As actors and comedians know, when it comes to satisfying an audience, timing is everything. At delicate moments it is also important to choose the right topic for conversation.
To that extent there is likely to be disappointment among a group of Highland hoteliers who earlier this month invited Theresa May to a working lunch in Inverness to hear about their concerns around the tourism industry.
Bosses at the Glen Mhor Hotel in the city wrote to Mrs May asking her to meet the Hotels Association and other Highland Business Network representatives struggling to recruit overseas staff resulting from Brexit.
It was always a rather over-optimistic expectation that the crisis-engulfed PM would find time to head to the city for tea and salmon sandwiches, but the hoteliers hope the Prime Minister’s departure will not stop them discussing the sector’s pressing fears over Brexit with senior UK Government officials.
The invitation followed an intervention by Lib Dem MP for Caithness, Sutherland and Easter Ross, Jamie Stone, highlighting in the House of Commons the ‘perfect storm’ of stayaway labour, wage inflation and rising costs for EU goods facing hoteliers in the highlands, and urging Mrs May to visit Inverness.
Maybe he’ll get a positive response from one of the candidates for her job, one of whom has been asked to take time out from campaigning to address the concerns of another industry.
During a visit to Scotland Environment Secretary Michael Gove stopped off to don a hard hat and tour the Stirling operations of wood panel manufacturer Norbord whose management alerted him to growing challenges they are facing sourcing their main raw material.
This is no small matter. A recent report carried out by former Energy Minister Brian Wilson concluded that wood availability will decrease dramatically within the next decade because of the continuing use of subsidy to drive wood towards energy. This is endangering the supply of key materials in the construction, house building and furniture making sectors.
Mr Gove is now being pressured to rethink policy to help the industry satisfy demand for its products, in order to secure thousands of jobs and help the UK face up to its housing crisis.
Steve Roebuck, director of environmental, health and safety at Norbord, said he was pleased that Mr Gove took time to visit the site and listen to Norbord’s concerns.
These twin issues are clearly of some importance and remind us that while politicians continue to sort out their own personal goals life goes on for everyone else who depends on them to take crucial decisions. Specifically, they present a test of how much the UK government is prepared to follow through on its rhetoric of supporting all nations and regions.
Now that she is off to spend more time with her Bible studies and walking companions Mrs May is only likely to visit Scotland again as a tourist, so maybe she will have some sympathy with (but no powers to help) the highlands hoteliers.
Mr Gove, on the other hand, fancies his Downing Street chances and is unlikely to be spending much time in the coming weeks poring over Mr Wilson’s report. For the sake of the industry let’s just hope he returns to the issue if he retains the Environment portfolio or, if he does get the top job, that he passes Mr Roebuck’s message to his successor.