The corridors of power…

As chief economist at the Confederation of British Industry she had to wait for hours on a sweltering hot Friday afternoon for me and my TV crew to turn up to interview her about interest rates.

We were so late she missed leaving early for a long weekend in the country and she never even complained.

The reason I will miss her is that Kate has been appointed as a member of the Monetary Policy Committee of the Bank of England, which means I am unlikely to get many more interviews in the near future.

When I heard of her appointment I remembered a conference at the Bank of England in 1994 to celebrate its 300th anniversary. Main issues were the benefits of independent central banks, lower inflation, less political interference in economics etc.

I was unimpressed then – it was hard to imagine London’s stout burghers marching on Downing Street chanting; ‘What do we want? Independence for the Bank of England! When do we want it? Now!’ Well it didn’t actually happen like that. But the Bank was given its long sought after independence in 1997.

Which is where Kate Barker comes back into the picture. She will replace DeAnne Julius who used to work as an economist with British Airways.

So, Kate as a former economist with Ford and the CBI will, be the only member of the MPC with hands-on experience of British industry.

If that hardly sounds like having worked your way up from the shop floor by the sweat of your brow, you’d be right. But it is the best voice at the table that British industry is going to get.

The voting record shows DeAnne Julius has been the most consistently dovish member of the Committee, voting more often than the rest to keep interest rates down.

Sadly, examining the voting records is as close as I’m likely to finding out what Kate now thinks about interest rates. As I said, I will miss her.

  • Jonty Bloom is is a business news reporter at the BBC.

Related reading