The Apollo Project
Liberal Ideas for the 21st Century
Wednesday, January 04, 2006
Leader under attack from supporters
No, not that one!

Those who knew that Cameron had spent several years working for Michael Green at Carlton, the television company, could be forgiven for being surprised. Someone who had been in business wouldn't be so crass, would they? Wrong.

Cameron wasn't a businessman as such. He was a boardroom lackey, a combination of Green's bag carrier and a company spokesman, at a time when Carlton was making a monkey of itself by trying to take on Rupert Murdoch's Sky with Ondigital.

In those days, Cameron's idea of a good time was when no journalist rang him. If one did get through and suggested that Ondigital had a problem, Cameron would respond as if he was talking to the village idiot.

By his own admission, Cameron used to "stonewall" reporters and "be terse". No wonder poor old Green got such a pasting from the press.

Outside Carlton's fantasy zone, it was pretty clear from the outset that its digital service was going to be a monumental loser. Indeed, I remember being at a dinner when Sir Stanley (now Lord) Kalms, then chairman of Dixons, told Green that the trouble with Ondigital was, "having installed it at home, every time my doorbell rings, the toilet flushes".

In the hope that Ondigital could be saved by rebranding (does that sound familiar?), the business became ITV Digital. No chance. When it finally went bust in 2002, more than 1,000 people lost their jobs and 800,000 subscribers were left staring at blank screens.

Between them, Carlton and its Ondigital partner, Granada, burned about £1.2billion of shareholders' money. It was one of the most egregious destructions of British company value in recent times.

Green paid the price: he was booted out, after Carlton merged with Granada in 2003. By then, however, Cameron had long slipped away from the scene of the crash.

Today, Cameron's trade is politics. But never forget his corporate training. At Carlton, he only said what he meant when it was expedient to do so.

posted by Peter Pigeon @ 4:58 pm  
  • At 06 January, 2006 11:54, Anonymous Dave said…

    I don't see why this should mean we shouldn't be smug about the massive poll boost and the fact he put on 16,000 new members in a month which is a pretty bug chunk of your own total membership?

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"What is Liberalism?: I should say it means the acknowledgment in practical life of the truth that men are best governed who govern themselves; that the general sense of mankind, if left alone, will make for righteousness; that artificial privileges and restraints upon freedom, so far as they are not required in the interests of the community, are hurtful; and that the laws, while, of course, they cannot equalise conditions, can at least avoid aggravating inequalities, and ought to have for their object the securing to every man the best chance he can have of a good and useful life." C-B.


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