Tom Richmond: Why the business of politics needs spirit of enterprise

IT is now being claimed that business leaders make lousy politicians because of their inability to compromise.

Will Donald Trump make it harder for entrepreneurs to succeed in politics?

Apparently, this was the latest ruse being used in America to prevent the self-made billionaire Donald Trump from securing the Republican nomination for the White House before the Pope intervened.

Don’t get me wrong. I have little time for some of Mr Trump’s more bombastic posturing – he comes across as an ego-maniac – and his policies on immigration belong to the Dark Ages.

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But this one example should not be used to discourage today’s generation of entrepreneurs and wealth-creators, the people who actually generate jobs and keep the economy ticking over, from becoming more involved in public life.

Take this county where many senior and respected business leaders appear reluctant to put their hand up and say they would like to be the Mayor of Greater Yorkshire, responsible for the region’s economic empowerment, if they were to win a mandate from voters.

There can only be one reason for this – and that is a belief that the public sector’s pedestrian and pedantic decision-making is actually putting off dynamic individuals who realise better than most that time stands still for no one.

A classic example is Lord Sugar, the tycoon who hires and fires would-be entrepreneurs on television’s The Apprentice. On being made Gordon Brown’s “enterprise envoy” as part of the then PM’s “government of all the talents”, he quickly distanced himself from the role when he realised that he could not work with officialdom.

Given his experience, and how newly-created roles like elected mayors and crime commissioners have simply become well-remunerated jobs for the country’s political elite, I’m afraid it is the Government bureaucrats who must embrace change so more industrialists and business leaders are prepared to give service to their country.

In this regard, Donald Trump is performing a very useful service and highlighting why the political elite needs to become more inclusive of those who know how to generate economic success – the reason speak-it-like-it-is mavericks are proving so popular is only because the political establishment is so unpopular in America, Britain and across Europe.

ON the totemic issue of Europe, I don’t for a moment believe the Kensington Palace spokesman who says Prince William’s comments to Foreign Office staff on Tuesday, 48 hours before the crucial EU summit, were non-political.

The Prince said the nation’s ability to “unite in common action” with other countries was essential in the current “turbulent world,” and was the “bedrock of our security and prosperity”.

If it was Kensington Palace’s intention to keep William out of the fray, officials wouldn’t have sanctioned this “meet and greet” at such a politically sensitive time.

A WORD of advice to the “In” brigade. Stop your campaign being hijacked by Labour’s former business spokesman Chuka Umunna as he looks to return to frontline politics. His leadership campaign was so bad that he had to quit after three days.

The same applies to former Labour leader Neil Kinnock who said leaving Europe would be a “leap into the dark” – this from a politician whose family have made their fortune on the back of the EU gravy train.

However, undecided voters are far more likely to respect individuals like Home Secretary Theresa May who has spent six years grappling with immigration policy.

If she believes Britain is better off in the EU on security grounds, she must have good reason to say so.

And there’s another point. Mrs May’s stance is unlikely to endear her to the Tory party ahead of the race to succeed David Cameron as Prime Minister.

That’s why her role is much more important, and substantial, than Mr Umunna and Lord Kinnock’s self-indulgence.

DON’T be fooled by the decision of France’s EDF Energy to extend generation at four of its UK nuclear power stations by up to seven years after previously announcing plans to decommission the plants in question.

It has only served to buy the UK Government time to come up with 
a coherent energy policy for the long-term. They now need to use this period wisely and start planning for the future now – wind turbines which don’t turn in the cold weather are not the answer.

IT says it all. There was a revealing discussion the other day on the radio on how to reconfigure Harry Beck’s iconic map of the London Underground because so many new stations and lines have opened since it was first designed in 1931.

There’s little chance of this ever being the case in Yorkshire where just one new station, at Apperley Bridge, has opened in the past decade.

OF the 12 English “grot spots” top be spruced up before the Queen’s 90th birthday shindig, five are in the South East and only two sites are in the North (Newcastle and the Derbyshire town 
of Dronfield). Does this mean that Yorkshire is the cleanest county in the country – or more evidence of the North-South divide?

I suspect the latter. Do you?

I SEE I’m not the only one put off by the mumbling of actress Sarah Lancashire in the BBC’s Bafta-winning crime drama Happy Valley set in Halifax. Unsurprisingly, the programme lost 300,000 viewers between the first and second episodes.

Hopefully the public’s disquiet has been heard loud and clear.

IT was great playing “Boycott bingo” on the drive to work the other morning as the one and only cricket pundit Geoffrey Boycott trotted out his favourite phrases like “corridor of uncertainty” and “stick of rhubarb”. But he had me stumped when he made reference to comments he had made about the England team on a “podsite”.
I think he meant a podcast that he had produced for the Test Match Special website. At least he raised a smile with those of his listeners, myself included, who are more technologically challenged than others. Keep up the good work, TMS.