|Paul Hooper-Keeley & Lord Digby Jones at the BBBC 17th October|
One of the most passionate public speakers supporting British business, and the up-skilling of our school children and our workforce, Digby always has a special place in his heart for the West Midlands and, in particular, Birmingham - which he describes as “the greatest City in the world”.
And passion was to the fore at this BBBC event where Lord Jones (quite rightly) laid in to Ed Miliband’s pledge that a Labour government would freeze energy prices for at least 2 years. As Digby said, this is clearly an attempt at populist vote winning – Tesco have a higher net profit percentage than the energy firms but Ed Miliband is not suggesting a freeze on food prices (obviously not a vote winner). He also made the point that a potential Labour government that makes soundings about interfering with business will clearly scare off foreign investment in to the UK to the possible benefit of France, Germany, Spain etc.
Digby said aspiration is a good thing and it is wrong for Ed Miliband to demonise big business as a bad thing to the general public. He reinforced the point that we would be nowhere without business – business provides the jobs that provides the taxes for the government and the public sector to exist (to create more jobs and taxes (and benefit payments!!!)). He said politicians always focus on the spending of money (i.e. spending cuts, spending restraints etc.) when they should really be looking at the earning of the money.
For those of you, like me, who have seen Digby speak on several occasions and have read his excellent book, ‘Fixing Britain’, I can tell you that the long un-scripted speech that he made at the BBBC is an ‘all new’ set of anecdotes, opinions and insights that he has experienced over the last few months (his poor recent customer experiences with BT and the Passport Office were in the funny but sadly true category).
Lord Jones is currently working on a new series of programmes with the BBC on the British Manufacturing Industry in which he will be helping companies in the Sir John Harvey Jones ‘Trouble-shooter’ style (with the caveat that each show starts with a positive narrative of British Industry before the main body of the programme). He told us that the series is due to be aired in March 2014.
And, as is often the case with Digby, all proceeds from the morning’s events were donated to charity (with the Ladies Breast Cancer Charity being the main worthy recipient).