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Economic snapshot from Yorkshire; and the build up to Football Focus play-off v Alan Sugar

Posted on 20 May 2011 | 10:05am

To Leeds last night for a very enjoyable dinner with some of Yorkshire’s top business people, and publication by BDO of a report into the prospects for the county’s economy (strapline STRONGER, LEANER, FITTER).

The diners had voting pads and could express instant views about their hopes for the future. It won’t surprise you to know there was a mixed picture, a fair amount of optimism about their own companies among the gloom about the economy in general.

A few other snapshots I detected – very mixed views on getting rid of the RDAs, not much  understanding of the new Local Economic Partnerships; a fair amount of concern about where and how the private sector was going to fill the employment gap left by public sector sackings; not much respect for the Lib Dems who people seem to think are becoming something of a laughing stock (and not just Clegg but Huhne and Cable too); and more respect for Osborne as Chancellor than there is for Cameron as PM, at least so far as any economic or political direction is concerned.

One of the highlights for me, however, (how sad is this???) was meeting the man, now a Leeds-based businessman, whose Dad installed the first floodlights at Turf Moor, and also put in the system for the first heated stand (sic) at Burnley back in the 70s. Oh we had a right old natter.

There were two Burnley fans there, the same number I met at a service station stop on the way up. Which brings me neatly to the continuing BBC hype of the great sporting event of the weekend, my Football Focus predictions play off with fellow table topper Alan Sugar.

The programme’s presenter Dan Walker has now put up three different films from my head to head with Sugar, which are at the bottom of this posting.

Meanwhile here are the predictions we made. I am quietly confident that having seen off David Cameron, Lee Dixon, Mark Lawrenson, Liam Gallagher and many others, I can beat Lord Sugar too.

(My scores first)

Villa-Liverpool 1-2   1-2

Bolton-Man City 0-1   1-0

Everton-Chelsea 1-1   2-2

Fulham-Arsenal 1-1 2-1

Man U-Blackpool 3-1   1-2

Newcastle-West Brom 2-1   2-1

Stoke-Wigan 2-2   2-3

Spurs-B’ham 2-0   2-1

West Ham-S’land 1-2   2-1

Wolves-Blackburn 1-1   2-1

Three points for exact prediction, one for getting win, lose, draw right. Beeb promotion films here here and here

Finally, and still on football, good to see Liverpool fan Michael Elliott, who is the distinguished editor of Time International, recognising that Alex Ferguson is the best ever, not just at football, but any sport. Here is his piece

  •  Yorkshire Forward, the RDA, has a very good reputation.

    Even the Yorkshire Post, an enthusiastically and sometimes rabidly Tory supporting paper, has figured this out. A poll of business folk supported the RDA – this was last year. I put it in this blogpost at the time:

    so that explains the audience reaction.

  • Peter Hardy

    You are obsessed … how can anyone get excited about meeting the relative of a floodlights installer? I just don’t get football … love your political blogs though, so I forgive you the occasional excursion to sport

  • Holly Reardon

    Cable was a one trick pony and the trick isn’t working. Huhne has exaggerated views of his own standing and ability. Clegg has lost it. He spoke about ‘trust’ the other day and you could feel his audience squirming. But all thatbeing said it is importsnt to stay focused on Tories as the real vilains. 

  • Todd Hamilton

    You and S’ralan should do a show. Good body language and mood!! Good luck in the play off. I think you’re right about Fulham but he might be right about Blackpool

