Thursday, June 10, 2010

Time For Cameron To Tell Obama: Enough

Well done Boris. On the Today Programme this morning he had a go at Barack Obama for his "anti British" rhetoric over the BP situation. It is his comments yesterday which led to 16 per cent of BP's share value being wiped away. And as the Telegraph says this morning on its front page: "Obama's boot on the throat of British pensioners".

America is a very important ally to this country. But that shouldn't stop the British Prime Minister making the strongest of representations to Obama to 'cease and desist' in his increasingly venemous personal campaign to destabilise BP. I hope David Cameron has the balls to ring Obama today for 'a full and frank discussion' - diplomatic language for a blazing row.


Sean Haffey said...

Absolutely right.

subrosa said...

I was hoping David Cameron had phoned Obama before now to complain. It's a disgrace Obama's behaviour in his attempt to show America he's 'on top of it' since he was criticised.

Isn't DC in Afghanistan today speaking to the corrupt head of the government?

JMB said...

Obama is a Chicago politician and is behaving like one. He has cancelled a trip to Australia to "deal with the oil leak" i.e. to get as much political capital out of it as he can.

I suspect that some in American business are hoping they can either weaken BP or even buy the American part of the business.

There was a good letter in the Telegraph from someone working in the oil industry in Aberdeen, it said how there had been many accidents in the North Sea involving American companies but never the xenophobia being whipped up by Obama.

WCH said...

The more this continues, the more it is quite plainly the case that there is a bear market action being used against the BP share price, under the cover of a political row.

It won't be too long before Exxon and Texaco etc. are satisfied that the price is sufficiently low for them to buy out BP's American arm, resulting in a massive leeching of equity from the UK to the US, and the slow death of pension funds as BP ceases to pay dividends through lack of asset backing.

Mr. Cameron really needs to do something NOW, because it will be too late when the shareholder offer is made by the big oil companies in the US.

Steve said...

Toatally agree Iain. Obama is using this accident to
gain popular opinion as opposed to actually doing something.
Blaming BP for this on a US rig is a joke. BP should have handled it better, but it is a terrible accident.
Obama has almost made this a personal vendetta against BP and is acting like a bully. BP need to man up and tell jim to stop or there may be consequences to the US.

engliscdragon said...

Isn't David in Afghanistan today ? Might have to wait a bit :-)

Ean Craigie said...

I work in oil and gas and have done for over 40 years, I have done work for BP and have absolutely no sympathy for them. Obama is a talking head who seems intent on running his country into the ground ala Gordon Brown. BP and Obama are made for each other.

Deep drilling is pushing the boundaries of the industry, this should lead to better standards not re-election.

Stephen Gillespie said...

There is an excellent piece on these issues by david Blackburn at Stpectator on-line. Some of the comments to his piece are, however, more than a little disturbing.

Unsworth said...

Damn right. Obama and the Americans should learn that we have supported them in their lunatic adventures at the considerable cost of our own blood and treasure. Why should we continue to do this? Why does Obama think a multi-national company owes him anything at all? It's a completely cretinous position. What is Obama doing about Occidental? What was his position over Union Carbide or Exxon?

This man is a severe danger to America and to America's allies. I have no faith in his judgements which are all based on local politics. He is no Statesman. A major re-appraisal of our relationship with the USA is long overdue.

It's a very simple question - do we trust them?

voiceofourown said...

The 'special' relationship is that of imperial master and client state.
The US will lend us their authority and support when it suits and withdraw it when it doesn't.
Obama's actions just obviate that.
Maybe that's why so many UK establishment noses are out of joint.
They know what the arrangement is BUT they don't want the pretense undermined.

javelin said...

Obama is try to deflect criticism away from himself.

The woman (forgot her name) has already been sacked.

Bottom line is that the well is 1 mile down and the regulations are the same for 100ft down as 1000ft.

BPs equipment failed, but so did Obamas admistration.

DespairingLiberal said...

I'm sorry, but this is just hot air and nonsense by Boris Johnson.

BP would have been financially severely attacked over this under any US President. Are you really saying that their share price slide began with Obama's remarks yesterday??

No matter what, BP will be handing over a tanker load of money. The only question is how much. That's what the markets don't know and that's why the shares are down. The primary driver of their depressed share price is the possibility of a fall or cancellation in dividends.

