Hard labour for the Tories' champions


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.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Life and Style
love + sex A new study has revealed the average size - but does that leave men outside the 'normal' range being thought of as 'abnormal'?
Arts and Entertainment
The Palace of Westminster is falling down, according to John Bercow
voices..says Matthew Norman
Steve Bruce and Gus Poyet clash
Graham Norton said Irish broadcaster RTE’s decision to settle was ‘moronic’
Arts and Entertainment
Jake and Dinos Chapman were motivated by revenge to make 'Bring me the Head of Franco Toselli! '
arts + ents Shapero Modern Gallery to show explicit Chapman Brothers film
Arts and Entertainment
Kurt Cobain performing for 'MTV Unplugged' in New York, shortly before his death
music Brett Morgen's 'Cobain: Montage of Heck' debunks many of the myths surrounding the enigmatic singer
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
Life and Style
Brendan Rodgers
football The Liverpool manager will be the first option after Pep Guardiola
Amazon misled consumers about subscription fees, the ASA has ruled
Arts and Entertainment
Myanna Buring, Julian Rhind-Tutt and Russell Tovey in 'Banished'
TV Jimmy McGovern tackles 18th-century crime and punishment
Arts and Entertainment
Paul Whitehouse as Herbert
arts + ents
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

Recruitment Genius: Sales Executive - OTE £40,000

£15000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a great opportunity for...

Austen Lloyd: Law Costs HOD - Southampton

£50000 - £60000 per annum + Excellent Salary: Austen Lloyd: An outstanding new...

SThree: Recruitment Resourcer

£20000 - £21000 per annum + uncapped commission: SThree: As a graduate you are...

Ashdown Group: Junior Application Support Analyst - Fluent German Speaker

£25000 - £30000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: A global leader operating...

Day In a Page

Syrian conflict is the world's first 'climate change war', say scientists, but it won't be the last one

Climate change key in Syrian conflict

And it will trigger more war in future
How I outwitted the Gestapo

How I outwitted the Gestapo

My life as a Jew in wartime Berlin
The nation's favourite animal revealed

The nation's favourite animal revealed

Women like cuddly creatures whilst men like creepy-crawlies
Is this the way to get young people to vote?

Getting young people to vote

From #VOTESELFISH to Bite the Ballot
Poldark star Heida Reed: 'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'

Poldark star Heida Reed

'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'
The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

Netanyahu knows he can get away with anything in America, says Robert Fisk
Families clubbing together to build their own affordable accommodation

Do It Yourself approach to securing a new house

Community land trusts marking a new trend for taking the initiative away from developers
Head of WWF UK: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

David Nussbaum: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

The head of WWF UK remains sanguine despite the Government’s failure to live up to its pledges on the environment
Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Set in a mythologised 5th-century Britain, ‘The Buried Giant’ is a strange beast
With money, corruption and drugs, this monk fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’

Money, corruption and drugs

The monk who fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’
America's first slavery museum established at Django Unchained plantation - 150 years after slavery outlawed

150 years after it was outlawed...

... America's first slavery museum is established in Louisiana
Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

The first 'American Idol' winner on how she manages to remain her own woman – Jane Austen fascination and all
Tony Oursler on exploring our uneasy relationship with technology with his new show

You won't believe your eyes

Tony Oursler's new show explores our uneasy relationship with technology. He's one of a growing number of artists with that preoccupation
Ian Herbert: Peter Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

The England coach leaves players to find solutions - which makes you wonder where he adds value, says Ian Herbert
War with Isis: Fears that the looming battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

The battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

Aid agencies prepare for vast exodus following planned Iraqi offensive against the Isis-held city, reports Patrick Cockburn