If I had to start again ... Lord Lamont

I would like to try something different, so I might be a barrister.

by
Last Updated: 31 Aug 2010

Miscarriages of justice make me angry, and it would be satisfying to stand up for people against the whims of fashion and public opinion. Also, I think the life at the Bar is a nice one. I like the independence: you're self-employed and - unlike politics - answerable only to your client. I might be moderately good at it, too: sometimes I lack imagination, but I have a sort of skilful inflexibility with the facts which might serve me well.

I have met many talented people in industry - both during my time at Rothschild and after it - but very few who have also been successful politicians. In business, it's perfectly alright to suddenly decide to pursue a totally different strategy; in politics, you can't do that. And businesspeople have to make decisions quickly, based on the best available information. In politics, there is an endless quest for perfection, for more information to precisely calibrate every decision. I think many business people can't see the point.

My favourite job as a politician was chancellor of the exchequer. There's nothing a government can do without the assent of the Treasury, including go to war. It's very rewarding, and I say that even though I had a rough time. I didn't want to be PM though - being PM is like being chairman of a company which holds a shareholders' meeting every week, and a pretty angry one at that.

I wouldn't have chosen to come out of the European Exchange Rate Mechanism (on Black Wednesday, 16 September 1992) in the way we did, but I don't really see how the decisions we made could have been different - the facts drove them. However, the ERM did cure Britain's inflation problem, and after it had done that it disintegrated. It made me look a little ridiculous, but what does that matter?

One thing I'd do differently is to speak more plainly and not tell any jokes. When I said Je ne regrette rien, it was a frivolous answer to a frivolous question. It doesn't mean you aren't very serious.

Lord Lamont was chancellor of the exchequer, 1990-93.

Find this article useful?

Get more great articles like this in your inbox every lunchtime

Subscribe

Get your essential reading delivered. Subscribe to Management Today