Sir Clive Thompson is an accomplished businessman, one of the best in Britain. But will he become a liability as president of the Confederation of British industry? After his inflammatory performance at the Annual Dinner earlier this year, some insiders at the employers' trade body are worried about a repeat performance. Ahead of the this month's CBI conference David Smith explores the relationship between the acerbic Thompson and Adair Turner, the CBI's smooth-talking director-general (p32).
He asks whether they can hold the organisation together as its members struggle with the prospect of a recession that is already compared with the Crash of 1929. This year's conference in Birmingham will be an important test of Thompson's political skills when he plays host to four government ministers, including chancellor Gordon Brown and Trade and Industry secretary Peter Mandelson. The media will be watching closely to see whether any critical remarks sour relations with the Government.
Thompson has rightly said that the CBI should not be regarded as the business wing of the Labour Party. The confederation, formed in 1977, represents the interests of British business with its 250,000 member companies.