People & Business: The political leaders who speak with silver tongues

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Edwina Currie has won a "Foot in Mouth" award for her prediction of a landslide Labour victory just days before the election and the Labour leader, Tony Blair, has walked the "Silver Tongue" competition with his "assured handling of Labour's election campaign", according to Aziz Corporation, a Winchester-based presentation consultancy.

The awards were made to mark the best and worst performances by politicians during the campaign. Peter Ruff of Aziz Corporation said Edwina broke all the rules he teaches in handling media interviews. "She fell into the trap of speaking off the record, making comments which no journalist could ignore. She compounded her errors as she subsequently tried to excuse herself."

Paddy Ashdown came second in the silver tongue stakes while, perhaps surprisingly, Michael Portillo came third "for maintaining the Cabinet position on Europe despite all attempts to derail him".

John Prescott was a close runner-up for the foot in mouth prize for his gaffes on the minimum wage. And Eurosceptic-in-chief Sir James Goldsmith got a special Aziz raspberry for ignoring all the rules of election broadcasts developed over the past 30 years. His cardinal sin was "delivering a lecture to viewers from behind his desk". He's obviously been in business too long.

Morgan Stanley is one, BZW would love to be one and Singer & Friedlander is quite happy in the knowledge that it will never be one - a bulge bracket investment bank.

But what is a bulge bracket when it's at home? We all know that BZW and NatWest Markets are throwing money at fancy hirings in order to compete with the global big boys such as Goldman Sachs. But while banks like these aspire to "bulge bracket" status nobody seems to know exactly what the term means.

I turned to a recent copy of Institutional Investor magazine for the answer.

Apparently the original "bulge bracket" club originated on Wall Street and ceased to exist at least 10 years ago. The term covered a half-dozen American houses which ran a near-cartel of underwriting bond issues.

In the 1940s and 1950s banks such as Morgan Stanley, First Boston, Kuhn, Loeb & Co and Dillon, Read ganged together to carve up such issues between them, leaving lesser banks to pick up the less lucrative bits.

Every issue would be recorded by a "tombstone" advert in the financial press recording who did what; the top firms' names "bulged" out from the underwriting plebs beneath them.

This cartel disintegrated in the 1970s, hit by competition from aggressive houses such as Salomon and Merrill Lynch. But the description lives on as a coveted badge of banking machismo.

So now you can stun investment bankers with your knowledge. And there I was thinking it described the size of their wallets.

City University Business School has a new dean, industrial economics guru Professor Leslie Hannah. He succeeds David Kaye, himself a former senior partner with Andersen Consulting.

Professor Hannah has a positively overflowing CV, having taught at Oxford, Cambridge, the Harvard Business School and Hitotsubashi University, Tokyo. He is pro-director of the London School of Economics and will take up his new post in September.

Professor Hannah thinks there is "still everything to play for" in the expanding European market for business education, as opposed to the US, where the market is already mature.

He thinks there are around a dozen main contenders, City among them.

A London businessman is being held in Antwerp by police investigating a pounds 100m fraud which hit Lloyd's syndicates and top brokers in the City of London.

Mike Reeve, chairman of CRM Insurance Services, was detained by Belgian judicial police while attempting to hand over a 300-page dossier designed to distance himself from the affair, his company said last night.

CRM acted as a managing agency for Dai Ichi Kyoto, the Brussels-based insurance company at the centre of an international investigation by the Belgian police, the FBI and the Serious Fraud Office. The company traded on the similarity of its name to Japan's largest bank and took huge amounts of money from City brokers on the strength of its alleged backing from Japanese pension funds.

Mr Reeve went to Belgium to clear his name and instead got thrown into the clink. Last night CRM denounced this conduct as "quite outrageous, reflecting the manner in which this entire inquiry has been coercively misdirected". The Belgian police kept silent.

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