The official publication of Greater Birmingham Chambers of Commerce

LINK Cannock Chase

Chamber of Commerce

Editor’s View

By John Lamb

Championing region’s youth I

can’t remember at which stage of the lockdown it was. But I was in the office virtually on my own and our local coffee

shop was open. After ordering my drink and waiting at the

Sutton Coldfield

Chamber of Commerce

Greater Birmingham

Commonwealth Chamber of Commerce

correct social distance a customer came in with his little boy. The youngster kept looking at me but turned shyly away when I smiled and said hello. Eventually he pulled on his dad’s sleeve and

Greater Birmingham

Transatlantic Chamber of Commerce

whispered: “Daddy, is that Boris Johnson?” Now I do have fairish hair and at that time it

Front cover: Stepping up: Henrietta Brealey See page 6

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was a long time since I’d been to the barber and it was probably a bit unruly from walking across the road. But the Prime Minister? Never surely… I said I was glad I was not him and we had a

good laugh. But I’ve remembered the incident several times as I’ve watched Mr Johnson on television and asked myself: “Who would be the PM?” Over the years, many leaders of our country

have distinguished themselves at the height of crises and others have failed miserably. Cometh the hour, cometh the man (or woman, of course)… But I can’t help feeling that Boris has been

dealt a rough deal as a man who apparently has a libertarian spirit rather than one suitable for imposing austere Covid-19 measures. I’ve never met the man, so I don’t know. Other

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leaders I have met or whose company I have enjoyed have always impressed me, no matter their political colours. I was impressed with Tony Blair when he was

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a guest at a Chamber lunch when he was PM. But I always felt the best Prime Minster we never had was William Hague (now Baron Hague of Richmond). Some of you may remember that he was lionised by the then PM Margaret Thatcher

as the 16-year-old Hague spoke against the evils of socialism at the 1977 Tory Party conference in Blackpool. But thereafter, the Iron Lady dismissed

pressure to give Hague ministerial office as a 21- year-old MP as a gimmick. And he didn’t reach high ministerial level until he served as Foreign Secretary in David Cameron’s cabinet. I met Hague when he was resting between

political engagements and writing a biography on William Pitt the Younger. At the age of 36, Hague had become the youngest leader of the Conservative Party since Pitt. He had been hosting a Birmingham Law

Society awards evening at the ICC and myself, and another regional journalist, enjoyed a long session at the bar with him afterwards. Remember those days? This brings me to the theme of this piece –

youth. Like Hague and Pitt before him, what a joy it is to see young people stepping up to take on critical roles. Birmingham, as the youngest city in Europe, now has the youngest leader of the historic Greater Birmingham Chambers of Commerce in Henrietta Brealey. As they say, if you’re good enough you’re old

enough. We wish her well as she steps into the shoes of Paul Faulkner, who has had a large impact on the city region over the past six years. Business generally has a long way to go, but thankfully personnel at board and managerial in the private and even public sectors are gradually getting younger and you only have to look at the amazing array of talent in our own Future Faces division. Having said that, some of us hope that there

might still be room for a little experience for a few more years…

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