As for Obama's remarks, if Britain were faced with a US drilling company's failures resulting in the coastline being drowned in oil for years to come, do you not think that Cameron would be yelling from the rooftops?

For goodness sakes get a grip and stop being pathetic little Tory-town ya-boys pratting about.

davidc said...

@javelin - b.p.'s equipment failed'

i understood the rig was owned by transocean (a swiss registered company) and the critical blow out preventer has connections with haliburton (a us company so well known from its association with dick cheney)

has pres. obama been as critical of either of these companies ?

Paddy Briggs said...

Totally disagree with you on this Iain. There is nothing "Anti British" about Obama's position. BP is a British company - but it is very strong in the US as well following Amoco and other takeovers - and it has many American shareholders both individual and corporate. I believe that Obama would have acted no differently if it had been Exxon/Mobil rather than BP.

The Telegraph's "Obama's boot on the throat of British pensioners" is rubbish as well. I am a Trustee of a large Pension Fund and that fund has £25m invested in BP which is the fourth largest Equity holding we have. However that BP investment represents only only 0.19% of our total investment portfolio!


Britain needs to realise the Obamination is a disgrace to the US presidency.
He is a failure at economics, diplomacy, everything.
He is an extreme socialist.
He is pro-Islam on foreign policy.
Then, there is his shady past to consider from his mysterious birth, hidden college records, terrorist connections, etc.
Surely MI5 can investigate him.
We saw his anti-British feelings when he returned that bust of Churchill, gave the Queen some DVDs and was rude to Gordon Brown.
It is time Britain and the world treated the Obamination as he should be, the Pariah President.

Kcila said...

I totally agree with Unsworth.

Union Carbide? 35,000 deaths. Not one American prosecuted and refusal after refusal for the extradition of the Yankee directors responsible for that terrible slaughter.

When the US come asking with
extradition warrents Cameron must tell them to sod off.

When American agrees to allow its directors to be extradited or even its armed forces to appear at UK inquests into friendly fire deaths then maybe we should play ball but until then we should say No!

Well done Boris!

George said...

Special relationship?
Hands across the sea?


Roosevelt only supported us in '39-7th Dec '41 as he realised that the American economy was hitting the buffers and tanking again. Ensuring that we kept American industry on the go with our arms orders staved off a second depression. In doing so the Americans bleed us dry, the terms were Cash and Carry, so there were no favours. Indeed the Treasury and Bank of England seized/sequestrated all foreign assets owned bu UK nationals and sold them. American assets were cheaply sold, at knock down prices to US buyers who got the deal of the century. Those monies were then expended on purchasing US manufactured goods, often at exhorbitant prices for crap.
So Uncle Sam reamed us right royally.

That has been the relationship, America looks after No 1, and shafts its allies, provided they know their place and don't kick up a fuss.

Obama has gone too far with his rhetoric against BP.

BP's US ops are run and managed by Yankees.

BP has a significant input into the US economy.

BP was licensed by the Americans for the deep water drilling. They wanted the bloody oil.

TransOcean is a Swiss Company. It was their rig which suffered a catastrophic failure.

Time that was Obama was told to back off and get real and be helpful, constructive rather than destructive.

We all know that he has mid-term elections coming up and his popularity in the polls has tanked, big time. The likihood he gets wipes in these elections. But BP and the oil spill is not a political football.

Full and frank discussion is necessary. Also mentioning that BP shares are 35% held in the form of ADR's thru New York, so he's hurting his own people.


Mirtha Tidville said...

Obama`s inexperience of life and politics is showing through here. In fact he`s beginning to make George Bush look good. The only thing he was good at was talking the talk on the hustings.I wonder how many would now vote for John McCain given the chance?

I have little doubt he is a one term wonder. You can only keep the `New Messiah` routine going for so long.

I`m just fearful of how much worldwide damage he might blunderingly do before the Coup de Grace arrives.

engliscdragon said...

Quite worrying hearing about the chatter going around in the US. They seem to think that they can engineer a situation where they can get BP on the cheap - companies like Exxon which is apparently cash rich atm.

javelin said...

Just want to add a balanced comment.

Because this leak is a mile below the surface the oil takes a long while to get to the surface and is pushed around by undersea currents.

This is not just a curiosity because the size of the fine paid by BP is dependent on how much oil leaks.

As you can imagine figuring out how much oil has leaked is going to be quite difficult. Listening to Bloomberg you hear messages saying the US coastguard reckons the oil leak is 35k barrels per day rather than the original 10k barrels. This has a huge cost implication.

