Monthly Archives: December 2006

Yesterday, Brendan Barber, the TUC leader, criticised the high pay levels of senior executives and questioned whether their remuneration was justified by their performance. The response from the CBI was predictable:

Complaining about executive pay might give the TUC brownie points with union members, but it ignores the reality of a global economy where there is a fierce battle for senior-level talent. Having the right executive team can make the difference between a company’s success or failure, with repercussions for the whole of society, not just those at the top.

Now anyone who has worked in a British company will know that this is complete bullshit.  Most senior executives make it to the top of their organisations by a mixture of steady competence, political game-playing, back-stabbing, kowtowing, a lot of good luck and, perhaps, the occasional flash of brilliance.  A few are not even steadily competent but they make up for it by being better at all the other stuff. Large companies are bureaucracies. The qualities that lead to advancement in private sector organisations are, for the most part, no different from those required to achieve promotion in the public sector or in the old Soviet Union. 

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There was an interesting item on the Today programme this morning, which was guest edited by Sir Clive Woodward, about boxing and the Olympics (scroll down for the listen again feature to 8.50 am). It has been suggested that investing in boxing, including encouraging boxing in schools, would be a good way to increase possible medal successes at the 2012 Olympics. The obvious role models are Audley Harrison and, in particular, Amir Khan, after his startling success at the age of 17 in Athens, and whose charismatic and complex personality has an obvious appeal, particularly in multi-cultural UK.

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Professor Victor Bulmer-Thomas, in his last briefing paper as Director of non-profit foreign policy analysts Chatham House, is suitably damning of our dear foreign policy obsessed PM – with a few nice little digs to boot:

“In Blair’s case, of course, the focus on foreign policy may have been accentuated by the difficulty of playing a leading role in the management of the UK economy, where the Chancellor of the Exchequer has held sway for so long.”

Me running a Europe-focussed blog, however, I’ll ignore (most of) the stuff about The War Against Terror, and head straight to the bits on British relations with the EU which, as Bulmer-Thomas notes, were pretty much the only aspect of foreign policy in which Blair had shown any interest before becoming PM – and that largely because Europe was a good stick with which to beat the disunited Tories back in the mid-90s. Read More

It’s gedankenexperiment time!

Suppose mafioso A pays hitman B to kill politician C. Is B any less a murderer than if he’d committed the crime off his own back? Obviously not: he’s 100% guilty. But does it follow that A is not responsible for the killing? Again, clearly not: it was his actions and his intentions which led to the politician’s death, 100%. But what if A decided to kill C because of informant D, who tipped him off about C’s planned crack-down on organised crime. Then doesn’t D also deserve some blame for C’s death? And if so, does that lessen the guilt of either A or B? Again, and of course, no.

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