Hard labour for the Tories' champions

BUNHILL

NEWS that a dozen leading businessmen have given pounds 100,000 to puff the Government's economic policy in a glossy brochure had Bunhill dusting down his ancient abacus. Surely the companies they run must be among the biggest beneficiaries of the strong, successful modern economy whose virtues they are extolling?

My computations covered the share price performance of these companies over the past two years measured against a rising stock market. And what a mixed bag they are! Top of the form is Sir Stanley Kalms, chairman of Dixons, whose shares have more than doubled. Dieter Bock at Lonrho and Barrie Stephens of Siebe also turned in creditable performances. But what are we to make of poor old Sir Nigel Mobbs, chairman of Slough Estates (down 30 per cent), Lord Sheppard at Grand Met (down 24 per cent) and Nigel Rudd's Williams (down 31 per cent)?

The booby prize, though, goes to none other than Lord Hanson. His Hanson conglomerate may have been the most generous of donors to Conservative Party coffers down the years, but such largess has brought few rewards to shareholders who have seen the value of their investment dwindle in relative terms by 38 per cent in the past couple of years. Hanson, you my recall, is in the process of breaking itself up. At least it is being true to the principle of living - and dying - by the free market it has championed for so long.

TALKING of the stock market, my attention is drawn again to the Veuve Clicquot Businesswoman of the Year Award. Past winners like Sock Shop's Sophie Mirman and Pineapple's Debbie Moore did not exactly go on to greater things. Indeed, the prize may even be a bit of a poisoned chalice - like the Guardian's Young Businessman of the Year. The shortlist for this year includes only two women executives from quoted companies. So if either Rosalyn Wilton, from Reuters, or Mary-Lorraine Hughes, managing director of Portmeirion Potteries, walks off with the bubbly next month, you know which shares to avoid.

Greed is not good

AN amusing tale reaches me from Germany where BBC economics editor Peter Jay went to interview Chancellor Helmut Kohl for tomorrow night's Panorama programme on the future of Europe, ominously entitled "Britain's Waterloo".

Mr Jay, formerly Our Man in Washington, was honoured to be received by the Chancellor in his home town of Oggersheim. Previous recipients of such hospitality have included Boris Yeltsin, Francois Mitterrand and Lady Thatcher.

While waiting for the Chancellor to arrive at the appointed restaurant, hunger got the better of Mr Jay and his production acolytes. A slap-up meal was being wolfed down when the Chancellor's entourage turned up, led by a blonde vision of Teutonic womanhood otherwise known as Mr Kohl's personal assistant.

Without so much as a "Guten Tag, Herr Jay," she bounded over to his table, produced a napkin, and preceded to remove the remnants of the meal which were liberally deposited about his mouth. Other adjustments to his personal appearance and attire were made before Mr Jay was deemed presentable for his audience with the German leader.

THE ineptitude of cable companies at marketing themselves knows no bounds. Travelling the other day on the Docklands Light Railway that sucks worker bees into Bunhill Towers, I was struck by a series of adverts featuring a motley collection of rabbits, puppies and dolls.

Closer inspection revealed them to be part of a promotion for Bell Cablemedia, a cable television company. A nest of Russian dolls was easily explained by the caption: "Our telecoms solutions give your business room to grow". The doe-eyed hound holding a red receiver in its mouth was trickier to work out, though the accompanying slogan, "Your calls follow you around", may have something to do with the introduction of number portability. But the use of three fluffy bunnies chatting on the blower - "Now you can all rabbit at once" - is a huge howler. The last time a rabbit was invoked to flog phones, the eponymous service promptly went belly up.

Bad timing

THE British music industry is not normally associated with violating human rights, unless you believe the Music Industry Human Rights Association (Mihra). The pressure group is campaigning for a better deal for the thousands of young musicians and composers who it says are at the mercy of a "cartel" of international record conglomerates.

To redress the balance, Mihra wants Thorn EMI, one of the "cartel" members, to donate studio time to impoverished performers. Mihra is urging supporters to buy Thorn's shares in order to put its case at the company's AGM this summer. Alas, Mihra's timing is awry. Shareholders will have other things on their minds - like voting on the minor matter of Thorn's planned pounds 8bn demerger.

News
John Travolta is a qualified airline captain and employed the pilot with his company, Alto
people'That was the lowest I’d ever felt'
Life and Style
healthIt isn’t greasy. It doesn’t smell. And moreover, it costs nothing
Sport
Jonas Gutierrez (r) competes with Yaya Toure (l)
football

Newcastle winger is in Argentina having chemotherapy

Arts and Entertainment
Blossoming love: Colin Firth as Stanley and Emma Stone as Sophie, in 'Magic in the Moonlight'
film

Actors star in Woody Allen's 'Magic in the Moonlight'

PROMOTED VIDEO
News
peopleThe Times of India said actress should treat it as a 'compliment'
News
news

Watch this commuter wage a one-man war against the Circle Line
News
We are phenomenally good at recognising faces; the study showed that humans have been selected to be unique and easily recognisable
science

Human faces unique 'because we don't recognise each other by smell'

Arts and Entertainment
You've been framed: Henri Matisse's colourful cut-outs at Tate Modern
artWhat makes a smash-hit art show?
Property
Home body: Badger stays safe indoors
lifeShould we feel guilty about keeping cats inside?
News
A male driver reverses his Vauxhall Astra from a tow truck
news

Man's attempt to avoid being impounded heavily criticised

Arts and Entertainment
US pop diva Jennifer Lopez sang “Happy Birthday” to Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedow, president of Turkmenistan
musicCorporate gigs become key source of musicians' income
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Arts and Entertainment
While many films were released, few managed to match the success of James Bond blockbuster 'Skyfall'
filmsDaniel Craig believed to be donning skis as 007 for first time
Student
The Guildhall School of Music and Drama is to offer a BA degree in Performance and Creative Enterprise
student

Arts and Entertainment
Emma Thompson and Bryn Terfel are bringing Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street to the London Coliseum
theatre

Returning to the stage after 20 years makes actress feel 'nauseous'

Arts and Entertainment
Pulp-fiction lover: Jarvis Cocker
booksJarvis Cocker on Richard Brautigan
Arts and Entertainment
Robin Thicke and Pharell Williams in the video of the song, which has been accused of justifying rape
music...and he had 'almost no part' in writing it
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

Recruitment Consultant - Soho - IT, Pharma, Public Sector

£20000 - £25000 per annum + OTE £35,000 first year: SThree: The SThree group i...

Sales Executive

£20 - 24k (Uncapped Commission - £35k Year 1 OTE): Guru Careers: We are seekin...

Payroll & Accounts Assistant

£20 - 24k + Benefits: Guru Careers: This is a great opportunity for an enthusi...

SQL Developer - Watford/NW London - £280 - £320 p/d - 6 months

£280 - £320 per day: Ashdown Group: The Ashdown Group have been engaged by a l...

Day In a Page

Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam
'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

Exclusive extract from Janis Winehouse's poignant new memoir
Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

The Imitation Game, film review
England and Roy Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption in Basel

England and Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption

Welbeck double puts England on the road to Euro 2016
Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Pictures removed from public view as courts decide ownership
‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

Donatella Versace at New York Fashion Week