The headline comes via one of the London Assembly members with whom I discussed TfL’s ‘accidental’ agreement to join the UAE’s trade embargo against Israel.
And tragically it seems they’re right.
It’s clear from yesterday and today’s statements that TfL believes this whole row is a misunderstanding on the part of others. In TfL’s reality they’ve done nothing wrong, which is why they’ve failed to apologise for the widespread concern and offence their cock-up has generated.
In its latest statement TfL says:
“The intention behind it was always to give Emirates the option to withdraw their sponsorship should we sell the Emirates Air Line to someone else, something which is common in such contracts.”
And it’s true. Protections for partners should one of them be taken over by a competitor of the other – or even just taken over – are very common practice.
But breach of contract clauses triggered solely due to the nationality of the acquiring party are far less common. largely because most businesses aren’t owned by Governments looking to further their prejudices through their commercial dealings.
TfL’s statement continues:
“We will work on, and publish, alternative wording to express this in these simple terms.”
See, it’s our fault for perceiving the clause to be anti-Israeli. Just as it’s our fault for perceiving that opening a window and letting some breeze in makes one cooler when travelling by bus.
Nothing is ever TfL’s fault.
Which is why I’m disappointed that Boris, having done the right thing by ordering TfL to clean up the mess it caused, placed himself in the firing line at today’s Mayor’s Question Time and soaked up the anger and criticism of Assembly Members.
Very noble of him, but TfL’s bosses need to start being responsible for the mistakes they preside over.
At the very least, one of them need to issue a clear apology, not for other people’s perceptions, but for their error in singing up to a contract obligating London to follow the foreign policy of a country which discriminates against an entire nation.
And if TfL really does find clauses targeting whole nations commonly popping up in contract negotiations, it’s doing deals with the wrong people.