Editorial: Call me a celebrity square

Our interview with the CBI's Lambert; on voting; and the tawdry business of celebrity.

by Matthew Gwyther, MT editor
Last Updated: 09 Oct 2013

It is remiss of us that we haven't interviewed the head of the CBI since May 2002. As the official voice for UK business, being director-general is a vital job, even more so in our current dicky economic state. Richard Lambert, who spent 35 years at the FT, couldn't be more different from the previous incumbent, the Big Brummie Digby Jones. Lambert is highly unlikely to choose The Wind Beneath My Wing, performed by Bette Midler, when he gets onto Desert Island Discs.

Despite our interviewer's encouraging prods, Lambert is far too proper an operator to suggest who UK business should vote for on the sixth. (He's got to get the ear of the winner on 7 May, after all.) And neither would I insult your intelligence by seeking to advocate in this editorial where you should put your ballot paper cross. I don't even tell my wife how I vote. We trust you to do the right thing.

By the way, the fact that Lambert and the newish chairwoman of the CBI, Helen Alexander, are both media types is a real fillip for our profession. Their success should put to rest the prejudice that our industry is filled with nothing but superficial, frothy fly-by-nights. Sadly, the dominance of the vacuous world of celebrity in publishing - in books, in magazines and online - belies this. There is no getting away from the fact that celebrity sells. It's far easier to sign up Kerry Katona to flog your wares than dream up an innovative ad campaign like the meerkat or the drumming gorilla.

Call me old-fashioned and lacking in understanding of the post-modern nature of 'celebrity', but I cannot fathom why we waste a nanosecond of our time with the likes of Jordan, aka Katie Price. An individual devoid of any intrinsic talent, all she has done is make a grotesque investment in two bucketfuls of silicone in her ruthless pursuit of cash. Like Jade Goody, she's a nobody who used the upside-down decade of the Noughties to become a somebody. One only wishes their fame came to an abrupt end as soon as their 15 minutes was up.

Finally, our own in-house celeb Keith Parish retires from MT with this issue after 10 years in the chief sub's saddle. Being an enlightened outfit, we don't believe the world of work ends when you hit 65, so he's going to be popping in to help out as and when he can tear himself away from sculpting pieces of stone in his studio. Although, of course, he may apply to appear on Celebrity Love Island.

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