess. This pinches me most, not because of the extortionate amounts airlines charge for this, but for 2 other reasons:

1) I fly so often without using my baggage "allowance" that I feel I should somehow get credit for that on the few occasions I go over (after all, the airline is making additional profit on my seat on those days I am travelling "lite"), and

2) Airlines profitability (amongst several other technical things) is based upon filling capacity at the minimum weight possible, but there are those that are heavier than others and that will affect the flight economics, and yet the baggage allowance granted to all is the same!

As the airline put it themselves,"You are the master of your airfare ... Your weight plus your baggage items is what you pay for. Simple."

They say they are keeping airfares fair, and I think that sounds right. Turn up at the airport, put your luggage on the scales, pop on the scales then yourself and your ticket price is calculated.

I do see some technical issues with this in so far as how you book in advance! I suppose you have to put your weight into the booking system and get your fare. There are bound to be a number of ladies (and some gents) trying to get away with white lies at that point, and then how tactful do the check in staff have to be with those culprits when they turn up at the check in desk!

I dont see this transforming the airline industry worldwide overnight ( I am guessing Samoa Air can get away with it as they are presumably a virtual monopoly where they fly), but I think it is very interesting to see a traditional business take a really fresh look at how things are done and be courageous enough to challenge a generations old status quo.

I think that's good innovation and I hope it works for them ... it's good enough motivation for me to keep the weight off!