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MANDY UNLEASHES HIS SHARP WIT AT BUSINESS FOR EUROPE DEBATE

IT’S good to know that it’s not only opposition politicians who are subjected to the sting of Lord Mandelson’s acerbic tongue, but members of his own party as well.

Mandy was yesterday morning in attendance at City superspinner Roland Rudd’s Business for New Europe event at the grand Victoria Embankment headquarters of investment bank JP Morgan – the resplendent former home of the City of London School for boys, with its ornate carved ceilings, marble floors and stone tablets featuring the names of ex-head boys.

Reaching the Q&A part of the event after his speech, one incisive member of the audience asked Mandy – notorious for having oft embarrassed the government with his outspoken pro-euro views – whether being in the single currency was holding Britain back.

The business secretary swiftly handed over to foreign secretary David Miliband, citing ignorance on the Foreign Office’s official line on the single currency.

“I hope you’re not suggesting that the Foreign Office has different views on the euro to the rest of the government,” Miliband remarked wryly.

To which Mandy simply sat back in his chair, a Cheshire grin spreading slowly over his features, and breathed: “It hadn’t entered my mind for a minute.”
There’s the mark of a seasoned pro for you.

TWITTER MANIA
Eliot Spitzer – who famously resigned from his role as New York governor nearly two years ago after it emerged he had been visiting prostitutes – is back on his high horse as a self-styled corporate governance crusader.

Writing in his column on website Slate, Spitzer reckons new technology mediums like Twitter could transform corporate democracy and persuade investors to use their clout to whip naughty bank executives into shape.

“Perhaps technology can revive democracy on Wall Street,” he writes, eagerly. “Could shareholders, gathered by an emergency Twitter message, soon converge on a shareholder meeting to demand a claw-back for ill-gotten bonuses?”

Given we’ve already seen Twitter used for alerting the world to a miscarriage and for updating friends in the middle of a wedding, The Capitalist can’t see the small matter of calling shareholders to arms causing much of a problem.

LOVELY BUBBLY
City broker Cenkos is obviously determined not to let that blinking recession spoil a good party. The Capitalist’s sources say the firm will shortly hold its Christmas party to brighten up a gloomy January, as it celebrates the past year being, well, nowhere near as bad as expected.

“Lawyers and PRs have really suffered but thanks to secondary fundraising and trading, our revenues have held up well,” says my man at the firm. “The champagne should definitely be flowing…”

A good job too, since the party is being held at Green’s, the Cornhill venue set up by restaurateur Simon Parker Bowles last year in the old Lloyds banking hall – which, incidentally, Cenkos founder and deputy chairman Andy Stewart supports as an unofficial partner.

Bottoms up.

CITY APPEAL
Big-hearted Jefferies today joins the ranks of those generous firms donating money to relief efforts in the Caribbean island of Haiti, after Tuesday’s devastating earthquake.

The bank is giving away $1m plus all net commissions from today’s trading to charities involved in the clean-up, while it is also urging staff to volunteer their salaries for the day to help.

“All of us at Jefferies have been deeply affected by the tragic losses caused by this devastating earthquake in Haiti,” said chief executive Richard Handler, vowing that the firm would do all it could together with trading clients to contribute to those in need.

FIRE AND ICE
The nightmare continues for passengers on the Thameslink, these days run by the deeply unpopular First Capital Connect.

Ever since the snow fell, the service has been disastrous, with trains freezing up, points iced shut and signals failing left right and centre.

A power cut earlier in the week and an ongoing driver shortage have added to commuters’ agonies, with some electing to stay in hotels in town rather than spend hours getting in and out of the City.

And the misery continued apace yesterday morning when a fire (of all things) brought the entire line to a standstill.

The ensuing chaos was summed up by what is surely one of the all-time classic railways announcements: “In all likelihood, this train will be calling at Kentish Town and Kings Cross”.

Cue laughter from the few passengers who still can still muster a sense of humour.