KEEP THE FAITH: TONY BLAIR PRAYS FOR GLOBALISATION WITH VALUES

NEVER mind the JP Morgan advisory gig, Tony Blair’s real focus post-politics is his religious faith – despite being warned by former aide Alastair Campbell not to make a feature of his Christian beliefs.

“We don’t do God,” Campbell growled to Blair, after the former Prime Minister’s Christian faith became the headline in one of his first interviews as Labour leader.

Putting all that firmly in the past, Blair was on fine form as he spoke at last night’s Ipsos MORI event at the British Library as patron of The Tony Blair Faith Foundation, greeting the front-row VIPs of the Bishop of London Richard Chartres and European Central Bank president Jean-Claude Trichet – “When I heard Trichet was coming I thought my goodness, just how serious is this Greek debt crisis” – before tackling the theme of globalisation, development and the role of religion. Discuss.

And so Blair and his former pollster nemesis Ben Page, Ipsos MORI’s chief executive, discussed at some length, debating how the world is divided over the benefits of globalisation and how political leaders have ignored the importance of religious faith “for too long”.

“Faith matters,” said Blair. “You cannot understand the modern world without understanding the political, social and economic impact of religion – this is the subject people will be debating for many years to come.”

The real test, added Blair, will be China, as it develops into “the world’s biggest power”. “If we don’t understand how the Chinese view faith and belief, we may be missing something very important,” he warned. “Although I am a believer in globalisation, I want us to have globalisation with values.”

SUSTAINED EFFORT
MOVE over Unilever – Wates Group has taken over as Company of the Year, as revealed at last night’s Business in the Community Awards for Excellence, where the construction firm was finally recognised for its commitment to sustainability dating back to 1974.

“Sustainable business practices have always been a part of our ethos,” said Wates’ chairman and chief executive Paul Drechsler as he received the baton from Unilever’s senior vice president for sustainability Gavin Neath.

Maloney’s Budgens won Small Company of the Year at the awards, while The Co-Operative Group received the Bank of America

Merrill Lynch Climate Change Award and M&S won the Anglo American Responsible Supply Chain Award.

SLIGHT RETURNS
IS THE private equity sector set for a boom year? The asset managers interviewed by private equity trade body LPEQ for its latest survey seem to think so, with half planning to increase their private allocation “at least slightly” over the coming year.

“Slightly” is a relative term when the investors surveyed manage $5.7 trillion of assets between them though. No doubt LPEQ’s members – represented at the launch of the research by Pantheon partner Andrew Lebus – will take every opportunity to remind their hedge fund rivals of those numbers when the findings are released later today. “Hedge funds don’t have to be synonymous with alternatives,” gloated LPEQ’s Andrea Lowe.

TWO-FOR-ONE TUNES
CITY A.M. is pleased to announce it has extended its partnership as the official newspaper of the Investec Derby Festival into 2012, when Derby Day will be the first official engagement in HM The Queen’s Diamond Jubilee celebrations.

To mark the occasion, City A.M. and the Epsom Downs team are offering all readers a two-for-one deal on tickets for the racecourse’s Epsom Live gigs – so book now for The Beach Boys tomorrow night, Scouting for Girls (14 July), The Wanted (21 July) or Blondie (28 July).

Just go to www.epsom downs.co.uk, click on Buy Tickets and choose the event you want to attend. Then select The Stands and input ELCITY241 into the code box, making sure you enter the same number of tickets in both boxes to claim the offer.