This has another implication that when the cost to rectify the damage gets above 10% of the of the saftey measures the US courts shifts the description from negligence to gross negligence. This has legal implications for criminal proceedings. So expect there to be disagreements on cost estimates.

Also against BP they have promoted thselves with the green flower as an environmentally friendly company - against other oil companies. Yet - they stuck to the same low grade risk prevention as other oil companies.

So whilst I think Obama is showing some political cowardace I also think BP is looking a bit scummy by pushing a green words whilst having black oily actions when it comes to saftey.

HampsteadOwl said...

At least in America, they can take some pride in the fact that nearly half of the voters saw through Obama and didn't vote for him. In this country, if you met somebody who didn't think Obama was the saviour of the universe, public opinion would have thought about having him either stuffed or sectioned.

More fool us, because by then we should already have learned from the Blair experience about rushing towards a politician who offered absolutely nothing except what Sarah Palin memorably called the hopey-changey thing.

It may be true that a President McCain would have been equally vocal against BP as a way of looking tough in a hopeless situation. What seems very true is that Obama is viscerally anti-British in a way that other US presidents haven't been or hopefully won't be again in the future. That is bad news and I fear that some choice words from David Cameron isn't going to do a lot about it. They need to be said though.

Ian said...

In view of the way President Obama is treating a major UK company including seeking extra territorial jurisdiction by seeking to forbid BP from paying its sharegolders a divided, is it not time to contact him and to tell him that all British Armed Forces will be withdrawn from Afghanistan by Sunday, June 20th?

Ian said...

In view of the way President Obama is treating a major UK company including seeking extra territorial jurisdiction by seeking to forbid BP from paying its sharegolders a divided, is it not time to contact him and to tell him that all British Armed Forces will be withdrawn from Afghanistan by Sunday, June 20th?

Unsworth said...

@ Paddy Briggs

'BP is a British company'

Rubbish. It should be surprising that someone who apparently worked for Shell for 37 years would get this basic information wrong, but perhaps not in your case.

Check your facts:

In any event, almost all of those who were directly responsible are Americans, contracted or sub-contracted to BP. So much for American 'expertise'.

And, for good measure, with 39% of the shareholding being American owned Obama's actions themselves are directly financially damaging large numbers of Americans. All of which emphasises that Obama is simply attempting to politicise the whole matter - to his own benefit.

Trust the United States?


Liberalhammer said...


You are overlooking a couple of points. Firstly 40% of BP shareholders are American, so Obama is hitting his own shareholders just as much. And BP is responsible for the damage, even if it was American subcontractors at fault. You can't delegate responsibility.

Finally, a politician having a go at foreigners for political advantage? You'll be moaning about bears defecating in the woods next.

Paddy Briggs said...


Let me help you. Most multinational companies, wherever their head offices are, have substantial international shareholders and that often means American shareholders are quite dominant. So it is with BP. But BP is most certainly a British company (otherwise why would DC be making the call to Obama?). To help you further here is Wikipedia's description - which is as good as any:

BP plc is a British global energy company which is the third largest energy company and the fourth largest company in the world. As a multinational oil company ("oil major"), BP is the UK's largest corporation, with its headquarters in St James's, City of Westminster, London.

I don't mind your gratuitous insults - I'm used to them. But you really should inform yourself better before you start throwing the manure!

Unsworth said...

@ Paddy Briggs

So your definition of nationality revolves around where a company Headquarters is?

Ridiculous. So the shareholders don't own the company, the country where the HQ is owns the company - or provides its nationality.

Where do you want to get to with this? What about companies based in Guernsey, Lichtenstein, Switzerland, the Caymans, Belize etc etc? And what about subsidiaries - some of which may dwarf their parents?

Never mind your researches in Wikipedia (which has been known to get things remarkably wrong) - ask your pals in the city who owns BP. It's no more British than Royal Dutch Shell.

You really need to get an understanding of multi-nationals if you're acting as a trustee of a large pension fund. The location of any multinational's HQ is almost irrelevant. BP could lift its HQ out of the UK in 24 hours - and still be BP. J K Galbraith is your friend, he's got some pertinent views.

Remind us, what's Obama's position on Occidental? Is he screaming about them?

javelin said...

Just to firm up some figures.

28th May BP press release said 274k barrels (since 22nd April). So in 36 days they reckoned 7.6k barrels a day.

