“It has elicited – as the most polite reaction – wry smiles and chortles from the business leaders I've asked about it,” wrote BBC business editor Robert Peston on his blog yesterday.
- and that pretty much sums up the business world’s reaction to Gordon Brown’s appointment of Alan Sugar as enterprise tsar last week, Smarta can probably sign off now. Want more? Really? Oh, go on then: –
Our favourite reaction was from Financial Times media correspondent Ben Fenton, who, in a string of adjectives so delicious it was verging on onomatopoeic, tweeted that the appointment was ‘grotesque, wrong-move-too-late, crapulous, irrelevant, trite populism’. We couldn’t have put it better ourselves.
It’s not that, as the Tories claim, the move is conflicting with the BBC’s promise to be politically neutral that strikes us as slightly ridiculous – it’s more that it feels as though the decision is the last, desperate cry for affection from someone about to be launched head first into the abyss of political no-return. It’s just a shame the cry has been so, well, pathetic.
Margareta Pagano, the Independent’s business editor, pointed out Sugar wouldn’t usually be the obvious choice. “Some of his new comrades in the Lords are already asking questions... Sir Alan’s fortune is down by £100m... I believe that any list of the top thousand or so British businessmen or women who could do this job would not include Sir Alan.”
It’s hard to know whether the move was a cynical strategy to shore up voter loyalty or an honest, if misguided, attempt to engage with and improve life for entrepreneurs – but either way, it seems it’s all gone a bit wrong.
There’s still time, though, Gordon! If you’re really struggling, we suggest you make use of this nugget of wisdom from blogger Rhodri Marsden. “I think Gordon Brown could go some way to restoring his shattered popularity by announcing that there's a moose loose aboot this hoose.”