Sir Digby Marches on

Three cheers for Sir Digby (as was), Lord Jones (of Solihull?) as will be. Last week Gordon Brown's new "government of all the talents" found room - and, let's face it, you need a bit - for the former director general of the CBI.

Last Updated: 31 Aug 2010

Sir Digby will be minister of state for trade and investment in the revamped DTI - now the "Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform". He will also chair the "UK Trade and Investment" panel, putting the case for British business abroad.

He is justifiably proud of his new appointment. Apparently Sir Digby is looking forward to "banging the drum for British business of all sectors and all sizes all over the world". And when Sir Digby bangs a drum, you can probably hear it in Shanghai.

Jones made a startling change when he took over at the CBI - a brusque, plain-speaking, non-metropolitan champion for business. The organisation loved him, and business leaders knew that in him they had a spokesman who would not hesitate to rattle a few cages on their behalf in Whitehall.

Now he is to be brought formally inside Gordon's big tent, partly on account of his undoubted abilities, but no doubt partly also to neutralise a potentially vociferous critic of other aspects of government policy.

It will not be dull. Business can rest assured that it will have a loud and whole-hearted representative at the heart of the government machine with good access to No.10.

Sir Digby rarely failed to remind us, when he was running the CBI, that we live in "a brutally competitive world", "a world where India wants your lunch and China wants your dinner."

As anyone who has ever seen Sir Digby in the flesh could tell you, lunch and dinner are clearly very important to him. This man means business.

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