Was Cameron right to appoint Michelle Mone “startup czar”?


The Prime Minister’s judgement was questioned by business leaders and politicians after he appointment of Michelle Mone as the UK Government’s “start-up czar”, with one executive suggesting he must have “lost his marbles”.

While Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith said no-one was “better qualified to help young entrepreneurs from deprived backgrounds”, others, including Scottish tech entrepreneur Ian Ritchie and GAP Group director Douglas Anderson, have questioned her credentials. One Scottish Tory added: “She’s a personal brand rather than a serious businesswoman”.

But in her latest Huffington Post column, our programmes director Annabel Denham suggests that the problem is not with Mone – who has since been appointed a Tory peer and whose success story is “extraordinary” – but with the very notion of “czarships”. As she points out:

There is little evidence to suggest that plucking someone from a particular industry, giving them direct access to ministers and use of government resources in exchange for “expert advice” is a good idea. As Ruth Levitt, senior research fellow at King’s College London, recently pointed out: such informal arrangements are “vulnerable to ministerial idiosyncrasy, opaque procedures, lack of accountability, and things can go wrong”.

However, in the right role or environment, using expert advisers from a given industry can add value to government policy and enhance the overall quality of advice given to ministers. But instead of taking on fluffy or ambiguous titles, entrepreneurs should instead respond to consultations that they can directly influence, should attend events held by organisations like The Entrepreneurs Network, and if they’re truly passionate about a certain issue, they should write about it.

Read the blog post in full here.