Magazine article New Statesman (1996)

The Journal OF Lynton Charles

Magazine article New Statesman (1996)

The Journal OF Lynton Charles

Article excerpt

FIDUCIARY SECRETARY TO THE TREASURY

Tuesday Having passed most of the day opening a business park near Wigan, I sink back into a first-class seat on the Virgin train and sleep half of the way back to Euston. The encouragement of entrepreneurialism is, of course, a key part of the government's long-term strategy and -- as far as I can judge -- this park looked pretty entrepreneurial: you know, modern and full of computers and stuff like that. But, to be honest, 15 years spent in the British university system as it used to be and seven years as a full-time politician are not the best preparation for judging the dynamic potential of this Internet company or that finance firm.

We arrive in the station just after 7pm, and there's a sense of excited anxiety in the air; like there used to be round Westminster when the IRA had just fired the mortar at No 10 or left a van bomb on the corner of Northumberland Avenue. As I walk up the ramp, I can hear the muffled thuds and shouting. It is a very particular noise, and one I dimly remember from picket-lines in the seventies: the sound of police and demonstrators having a right old barney.

My fellow passengers and I have hardly emerged on to the concourse before we are spotted by a small gaggle of placard-wielding youngsters, some of whom (allowing for facial jewellery) look exactly like I did all those years ago, when the issues were Vietnam and apartheid. Their hair is all over the place (and worse), their clothing -- in these days of DKNY -- is stuff that the third world has sent back to Oxfam.

A young woman with a sweet face, dreadlocks and pantaloons approaches me, with an intention -- I can tell -- of entering into a one-sided dialogue.

"Excuse me, sir," she says. "We're holding an action to highlight the domination of the world by greedy multinationals, and the police are repressing us outside at this very moment. …

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