The EU should concentrate on service rather than spinning

Last week, as a non-executive UK director, I was in Chicago for the 25th anniversary of the arrival of McDonald’s in Britain. The board, franchisees and store managers celebrated the impending opening of the 1,000th restaurant in Britain and planned the doubling at least of the company’s stake in this country, now measured in millions of customers daily and well over pounds 1 billion in investment.

Last week, as a non-executive UK director, I was in Chicago for the

25th anniversary of the arrival of McDonald’s in Britain. The board,

franchisees and store managers celebrated the impending opening of the

1,000th restaurant in Britain and planned the doubling at least of the

company’s stake in this country, now measured in millions of customers

daily and well over pounds 1 billion in investment.



It all started when Britain was the sick man of Europe. It survived a

crisis over its basic raw material - beef. It has been built up in the

teeth - or not, as the case may be - of hypocritical social snobs, not

to mention those wallowing in anti-American prejudice, But it is now a

British-led jewel in the McDonald Corporation’s golden arches which, at

the last count, were to be found in 117 countries. It has a lot to shout

about - and not least its social contribution by giving around 40,000

youngsters a year their first work experience in a disciplined

environment.



Most of you will be blissfully unaware of this milestone. Speaking as a

PRO, I can’t say that I’m bothered. I believe McDonald’s is dead right

to let performance speak for itself - or, more accurately, as things

turned out in Chicago, to make sure that by attention to the details of

quality, service, cleanliness, value and staff, it continues its steady

expansion.



It will only do that if it keeps its customers smiling.



This is, of course, an old-fashioned view in an ever-spinning world.



Indeed, I am inclined to offer a new first law of public relations: the

greater the spin, the less the achievement; the greater the achievement,

the less the resort to rotational medicine (of which Rhodri Morgan MP

once accused me of being a practitioner before I put him right). I am

emboldened to do so because I found on my return that, even before its

confirmation in office, the new European Commission is threatening to

recruit at least 100 spin doctors in a Blair-style, centralised effort

to improve its image.



This proves conclusively that the Bourbons, who learned nothing and

forgot nothing, are alive and well and living in Brussels. All the spin

doctors in God’s creation can do nothing for the EU when the putative

new commission contains a number from the last era who were forced out

for failing to tackle fraud and incompetence; when it clearly lacks the

will to conquer sleaze; when so many questions hang over the behaviour

of commissioners elect; when the EU is useless in an international

crisis - witness the Gulf, the Balkans and East Timor - and when it

seeks to interfere in the minutiae of the lives of 400 million people

and subjugate them to the dictats of a superstate.



The EU should take a tip from McDonald’s: it’s the product, not the

spin, that counts.



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