David Cameron's next big idea... hiring the whizz-kid from Next

Click to follow
Indy Politics

Simon Wolfson is the son of Lord Wolfson, former chief of staff to Margaret Thatcher. His appointment as joint head of the Conservative Party's official advisory group on economics will be announced tomorrow.

The appointment, part of a bid to bring in outside talent to advise the Tory party, follows the engagement of Bob Geldof, the Live8 organiser, and Zac Goldsmith, who will head Mr Cameron's environment policy review.

Mr Wolfson, 38, is the second-youngest chief executive of a FTSE 100 company. He has headed Next since 2001 and was a leading figure in the campaign against the euro.

Working with the anti-red tape Tory MP John Redwood, he will jointly chair the advisory group that will seek to reduce regulation and improve educational standards, skills in the workplace and competitiveness. It will also examine Britain's transport infrastructure.

"If we are to deliver good public services then we need a vibrant economy in order to pay for it," said Mr Wolfson yesterday.

"That is why it is essential that we put wealth creation back on the political agenda in Britain and address issues such as building a strong 21st-century infrastructure, liberating business from regulation that often has no benefit or purpose, and making sure that the public sector is efficient."

Mr Redwood said: "We are going to be looking at the inadequacies of our transport system, [and] how we can have frontline universities out there with Harvard. We are going to be looking at whether the business tax position is competitive worldwide.

"We will be asking why Britain has slipped down the rankings as a relatively fast-growing economy to a relatively slow growing European-style economy overburdened by bad government, and we will be looking at public sector efficiency as well."

But Labour seized on the facts that Mr Wolfson had been a major donor to Mr Cameron's leadership campaign and was the son of a Tory peer.

The Register of Members' Interests indicates that Mr Wolfson gave a personal donation, believed to be around £10,000, to David Cameron. The new adviser is the son of Lord (David) Wolfson of Sunningdale, who was chairman of Next between 1990 and 1998, and chief of staff in the Thatcher government from 1979-85.

George Osborne, the shadow Chancellor, will tomorrow set out the party's plan to improve competitiveness through public service reform, reduced demands on the state and lower taxes, including taxes for business.

In welcoming the new appointment, Mr Osborne said: "Simon Wolfson is at the forefront of the new generation of British business leaders who understand the need to compete in the 21st century. I'm delighted that he will join with John Redwood in co-chairing this vitally important group."