The Business On... David Frost, Director-General, British Chambers of Commerce
The business on...
Friday 08 April 2011
Any relation to the celebrity journalist?
No, but yesterday was this David Frost's chance to grill some big names from politics. He hosted George Osborne, Vince Cable, Eric Pickles and Ed Miliband at the British Chambers of Commerce conference.
Was he tough on them?
He was his usual self, fiercely pro-business, and less than impressed with the announcement of an increase to the minimum wage, which, he says, will jeopardise jobs.
Should we heed his warnings?
Well, he's been in this business for 35 years, so he knows a thing or two. Born in Tyneside, the son of a Newcastle engineer, he moved to the capital to study political economy at what was then Thames Polytechnic. His first job, in 1976, was with the London Chamber of Commerce and he's been in the movement ever since.
Aren't chambers of commerce rather sleepy and parochial?
Far from it. Mr Frost got the top job running the BCC in 2003 after some of the country's biggest chambers kicked up a stink about the organisation's failure to lobby effectively, particularly compared with the CBI. There were all sorts of rows while Mr Frost was overhauling the operation.
So is the CBI his big rival?
There may be a bit of that, but Mr Frost insists the two organisations are complementary. The CBI looks after the interests of big business, while the BCC is focused on small and medium enterprises. That makes it quite powerful just now, because it's the SME sector that the Government hopes will drive the recovery.
A good time to be in the job then?
Not that good it seems: Mr Frost is set to stand down from his post later in the year – he says he's completed the turnaround mission he was set eight years ago.
What will he do next?
He'll probably spend a bit more time with his motorbikes – he collectsclassics and is the proud owner of a 750cc Ducati and 1,000cc Moto Guzzi. There's also his beloved Newcastle United to follow.
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