Comment: Sir Graeme will be better off in the real world

`He is generally reckoned to have made a decent fist of the MMC and it certainly made a pleasant change to have the place run for once by an industrialist rather than a clever lawyer'
Nobody enters public service expecting to make their fortunes and they certainly don't retire while still in harness if they intend to live out their twilight years in a modicum of comfort.

Who then can blame Sir Graeme Odgers for slipping off his yoke early at the Monopolies and Mergers Commission before he gets too old to pick up a non-executive chairmanship back in the real world of competition? After all he has been at it for more than four years and there is only so much one man can take of Stagecoach, which has been around the circuit with Sir Graeme more times than a number nine bus.

Although it was only announced yesterday, Sir Graeme's resignation letter had been in the in-tray for several months. He told Ian Lang of his intention in April but Mr Lang was too busy losing an election to get around to fixing up a replacement. Sir Graeme is generally reckoned to have made a decent fist of the MMC and it certainly made a pleasant change to have the place run for once by an industrialist rather than a clever lawyer. He only blotted his copy book on four occasions - twice with National Champions Hezza, once with Lang and once with Margaret Beckett, who was not persuaded that Bass should swallow Carlsberg Tetley under any circumstances. At odd times the MMC's sectoral analysis displayed a shaky grasp on reality. But at least Sir Graeme was not responsible for the beer report, the low- water mark.Had he hung around he would have been elevated to the chairmanship of the super Competition Commission. Now Mrs Beckett will have to look for another New Labour businessman. With a salary of pounds 120,000, candidates may not exactly be falling over themselves to apply. But whoever is selected is in for a busy time judging by Mrs "refer `em all" Beckett's track record so far.

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