  • Olli Issakainen

    Respect for Mr Osborne?
    The man who compared Britain with Greece. The man who claimed that Britain was “bankrupt” when the debt was only 53.5% of GDP. The man who speaks about nation´s “credit card”.
    Britain cannot go broke as much of its debt is owned by Britons.
    Mr Osborne promised 2.5m new jobs by private sector during this parliament! He said that unemployment would go down every year.
    How IMF, OECD, Mervyn King etc. can back Mr Osborne´s ideological plans is beyond me. His former businessmen friends are now complaing about lack of growth which Osborne has caused with his loose talk.
    Mr Osborne´s plan is based on private sector investing and creating a lot of new jobs. This is not happening. His plan will not work!
    He has no plan for GROWTH because he believes that it is the job of government only to guarantee low interest rates and low inflation. But modern industrial policy is now needed.
    Growth is the best way to reduce the deficit, not drastic cuts.
    Even the Tory right understand this, and is now reviving its pet project of tax cuts.
    As for Mr Cameron, unfortunately he does not understand what he is doing. Last year he said that UK debt interest bill will rise to £70bn without his austerity package of £110bn. I wrote at the time on this site that the bill would be £70bn anyway as the debt interest is largely related to the TOTAL SIZE of national debt.
    Now we know that the bill will be £67.2bn by 2014/15. I would be laughing if this was not such a serious matter.
    Both Messrs Cameron and Osborne also misrepresented the economic reality when they said that British economy was in worse condition than expected. Deficit was lower and interest rate on average 10-year gilt had fallen considerably.
    Why the media and many people in Britain continue to believe these men on the economy is a mystery to me…
    Mr Cameron paints a rosy picture of the future at PMQs. But as Gordon Brown has warned, world is on course for next economic crisis. GREECE will trigger it. Basel III is inadequate.
    Californian preacher Harold Camping is predicting that the world will end on the 21 May. This was also believed in 1843 and 1844, culminating 22 October 1844. Jehovah´s Witnesses had the end of world pegged for 1914. And next year we will have 21.12.2012…
    It will not be the end of world as we know it if Britain continues on the path chosen by Messrs Cameron and Osborne. But the sooner the UK changes course, the better.

    Ps. As for the heating system in the Bob Lord Stand, it was too expensive to use. As for your predictions, at the end of the season teams who really need the points usually get them.

  • Quinney

    Ally, the people believe Cameron and Osborne over the economy because we’ve never defended our record in office or defended the way GB stept in and stopped the recession caused by the likes of Fred Goodwin turning in to a depresion.

    The tories spent the first four months of government supported by their friends in the media constanty using the mantra of “Labour’s debt” .
    We decided to have a beauty contest to select a leader. I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again; we have never replaced you as communications director. Until we start to aggressively hammer these incompetent, arrogant, nasty tories, defend our record and set out the alternative argument then we won’t be in a position to govern for a long while.

  • Would you say its a case of puppet master to pundi?

  • Dave Simons

    Vince Cable’s article in the Guardian ( is a restatement
    of a speech he gave to a packed Buxton Opera House last summer, except
    that in the Guardian he hasn’t explicitly praised Alastair Darling and
    Gordon Brown for their handling of the banking crisis in 2008. What he
    also hasn’t said is that the economic model followed by New Labour was
    more or less that of his current Coalition allies from 1979 on – a model
    the Conservatives are passionately trying to continue with –  and he doesn’t make
    any direct attempt to debunk the silly, shallow Coalition mantra about
    inheriting the mess left by Labour. When he then goes on to talk about
    tribalism I’m afraid he loses all credibility, because he is making
    himself part of that tribalism by his omissions. If he wants to regain
    credibility he ought to stop being a smarmy-faced, opportunist
    politician and tell it like it is. His recent appearance on ‘Any Questions’ was a disgrace.

  • Robert

    Interesting that this morning Vince Cable is telling the Guardian how difficult it is to get the voters to believe that the economy is in a really bad shape – mentioning the Labour legacy only once and criticising it relatively gently.

    By analogy, perhaps he realises that folk are willing to accept that East Anglia is relatively flat (= Labour view of Britain’s economic difficulty) but not that the whole earth is flat (=it’s ALL LABOUR’S FAULT) as espoused by his bedfellows and master, Messrs Cameron, Osborne and Clegg.

    Taking the voters for fools is not intelligent. Vince Cable is intelligent. So he is squirming.

  • Ehtch

    The incredible manager of old Herbert Chapman (died too young) was a big promoter of floodlights for evening football, and many other ideas, like numbered shirts, way back in the 1920’s and 30’s. He was the old Leeds City last, and successful, manager when they went defunct due to certian financial irregularities you could say, whether true or not who knows.

    He then led Huddersfield Town to two of their three successive league titles, yes Huddersfield. Then famously as Arsenal’s manager to two league titles. Arsenal then went on to win two more, with three on the trot, after his death from pneumonia. Two FA cups too, one at each team.

    So if Fergie is in first place, got to be Herbert Chapman in second. Pity he died at 55.