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19 Jun 2017
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Opinion: Our true leaders came to the rescue in a crisis

It’s been a saddening yet inspiring few weeks. I’ve gone from not knowing who Ariana Grande was to being one of the many who would vote for her to be our prime minister.

Opinion Jo Rzymowska

Taking swift action, showing huge compassion, behaving with dignity and displaying a human touch are all things we’ve seen from the 23-year-old. I wish the same were true of our political leaders; indeed, the pre-election TTG Debate saw panellists bemoan the low calibre of candidates.


We are always told to put a cross in a box based on a party rather than a leader, but when public profile matters so much, that is hard to do. These days, every facial expression is scrutinised. Leaders are under immense pressure to do the right thing and to be fully transparent, and that’s difficult to get right.


The recent British Airways systems outage and grounding of so many flights showed how vital it is to be in control, to have facts and updates and to have your people onside. I’m sure everyone at BA worked like demons to put things right, but unfortunately some areas of their response were seen to lack the human touch a little.


That weekend, we at Celebrity Cruises had our own challenges with a ship delayed in its return from dry dock. By no means did we get everything right. Holidays are hard-worked-for and important times of year for people. When things go wrong, we have a lot to answer for.


We did our best to send as many of our people as possible to meet guests and explain what was happening. I returned to my repping days and checked people into flights so they didn’t miss their trips to the Monaco Grand Prix. We hope our efforts made a small difference to our guests and trade partners and we appreciate it wasn’t ideal.


Being there, in the action, is crucial when things are not as they should be. In recent weeks, our political leaders have given speeches as the extent of horrible terrorist events were still coming to light.


Rightly, the media have grilled our political leaders on their security positioning and track records. A hung parliament shows that Theresa May’s “strong and stable” mantra wasn’t enough, and Jeremy Corbyn ran a far stronger and more inclusive campaign.


Reassuring voters that they could be practical and tough in a crisis didn’t come through enough from any party leader, and the public’s real affections have been stolen by those it is impossible not to admire in times of genuine crisis.


The baker who threw crates at an attacker, the off-duty police officer who tried to help the injured on London Bridge, the homeless men who tended the wounded after the Manchester Arena attack, the police officer who danced with children at the One Love concert, and too many other amazing people to mention. They brought people together and represented the best of all of us.


While we don’t have the people’s first choice of prime minister (Miss Grande), our next coalition government certainly has a lot to live up to in terms of leadership.

 

Jo Rzymowska is managing director, UK & Ireland & APAC of Celebrity Cruises

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