The City Diary: Bannatyne: A man for all parties

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The Independent Online

Is there no end to the Westminster grovelling of Duncan Bannatyne, irritating star of the irritating business talent show Dragons' Den? When Labour was in power, he would often schmooze the Government – saying George Osborne was "as useful as an ashtray on a motorbike".

That cliché was followed by: "I'd hate to see David Cameron running this country. I'm a fan of Gordon Brown. Did you see the Chancellors' debate with Osborne, Alistair Darling and Vince Cable? Anyone watching must now know how weak George Osborne is." What a difference an election makes. Now Bannatyne opines: "I support George Osborne's Budget. A sustainable recovery, across all sectors and all regions will only be driven by private sector investment, enterprise and innovation."

Make up your mind, Swinney



On the budget theme, I see that Holyrood politicians are attacking Osborne for tapping their constituents to replenish Britannia's purse. "It is abundantly clear that Scottish resources are bankrolling the UK Treasury," moans John Swinney, Scotland's Finance Secretary. Ignoring the obvious point about the UK bailout of Scottish banks, is Swinney really the man to proffer this argument? As Edinburgh's financial sector imploded, the politician pled: "There must now be measures by the UK Government to reflate the wider economy."

Blankfein's world mission continues

Lloyd Blankfein, boss of Goldman Sachs, just can't resist indulging his penchant for irony. The man who first said the hated investment bank was "doing God's work" testified in the insider trading trial of Raj Rajaratnam last week, where he was asked about Goldman's role in the financial markets. The great comedian described the firm as a "middleman", before delivering his punch-line: "It's a service we do for the world."

Well of positives runs dry for Dud

Here's BP chief, Bob Dudley, in confident mood in January puffing the alliance with Rosneft: "We are very pleased to be joining Russia's leading oil company." And, again two weeks later, still feeling chipper despite BP's other Russian partners, TNK-BP's injunction: "Good news from the High Court." Dud ran out of positives when an arbitration panel blocked the scheme last week. Still, he might have one thing right: he once described the agreement as "unique".



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