So we were pleased to see that Gordon Brown had recognised his talents and
given him the further honour of bringing him into government and making him a
Given Sir Digby’s enthusiasm for business and his obvious energy for debate
(for the faint hearted it can be quite over whelming) this struck me as quite a
But it didn’t take long for the knives to be drawn. Already stories have
appeared that Sir Digby had discussed options with both the Lib Dems and the
Tories before accepting Brown’s offer. There’s also the tale that he considered
being a Tory candidate for London mayor.
In an odd way those things don’t seem too damaging. The past is a foreign
country, as LP Hartley wrote, and soon out of mind.
Where I think Sir Digby has a problem is his need to speak his mind and
whether he can adapt to viewing himself so much a part of government such that
he feels he can go along with collective responsibility.
The early signs are not good. Just last week he called for ‘more competitive’
corporation tax and indicated he might give the new chancellor Alistair Darling
a hard time on the issue. And this for The Daily Telegraph.
Plus what would Sir Digby do if pensions come up as an issue? In the past
he’s savaged government on its policy.
As valuable as he may be, I can’t help but wonder how long he will remain
part of Gordon Brown’s government while he’s willing to sound off quite so
publicly about the pressure he’ll be piling on his new colleagues.
Perhaps already it’s not a case of ‘if’ Sir Digby will bid Gordon Brown
goodbye, but when.
Gavin Hinks is the editor of Accountancy Age
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