Boat Show for the north

It has been said that the creation of a tabloid newspaper story is like building a gothic castle on the head of a pin. I recalled this metaphor when news broke yesterday that the Liverpool Boat Show had been cancelled.

The usual howls of ‘I told you so,’ could be heard from the jackals of online opinion, but they had a point. We are in the middle of a serious downturn with house prices dropping, unemployment and inflation increasing, yet with red tape for the private sector unfolding like Kafka’s typescripts.

So is it really a good time to run a luxury extravaganza like a THIRD national boat show? I don’t think so, but such is the self-belief of exhibition organisers that their particular gothic castles are constructed on wisps of what the events industry calls ‘vapour-ware.’ Bascially they hope a vapour trail will pull in something tangible like, in this case, marine exhibitors by the hundred.

But so what? Has there ever been any enterprise worth engaging upon which has not started off a bit flaky? I was very disappointed to hear that Liverpool Boat Show was not going ahead. It is a great city, has the longest set of docks in the world and a superb waterfront because of that fact, and is buzzing with expectancy.

I think Marine Industry Events are to be congratulated in their struggle to try and get this show off the ground and saluted for having the guts to pull out rather than disappoint punters with a half-cocked show.

The demise of Liverpool’s Boat Show is symptomatic of a titanic struggle for confidence. The confidence has evaporated because of another, more sinister kind of delusional castle building: the hope that an unemployed caravan dweller in Kansas can afford the four bedroom ranch you’ve just lent him the money for.

There is one bright light in all of this terrible financial mess and that is, come the next election few of us will be in any doubt who to vote for. It has been said of politicians for many years that ‘there’s nothing to choose between them.’ This time there will be. Ed Balls reckons that public debt can be countered by global growth. George Osborne says only slash and burn of the public sector will lead to that growth. They cannot both be right. At last we have some clear blue water and I hope that when the confidence does return the River Mersey’s murky brown surface will reflect all the fun of its own boat show.