Magazine article Management Today

Cutting Room

Magazine article Management Today

Cutting Room

Article excerpt

My debt to three Lib Dem moles; Pizza Express on the rack; campaigning for an earlier Budget; look inside the box first; feelgood factors ... Evan Davis at large.

As we see an old year out, I feel I should update some previous items written in this column. And I think I should start by saying something nice about the Liberal Democrat economics team, having attacked one Lib Dem MP in August.

I'm not going to endorse Lib Dem views. My BBC job wouldn't allow it, even if I wanted to. And anyway, the Lib Dems have a tendency to berate Britain's unbalanced economy and the overvalued exchange rate while offering no very constructive policy for rebalancing things or getting the exchange rate down.

But the Lib Dems (especially Matthew Taylor and Rob Blackie) get my prize as unsung heroes who, without expecting reward or favour, offer a useful daily commentary on economic goings-on. I know I'm not the only journalist to have noticed their help. Much of what they say can barely be described as partisan. It's almost as if they work as a think tank rather than a political party.

I'm sure the chancellor doesn't see it that way, but he probably doesn't benefit from their reminders, pointing out what statistics have just been released and what to look for in them. And he probably doesn't get timely calls from MEP Chris Huhne, alerting us all to the goings-on in Brussels.

Of course, Lib Dems have an ideology and an axe to grind. But the grinding is so gentle, it is easily disregarded and the underlying points adopted as one's own. I feel it is only right to 'fess up to the help they donate to the hard-pressed journalist.

Exactly a year ago on this page, I predicted for 2002 that 'things will start to look bad at Pizza Express'. I had more comments from people on that item than any other I've written. Mostly, people seemed to agree with me.

Since then, Pizza Express shares have fallen by about two-thirds, and the company has b een forced to increase the size of its pizzas. It is manifestly in a crisis. I take no pleasure in having being totally right about it, and unfortunately I made no money from my foresight. What I have done, though, is desert it for the far superior wood-oven flavour of the pizzas at the Strada restaurant chain, which is just taking off around the area I live in. …

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