The chairman faces a question over the impact of radical politics in the workplace and the rise of Ukip
“Do you think a fund manager’s political sympathies should make any difference to their ability to run money successfully?” I asked the chairman of the implausibly-sized investment company Second Coming Asset Management as we enjoyed a few pints of About Time at The Distinctive Charmer Joins Artemis.
“That’s a tough question on which to make a fully informed judgement,” the chairman replied. “Because of course one comes across so few Marxists or members of the Socialist Workers Party in the City these days – except when there is some sort of protest on and then obviously I tend not to stick around to chat.”
“I think you know to what or rather whom I am referring,” I said before that particular stream of consciousness became a torrent. “Yes, I suppose I do,” sighed the chairman. “And may I first say what a sorry state of affairs we have reached when people start name-calling simply because someone holds a different political view to them.
“To address your question, I will tell you what I spent far too much of my weekend telling other journalists – Ida Swivelling-Loon is a valued Scam fund manager, her political views are entirely her own and she will remain an employee of the firm right up to the moment she really begins to embarrass us.
“That said, I’m hopeful the media will have lost interest in a week or two – they usually do. Anyway, as one of that breed, can you shed any light on why the press is quite so obsessed with Ida joining up with Ukip? I mean, whatever happened to free speech? Whatever happened to democracy?” “I think they both shrank,” I replied.
“These days the political battlefield is so narrow it is more of a peninsular and so, labouring that analogy further, those on either side of the consensus can find themselves in quite deep water.”
“Exactly,” nodded the chairman. “And in that context, I actually have a lot of sympathy with young Crispin Odey’s thoughts as they appeared in The Telegraph the other day.
“As I understand it, he threw that financial-services Ukip fundraiser a little while back because he thought it was essential for people to hear the Farage side of the debate. I believe he sees that debate as ‘either we change the constitution of Europe, to make it much more democratic, or we get out’, which seems …”
“Hang on, I said. “Where you at the Odey bash then?” “Good lord, no,” said the chairman. “The last time I went to a financial-services political fundraiser, it was Tory in flavour and I sat with a few of the great and occasionally good of the investment industry. However, another table consisted of Peter Stringfellow and nine of his, er, employees and that was just too weird for me.”
“I can imagine,” I said. “There are still times I like to imagine it too,” replied the chairman with an odd look in his eye. “But it wasn’t politics as I know it.” “You know, I think your main issue with Ida may be one of timing,” I said. “Ukip’s detractors find it easier to do their detracting if they can draw subliminal links to people like the EDL and those boys have obviously been quite active of late.
“A skim through the more than 3,600 so-called comments that followed that Telegraph piece on Ukip wooing city firms – presumably that means Sir Stuart Wheeler rather than Farage – reveals the huge public relations dangers for Scam here. I know I certainly wouldn’t want to see references to Enoch Powell and ‘rivers of blood’ after an article containing my firm’s name.”
“Yes, that was awkward,” the chairman nodded. “But unless Ida decides she is going to stand as a Ukip candidate at the European elections or even the general one, then I am quite confident this will all blow over for Scam soon enough.” “Hey,” I said as a thought struck me. “You don’t think the giant stone ‘chicken coop’ Crispin Odey is building at his home in the style of a Greek temple is actually the new Ukip headquarters, do you?” “If it were, I hardly think it would be Greek,” observed the chairman.