Sir Digby Jones, the former director of the Confederation of British Industry (CBI), is to be made a Lord and given a job as a trade minister in Gordon Brown’s government of “all the talents”.
Jones declared after his appointment that “business and wealth creation should be at the heart of government policy”.
One of his aims is to change the way his new department, the DTI’s successor, operates so “the business equation” influences everything the government does.
Jones, who has swapped a seven-figure salary for an mere £83,000 ministerial pay packet, pledged that he will speak up for business within government, as well as “banging the drum” for British exporters.
He also revealed he had refused to join the Labour Party, despite being asked to do so by Brown.
Jones spent six years as head of the CBI, Britain’s “voice of business”, before stepping down last December. Since then he has acted as a “skills envoy” for the government and consulted for firms such as Deloitte and Barclays Capital.
Digby Jones is living proof of the culture of interlocking directorships. He has been a non-executive director and chairman of numerous companies.
He rarely misses an opportunity to lay into workers. “The government must face down the unions. The ‘I’m alright Jack’ attitude of many public sector union officials really is showing itself,” he once demanded.
Jones is also keen that so called “failing” schools go to the wall. “Let’s call it for what it is,” he says. “If it’s rubbish, close it and sack a few people.
“It’s only fair to the good colleges and principals I meet every day. It is hardly fair on them if they do not see the bad ones weeded out.”
On the unions he has said, “The union psyche appears inextricably linked with saying no—of stopping, slowing down, making things more bureaucratic.
“Unions are tending to be a block to reform,” he also said. “They are tending to put ideology and the arguments of yesterday ahead of the interests of most of their members.
“With unions representing just 19 percent of the private sector workforce, they become increasingly irrelevant every day.”
So Jones is an anti-union boss who refuses to join the Labour Party and sits in the house of Lords. He should fit perfectly into Brown’s Labour government.
Around 50 trade unionists and local people protested in Gordon Brown’s constituency in defence of public services on the day he became prime minister.
PCS civil service workers’ union members were joined by postal workers, firefighters and others as they marched through the streets of Kirkcaldy against local job and service cuts.
Steve West is the PCS’s campaigns coordinator in Fife. “Our protest received excellent coverage on BBC Radio Scotland and the BBC’s website,” he told Socialist Worker.
“We told people we are not happy with what the new prime minister is doing in his own backyard.”