To Leeds last night for a very enjoyable dinner with some of Yorkshire’s top business people, and publication by BDO of a report into the prospects for the county’s economy (strapline STRONGER, LEANER, FITTER).
The diners had voting pads and could express instant views about their hopes for the future. It won’t surprise you to know there was a mixed picture, a fair amount of optimism about their own companies among the gloom about the economy in general.
A few other snapshots I detected – very mixed views on getting rid of the RDAs, not much understanding of the new Local Economic Partnerships; a fair amount of concern about where and how the private sector was going to fill the employment gap left by public sector sackings; not much respect for the Lib Dems who people seem to think are becoming something of a laughing stock (and not just Clegg but Huhne and Cable too); and more respect for Osborne as Chancellor than there is for Cameron as PM, at least so far as any economic or political direction is concerned.
One of the highlights for me, however, (how sad is this???) was meeting the man, now a Leeds-based businessman, whose Dad installed the first floodlights at Turf Moor, and also put in the system for the first heated stand (sic) at Burnley back in the 70s. Oh we had a right old natter.
There were two Burnley fans there, the same number I met at a service station stop on the way up. Which brings me neatly to the continuing BBC hype of the great sporting event of the weekend, my Football Focus predictions play off with fellow table topper Alan Sugar.
The programme’s presenter Dan Walker has now put up three different films from my head to head with Sugar, which are at the bottom of this posting.
Meanwhile here are the predictions we made. I am quietly confident that having seen off David Cameron, Lee Dixon, Mark Lawrenson, Liam Gallagher and many others, I can beat Lord Sugar too.
(My scores first)
Villa-Liverpool 1-2 1-2
Bolton-Man City 0-1 1-0
Everton-Chelsea 1-1 2-2
Fulham-Arsenal 1-1 2-1
Man U-Blackpool 3-1 1-2
Newcastle-West Brom 2-1 2-1
Stoke-Wigan 2-2 2-3
Spurs-B’ham 2-0 2-1
West Ham-S’land 1-2 2-1
Wolves-Blackburn 1-1 2-1
Finally, and still on football, good to see Liverpool fan Michael Elliott, who is the distinguished editor of Time International, recognising that Alex Ferguson is the best ever, not just at football, but any sport. Here is his piece