Keynote speakers of mass distraction

The following two tabs change content below.
Martin Moodie
Martin Moodie is the Founder & Chairman of The Moodie Report.

With five of the last seven weeks spent on the road, it’s been tough to keep up with my blogging despite a wealth of material to talk about.

So let’s play catch-up through this week. First, the response to my criticism of former Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard’s lousy speech at the TFWA Asia Pacific show in Singapore. Wow…

Predictably, TFWA and closely related sources did not like what I said. Fair enough, diversity of opinion is healthy though I remain of the opinion that this was the worst choice of keynote speaker in TFWA’s fine 30-year history. I would still like to know (and I think it should be made public) how much this notoriously anti-duty free industry figure was paid to give a speech and then not have to face questions on her government’s decision to critically damage our industry [by slashing the inbound tobacco allowance from 250 sticks to 50] following a shamefully pitiful level of consultation. It’s a bit like asking Mario Montio (architect of the abolition of intra-EU duty free in 1999) along and agreeing to no awkward questions.

To defend the ‘no questions please’ policy on the basis that Ms Gillard may have further embarrassed the duty free tobacco sector is ridiculous. Why put her on the stage in the first place then? So how much was that fee again?

But hey, in my efforts to balance the piece by mentioning what I considered to be her finest hour (the famous ‘misogyny speech’), I opened another hornets’ nest. E-mail after e-mail arrived at Moodie HQ questioning Ms Gillard’s credentials to speak on the subject of misogyny at all. Take a look at the feedback at the bottom of the Blog and you’ll see what I mean.

I’ll stick to my guns. The parliamentary speech was great oratory, on an important subject, whoever wrote it (some of my critics claimed it was written by a man, though I don’t see why that’s relevant). And her Singapore speech was lousy, whoever wrote it – man or woman. Ms Gillard’s assistant (or speechwriter, he didn’t say) Bruce Wolpe also tore into me, noting: “I was so shocked and disappointed that your [sic] reporting on Ms Gillard’s speech yesterday.  It did not jibe at all with the comments afterwards she received from dozens of delegates and the leadership of the TFWA.”

Maybe Bruce should have spoken to a few retailers in the audience as well as TFWA leaders. He may have found my comments not only ‘jibed’ but were probably viewed as understated.

I know full well the common opinion on Ms Gillard in many quarters of Australia but I do think (sorry to my many friends in that fine country) there is the occasional blind spot there on the very real issue of sexism. So I’ll console myself with the thought that if my Blog attracted such heat from both TFWA sources and anti-Gillard sections of the Australian community, it might just have been a pretty balanced piece…

Heaven knows what hell will break loose comment-wise on the choice of former US Secretary of State Colin Powell as the keynote speaker at this October’s TFWA World Exhibition in Cannes.

Like many others, I have huge admiration for Powell’s acheivements as an Afro American and most of his glittering military career. I have read his excellent and compelling autobiography ‘A Soldier’s Way’. But let’s not forget that he was (albeit reluctantly) a key part of a regime that (like that of Tony Blair in the UK) lied to the people about weapons of mass destruction and set off a chain of events in the Middle East that are still being played out to this very day.

Events that have killed and maimed thousands upon thousands of Iraqis, Americans, British and many other nationalities. The liar and mass murderer Tony Blair said at the weekend that the invasion of Iraq (he would call it ‘intervention’) and today’s crisis are unrelated [prompting London Mayor Boris Johnson to respond “I have come to the conclusion that Tony Blair has finally gone mad. In discussing the disaster of modern Iraq he made assertions that are so jaw-droppingly and breathtakingly at variance with reality that he surely needs professional psychiatric help.”]

They’re not unrelated events, of course. Colin Powell made his infamous Iraq presentation at the United Nations on 5 February 2003. He subsequently said publically,  “There is no doubt in my mind” that Iraq had reconstituted a nuclear weapons programme. But according to Larry Wilkerson, Powell’s Chief of Staff:  [Powell] had walked into my office musing and he said words to the effect of, ‘I wonder how we’ll all feel if we put half a million troops in Iraq and march from one end of the country to the other and find nothing’.”

The USA did put the troops in and indeed they found nothing. And the rest is history. Miserable, miserable history. That’s not to say Powell shouldn’t speak in Cannes – he’s a decent, highly intelligent man who did at least try to balance the mad hawkishness of George Bush’s closest advisors. But let’s hope he will at least take questions on the subject. And please TFWA, don’t follow up with Tony Blair. Or, God forbid, George Bush.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published.

  • Oh dear!

    Whilst I was not in SNG, I do value coverage of events to be as people see them and not as others would wish them to be seen and it is a great pity that your open and honest coverage was treated as described.

    Launching a new product, store style or conference will always attract those “who like” and “those who do not”. Both should be welcomed as it is an opportunity to improve for the next time and having a series of nodding dogs is unlikely to further anything.

    Stick with your principles!