May 21, 2011
The British are a generous people. We donate more to humanitarian causes than anyone else in Europe, and by some margin. The average Brit gives twice as much as a Norwegian, three times more than a Belgian, six times more than a German and seven times more than a Frenchman. All told, British households send about £4 billion a year to overseas charities — more than any people in the world, in fact, apart from the Americans. So it is by no means clear why David Cameron believes that, in the middle of a fiscal crisis, he should extract a further £4 billion from us through the tax system and give the money to charities of his choice.
Politicians are not normal people. They are weird. It isn’t politics that has made them weird: it’s their weirdness that has impelled them into politics. Whenever another high-profile minister teeters or falls, the mistake everyone makes is to ask what it is about the nature of their job, the environment they work in and the hours they work, that has made them take such stupid risks. This is the wrong question. We should ask a different one: what is it about these men and women that has attracted them to politics?
There recently left these shores a benign and fecund angel of the automotive realm, Dr Franz Josef Paefgen, retiring chairman and CEO of Bentley. Benign because he was unfailingly polite and helpful and understood the Bentley tradition and the sort of people who buy into it.