The Business On... Lord Flight, chairman, Arden Partners
Wednesday 15 June 2011
He looks very familiar.
Well, Lord Flight was yesterday made chairman of Arden Partners, the stockbroking company, but you may remember him from his days inpolitics, back when he was humble Howard Flight MP.
He first got into Parliament in 1997 and subsequently worked in a number of frontbench posts as a member of the Conservative opposition, including Shadow Chief Secretary to the Treasury. But his steady rise came to a rather unfortunate end in 2005 when he was secretly recorded, in the run-up to the general election, saying that a Conservative government might make much bigger spending cuts than his leader Michael Howard was publicly insisting. Mr Howard was furious and withdrew the party whip from his MP.
Did he go quietly?
Not as such. He was effectively barred from standing for his seat, at least on the Conservative ticket, and took legal advice before eventually giving way.
So that was his political career finished then?
Not quite – he got onto the 'A-list' of Conservative candidates looking for a seat to fight last year's election, but didn't get selected. Last November, he was made a Conservative peer. A week later, he hit the headlines once again after saying that while child-benefit cuts would "discourage the middle classes from breeding", "for those on benefits there is every incentive". It didn't go down well.
So he's shuffled off to the City?
Well, let's be fair. He has a much better record at this game than politics. He had a successful stint at NM Rothschild in the early Eighties before setting up on his own. Together with Tim Guinness, he launched Guinness Flight, which really took off.
Back where he belongs then?
It looks that way. The City will certainly be a little more tolerant of any outbursts Lord Flight makes and while Arden isn't on the scale of some of the places where he has previously worked, it's a relatively young company that is growing fast.
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