However Ian McDonald from Florida State Uni reckoned 26-30k barrels per day.

That's fours times more than BP admited.

It doesn't look like BP fessed up fast enough, so I would say Hayward needs to go ASAP. We can't have one rule for politicians and another for FTSE chairmen.

Jimmy said...

"I hope David Cameron has the balls to ring Obama today for 'a full and frank discussion'"

"Speaking to reporters in Afghanistan, Mr Cameron refused to follow suit, instead offering his backing to Washington.

He said: "I completely understand the US government's frustration because it's catastrophic for the environment.

He added: "BP needs to do everything it can to clear up the situation.

"The most important thing is to mitigate the effects and get to the root of the problem. [torygraph]

That'll teach Obama to tangle with Dave Lightweight.

longrun2 said...

BP is a British-domiciled international company.

p smith said...

It is all academic anyway. Dave has today confirmed that he agrees with Obama. Your great leader has spoken and (surprise surprise) he's going to bend over and take it. The new politics continues apace.

But fret not. Dave has promised to fly the English flag over No 10 during the World Cup so he's standing up for this country as he promised he would. I've got goosebumps just thinking about it.

cyberboris said...

Well done Boris indeed.

SKY NEWS just said it was significant that David Cameron has not slapped Boris down. Does Boris speak the truths that others dare not utter?

Jimmy said...

He has also responded today to the Taleban's lynching of the seven year old son of one of our allies by committing the UK to running away at the earliest opportunity and leaving them to it.

Anyone else detecting a pattern here?

ukelect said...

Tony Hayward has said some daft things that have given Obama the opportunity to have a go. Perhaps Hayward ought to step down.

Libertarian said...

It might pay Obama to find someone in his administration with a brain. If he wants to escalate this into an Anglo/American damages claim war he might ask some of the Goldman Sachs Execs that prop him up to explain how many 100's of Billions of dollars the US investment banks lost by selling RBS, Northern Rock etc worthless CDO's amongst other things.

@Paddy Briggs

You do talk the most amazing level of horse crap.

BP is a multinational company listed on the Frankfurt, New York and London stock exchanges. The Chairman is a Swede 6 board Directors are Brits and 6 are US citizens. BP employs 8,000 people in the UK and 25,000 in the USA. 39% of it's stock is owned by UK based funds and individuals 41% of it's stock is owned by US funds and individuals.

The company started off as Anglo Persian Oil early years of 20th century. They bought British Petroleum from a German Company in 1925 ( it operated British petrol stations on behalf of German oil co) The company was renamed Anglo Iranian oil when that country changed its name. It finally changed the name of the whole group to BP in the 1960's .

The only time it was called British Petroleum is when it was owned by a German company .

DespairingLiberal said...

BP is just an example of a company that once upon a time in it's history belonged to one national entity (Britain) but has long since become a global multinational. It is no longer "British" any more than Walmart is "US" or Sony is "Japanese" - they are all globally owned multinationals.

US politicians are repeatedly calling it "British Petroleum" for purely domestic political motives.

Transocean and Halliburton, the two companies strongly implicated in the incident are both offshored former US-domiciled global multinationals. Not a murmer about them from those same US politicians.

BP does have a track record though of safety cutbacks for cost reasons. The chief instigator of those cutbacks was Browne (Wikipedia: John Browne, Baron Browne of Madingley) who is now a senior Tory advisor.

Details of the way Browne's cuts at BP negatively affected safety are in this week's Private Eye.

Jimmy said...

"SKY NEWS just said it was significant that David Cameron has not slapped Boris down. "

Indeed it is. It shows he's equally scared to stand up to Boris.

Portia's Mom said...

During the presidential election campaign of 2008, I was stunned to hear so many Tories endorsing Obama. Boris was one of them, if I'm not mistaken. In a sense, no one should complain about Obama's treatment of BP, he regularly shows disdain for all private business. And he has real animus toward Britain, as he has toward Israel.

Vienna Woods said...

Not often that I read Guido nowadays, but a reply to one of his posts, I found rather amusing.....

Dear America,

As a way to say thank you for giving us thousands of shit films, hundreds of shit ‘comedy’ shows, and McDonalds, please accept our gift of 20,000,000 gallons of crude oil – we weren’t sure where you wanted it, so we left it just by Louisiana for you.

Lots of love, Britain x