Dear industry colleagues,

I believe it’s time to start throwing some solid punches to speed the process of getting our industry back up and running! We all know how important it is to get the Autumn schedule of shows off the ground. However, it is now some three weeks since Informa boss, Stephen Carter, said that he felt too many parties are jostling for positions to represent the industry. We are way behind so many other sectors in presenting what is, after all, an overwhelming case for the trade and economic activity we can generate to aid recovery from this crisis. I even heard the Potato Growers Association on Radio 4 last week saying how important it is for chip shops to re-open…and they have!

So, here’s three of those punches:

1) The lockdown is unfolding far too slowly for our industry. In case, it hasn’t occurred to you yet, those setting the pace are doing so without any personal pain. Not one single civil servant, public sector administrator, bureaucrat or politician is losing a penny whether they are working or not. ALL the hurt is on the private sector. Perspective is absolutely key here. Us event folk are all gagging to get back to being operational, and responsibly so. However, despite everyone knowing how important it is for our children to get back in their classrooms, many teachers are reluctant to return next week. I guarantee that if they were currently losing one-fifth of their household income, the focus would be different!

2) It IS a ‘nanny’ state right now! Boris’s words last Sunday evening were thoroughly depressing. He added outdoor markets and car dealerships to the list of those that can return to work with the Estate Agents & garden centres. Why do the bureaucrats believe that these sectors can be trusted to work out how to operate in a socially distanced way, yet we, along with hairdressers, restaurants, cafes and bars, charity shops (pretty damn important!) and non-essential retail can’t? The latter can open in a month from now. Again, no pain for those setting the rules and there is absolutely no need to wait that long. We need to tell our government to let retailers and the tourism, trade shows, events and hospitality sectors prove they can do it. The great British public will vote with their feet! If the beaches at Southend-on-Sea are allowed to fill up without any regulation, we need to fight harder to be allowed to do our thing, our thoroughly professional, self-regulated thing.

3) Do we already have herd immunity? SIX Premier league footballers from just three teams tested positive for Covid-19 last week with NO symptoms. Wow, what percentage of the population have these antibodies in their systems?? How about a shift in government tactics from testing for who has it, to ‘who has had it’? What a game changer that would be! How about campaigning for 100,000 antibody tests a day instead of the ‘have you got it’ test?

"It’s the economy, stupid!" We now know what we know (which is much more than 2 months ago!). The death toll is horrible but diminishing. The priority must switch now to economic recovery. We know who the vulnerable are. Let the state help those who can’t help themselves (Nursing Home residents) and let the rest, including my 79 year old parents, friends with diabetes and friends in ethnic minorities make their own decisions – they’ll make the right calls!

Who can I help with getting this in the national print and broadcast press? They seem to be getting bored with the Dominic Cummings witch-hunt now! 


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