CITY law firm Clifford Chance last night played host to a gathering of 250 of the City’s most prominent names in a one-off chance to hear from former Prime Minister Tony Blair.
Blair blitzed into the event and had to run off to another engagement immediately afterwards, but in between he found time to cover the small topics of Chinese growth, constituency politics and what it’s like to have 24-hour protection.
Names on the guest list included former deputy PM John Prescott, former Lloyds boss Sir Victor Blank and Rolls Royce director Peter Morgan, as well as a collection of managers and analysts from Bank of America Merrill Lynch, Barclays, Prudential and KPMG.
Our silver-tongued speaker began with some reminiscences. As a young barrister, he claimed, he had waited months for a case from Clifford Chance to come along. “It never arrived,” he said, “and my life has been downhill ever since.”
As the public well knows, Blair’s nothing if not a flatterer.
As for benefiting from police protection 24-7, it sounds like a bit of a breeze – with his police escort, the former PM doesn’t even have to pay a congestion charge as he sails through central London and parks wherever he pleases. Funnily enough, it sounds rather like still being in power.
The heavens have smiled on Northern Petroleum this week – for a moment at least. The oil explorer has just “spudded” or begun drilling at Markwells Wood in the south-east of the UK in the hopes of making a big find. The weather augured well: on the first day of drilling, as one of the firm’s consultants drove home from the well, he glanced back to see the end of a glorious rainbow touch down on the facility (see picture above).
As godly City folk will know, the rainbow is traditionally a symbol of God’s covenant with Noah that he has brought an end to 40 days of devastating floods, but perhaps more importantly, rainbows are also meant to have a massive pot of gold at their end. Northern Petroleum can only watch and wait to see if there is black gold at the end of this rainbow.
Helical Bar chief executive Mike Slade is at it again – finding new ways to raise money for his chosen causes, that is. This time, he has teamed up with Frogmore managing director Paul White (pictured top right) to buy up a Triumph Bonneville motorbike and auction it off to raise money for LandAid, a charity that draws on donations from the property industry to help disadvantaged young people acquire useful skills.
Now The Capitalist doesn’t know much about motorbikes – except that they’re fun to ride – but this looks like a rather special machine. It features seven-spoke alloy wheels, a 865cc parallel twin engine and electronic fuel injection. And it looks just snazzy.
Bidding is open until 28 November, when the highest bidder will get an invite to the annual movers and shakers dinner on 2 December where an additional silent auction will be held to get the donations up to a respectable level. Bids should be sent to Julia.firstname.lastname@example.org.
Left-wing blog Labour Uncut yesterday received a setback in its newly-launched campaign for BBC impartiality. Launched just last week, the “Mandy4Strictly” campaign could already have received a fatal blow. Prompted by the crushing unfairness of having one Conservative and one Liberal Democrat booked for the Strictly Come Dancing’s Christmas special, and no Labour representative, Labour Uncut’s Dan Hodges has written to the BBC to demand that it enforce the impartiality required in its charter.
And Hodges has a candidate in mind to take on ex-Tory MP Ann Widdecombe and business secretary Vince Cable, who has promised an appearance: “There is one man with poise, grace and elegance to lead us to our Canaan, (The Tower Ballroom, Blackpol [sic]),” wrote Hodges longingly last week.
That man, it turns out, is Lord Mandelson, already known for his fondness for doing the tango.
But the dream might have already died. In response to Hodges’ letter, BBC head of comms Kate Toft has some bad news: “Both Ann Widdecombe and Vince Cable are huge fans of the show and of ballroom dancing, as is Peter Mandelson, although he declined an offer to take part in the show,” she wrote.
Clearly, it is time to take the campaign to the lord himself.
FACE THE MUSIC
Never mind the disappointment over Lord Mandelson – it’s time to dust off your dancing shoes anyway. The John East Project, the melodic jazz band led by Merchant Securities deputy chief executive John East, has announced that it will be playing one more date in the City before Christmas. The first will be in Club Ten in the Grange Hotel near St Pauls on 8 December. But luckily, if you can’t catch the band this side of the new year, you’ll have another chance afterwards: East is taking his music to the 606 Club for a second time on 19 January.