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Not what I would call an inspired appointment

I guess it is a sign of the times that when the UK ruling Labour Party is in such a mess, the appointment of a character such as Sir Alan Sugar, the businessman and brash TV show main man, gets a collective raspberry, rather than the coos of applause and “well dones” that would have been the case say, five years ago. It is a largely pointless appointment.

Sir Alan, who is also the front-man for the BBC TV talent show, The Apprentice – modelled on the US one fronted by Donald Trump, is a Labour supporter, believing that there is a large, possibly even larger, role for the state in business. For all his image of the self-made man, he is in many ways quite a corporatist in this sense. And in his demeanor, he represents what a lot of leftists think business is: cut-throat and aggressive. Socialists often buy the idea that commerce is not a positive-sum game, so when they go into business, they behave like the worst caricature of the cliched 19th Century mill-owner. The whole vibe of “The Apprentice” is dog-eat-dog, pandering to the worst impressions that many people have about business.

And make no mistake, Sir Alan, even if he is a nice guy in his private life, comes across as a bully. And this is not a snobbish point, by the way, about his London accent or razor-dodging demeanor. I watched a BBC TV programme the other day when he was asked about his trip to see Gordon Brown, and the media outlets were rife with speculation on what he was doing. Sir Alan could hardly be surprised to be asked about it. Instead, he brushed aside this situation by almost telling the news presenter to shut up. “I’m not gonna talk abaaat it.” For one minute I thought the BBC was going to cut the interview short. It should have done so.

In the fag-end of Labour’s days in power, the elevation of this man to the peerage and a pointless job in “enterprise” will be seen as a rather bizarre footnote.

11 comments to Not what I would call an inspired appointment

  • I think that this appointment, together with Glenys’ will also perhaps be remembered as a coda for the House of Lords. Clearly a seat in the HofL can be AS’s only motivation for accepting this dead-end ‘job’ – and why not? This Labour Govt will be gone in 12 months, perhaps a lot sooner, and forgotten shrtly after, while AS has a peerage for life.

  • Ian B

    On the positive side, at last every hard working family in Britain will get an e-m@iler telephone for free, thus banishing e-m@iler poverty from our shores forever.

  • Sugar is a marketing man, and his business is to sell. His Amstrad computer was fitted with an operating system like no other, not compatible, and with a very limited range of programmes that could run on it. But Sugar was selling a cheap computer, not one that was of much use to anyone. And so on etc. His latest effort on last years “Apprentice” was to give the prize to a male fragrance that could sell well. The fact that it has a nasty allergic effect on many people, and could well be a supermicide does not matter. All that matters is the bottom line. So he is certainly a good fit for the present government.

  • Ian B

    His Amstrad computer was fitted with an operating system like no other, not compatible, and with a very limited range of programmes that could run on it.

    If you mean his early micros, well the same arguments apply to all micros of the day; Spectrums and C64s weren’t compatible with anything else either. If you mean his PCW series of word processors, they were a very good product that fitted a niche for a cheap, capable word processor when IBM compatible PCs cost a small fortune, beyond the reach of many small businesses and individuals. They were a great deal of use to many people, and a fine example of the free market supplying the needs and desires of customers.

  • watcher in the dark

    Sugar often says he can see through what he calls “schmoozers” but maybe he can’t. If he could, surely he would have seen the increasingly impotent Broon schmoozing all over the place.

  • The Internet


    Apparently, he’s going to give away digital screens to GPs and recoup the cost through advertising.

  • I second Ian B on the PCWs. They were bloody awful but they were very cheap. The 3″ disks were the weirdness but the O/S was CP/M which was still pretty standard. The printer did though sound like the apocalypse.

    Other Amstrad products were shite though. The Amstrad Spectrums had perversely non-standard joystick ports. The Amstrad PCs had the PSU in the monitor and the CPCs were shit. The least said about the email phone the soonest mended – it tied you into a an ISP deal which was a horror-show.

  • John K

    Sir Alan is a political lightweight, and his appointment is a piece of pure window dressing, in the words of Caroline Flint. Gordon Brown is as obsessed by spin as Tony Blair, his problem is that he’s shit at it.

    If a man like Digby Jones, who was essentially a political operator, was appalled by what he found in government, and at his inability, even as a minister, to change anything, then Lord Sugar of Tut, a man whose political knowledge does not extend beyond boasting of having lunch with the Prime Minister, does not know what he has let himself in for. He will find that he can’t hire anybody, he certainly can’t fire anybody, he can’t make policy, he can’t make decisions, and can’t make anything happen. After a while, he might, like Lord Jones, just fire himself out of the sheer frustration of trying to deal with the civil service. Because the fact is, it cannot be reformed, it can only be abolished, and as sure as the Amstrad E-Mailer was a piece of shit, Lord Sugar will not have that sort of power. Someone send him a box set of “Yes Minister” and “The Thick of It”, he’ll need them.

    By the way, was it just me, or did Yasmina look hot in that porno nurse outfit she was wearing at the “You’re Hired” show? She’s certainly got a couple of assets Sir Alan must have been impressed by, I do hope she enjoys selling wanky advertising screens to doctors’ surgeries. I think the trick in “The Apprentice” is to come second, you get the media profile, but don’t have to work in any of Sir Alan’s rather down market businesses.

  • meme

    Yeah, Yasmina was hot, but I preferred Kate’s hair in the series. There, that’s the sexist bit out of the way.

    But to think all those tasks they had to do in “The Apprentice” and yet all Yasmina ends up doing is selling. Despite what Sugar said at various times in the series, all he wants is a salesperson in the end. The “digital screens” may well be made abroad and the marketing in the hands of other people. But selling… yep, that’s a home-grown talent.

    But maybe that makes Sugar right for Brown’s Palace of Fun: what you say (and promise) and what you do (or aim for) are two different things.

  • Paul Marks

    Stunts like this are a practice that Mr Brown has copied from Mr Blair – accept that Mr Brown does them even more crudely.

  • John K


    That’s the wierd premise of “The Apprentice”. They all fight like rats in a sack for the privilege of working for Sir Alan and the fabled “six figure salary”, yet they don’t actually know what the job on offer is, or how their skills might be appropriate for it. It’s not so much the “job interview from hell” as the job interview from bizarro world.

    For all that, it’s good telly. My worry is that a moron like Gordon Brown, who only briefly had a real job over thirty years ago, might actually think that that is how business works, and that Sir Alan might actually be some sort of business role model. Still, it’s only politics, nothing to do with reality.