The Sunday Times and Croissants – Tory Ashcroft to give away half his £1.2bn fortune.

The Sunday Times and Croissants 21st April

There is something special about Sunday morning, the Sunday Times, hot croissants with honey and butter, excellent.
Headlines –  “Tory Ashcroft to give away half his fortune” – makes the headlines. The billionaire and Tory Peer Lord Ashcroft is to pledge at least half of his £1.2 billion fortune to charity. Michael is joining a philanthropic movement led by Warren Buffett and Bill Gates. The Giving Pledge is a public commitment by billionaires to give away most of their wealth. The list of donors includes Sir Richard and Lady Branson, Lord Sainsbury and Harriet Harman or Heyman, not quite sure. Must check notes before push send.

No more money is going to the Conservative Party, beneficiaries of £10 million to date. The former Tory Treasurer will not help to fund the next election campaign. Michael and I met, as part of the 1980s brat pack, which included Nigel Rudd, Roger Carr and Richard Branson. All now, knights of the realm. So much for being Thatcher’s favourite business man!

Michael once hosted a dinner at Scotland Yard as part of his Crimestoppers launch. A visit to the Black Museum part of the evening entertainment. The Black Museum is a famed collection of criminal memorabilia dating back to 1874. It includes objects from the Jack the Ripper and Dr Crippen cases. Exhibits include a pair of binoculars from which a pair of spikes shoot out to blind the user, as the lenses are adjusted to improve vision and focus. A parable on the dangers of perception perhaps and …

Obviously a warning to the Chancellor of the Exchequer as the problems in the economy sweep into focus. Jenni Russell, writing in place of Dominic Lawson this week, advises George Osborne to shed another tear and admit that austerity isn’t working. Apparently the Chancellor shed a tear at the funeral this week, overcome by emotion or news of the Fitch downgrade, we can’t be sure. Nevertheless, latest news on unemployment and the IMF caution, suggests it is time for a rethink on policy. Especially with regard to infrastructure and housing investment.

David Smith, suggests “low pay begins to do more harm than good”. Yep inflation at 3%, earnings at 1% result household misery. The Economics Editor suggests employers should sign up to a 3% club, offering pay rises ahead of inflation to stimulate household spending and domestic demand. Well, at least it’s better than Lord Turner’s idea of throwing cash out of a helicopter to stimulate inflation but not much. Best let the market work it out, with a little help from Treasury.

Economics news, inflation, retail sales and jobs this week, along with a downgrade of UK debt rating from Fitch plus a mild warning from the IMF about the direction of austerity policy in the UK. For more details, check out The Saturday Economist, always worth a read, even though I say so myself!

Back to the day Job – Monday -  team meeting in the morning, followed by a presentation to delegates from the Isle of Man. First team turnout with representations from all of the Manchester family players in a full day session. Great comment “It is clear that in Manchester you all know your place on the pitch and play in formation together”. Excellent.

Tuesday, Business Leadership Council meeting in the morning to discuss the Greater Manchester Strategy document. Sir Howard and Mike Emmerich in attendance, a great chance to understand and explain how the pro.manchester sector groups can assist the drivers of growth in the economy. Later Alison Small, from ABN Amro is in the office, for a coffee and catch up.

Wednesday - lunch at Barclays Wealth, a guest of Samantha Beach, a chance to listen to Kevin Gardner and Tom Elliott two great economists from Barclays and J P Morgan. Both ex LSE, and an excellent busman’s lunch. Talking of lunch…

Thursday, 150 for pro.manchester lunch at the Hilton with Charlie Cornish, great presentation from Charlie on life post the Stansted deal and clarify the rumours about a possible bid for Chicago.

Friday, meeting with Dr Kevin Albertson, economist and econometrician from MMU, later coffee with Clive Memmott, CEO of the GM Chamber of Commerce. Good stuff. In the evening a rare Black Tie dinner as a guest of Wayne Mellor and Sarah Molyneux on the Pozzoni table at the Women in Property Dinner. Great evening, I am a little shocked as the female presenters, more than a little risque, are not always and entirely politically correct.

Saturday, working in the morning, the day starts as usual with tea, the FT, and the Economist app. The Economist leads with “Clean, safe and it drives itself”, a special report on the car (not the economy) of the future, if only it were so!

In the afternoon, tennis, a  4 – 6 loss , back to reality some might say.

Hope all is well, more news next week,

John
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