The Lord Jones of Birmingham
Official portrait, 2024
Minister of State for Trade
In office
29 June 2007 – 3 October 2008
Prime MinisterGordon Brown
Preceded byIan McCartney
Succeeded byGareth Thomas
Member of the House of Lords
Life peerage
10 July 2007 – 31 August 2020
Personal details
Born
Digby Marritt Jones

(1955-10-28) 28 October 1955 (age 68)
Birmingham, Warwickshire, England
Political partyCrossbench
SpousePatricia Jones
Alma materUniversity College London
ProfessionBusinessman
Websitewww.digbylordjones.com

Digby Marritt Jones, The Lord Jones of Birmingham Kb (born 28 October 1955) is a British businessman and politician who served as Director General of the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) from 2000 to 2006, and Minister of State for Trade from 2007 to 2008. He sat in the House of Lords as a non-aligned active crossbencher until 2020.

Career

Education and business career

Jones was born on 28 October 1955 in Birmingham, England. He was educated at Bromsgrove School where he was Head Boy. From 1974 until 1977, Jones read Law at University College London on a Royal Navy University Cadetship as a Sub-Lieutenant, graduating with upper second class honours.[1] After graduation, Jones worked for 20 years at Edge & Ellison, a firm of lawyers based in Birmingham, culminating in serving as Senior Partner from 1995 to 1998.[1]

Jones was Chairman of the West Midlands Regional Council of the Confederation of British Industry (CBI), and became the first serving regional chairman to be appointed CBI's Director-General, serving from 1 January 2000 to 30 June 2006. He was appointed a Knight Bachelor in the 2005 New Year Honours for services to Business.[2] He then acted as an adviser to Barclays Capital, Ford Motor Company, Deloitte and JCB. In November 2006, Jones was appointed "Business Adviser" to the Duke of York, receiving £1,000 a month from the royal payroll for working one day a month. This position ended upon his appointment as a Minister in July 2007.

Jones was a non-executive director for the IT contractor iSOFT from 2000 until his resignation in July 2005, when he stayed on for one year as an adviser.[citation needed]

Government appointments and peerage

Jones served as the unpaid UK Skills Envoy from 2006 to 2007, before taking up the role of Minister of State for Trade 29 June 2007. The post was situated in both the newly created Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform and the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. He was appointed as a minister in a move to create a government of all the talents.[3] As he was not a parliamentarian at the time, Jones was made a life peer, and became a member of the House of Lords. It was suggested that he was taking the Labour whip in the House of Lords, but he chose not to join the Labour Party. He was gazetted as a peer on 10 July 2007 as Baron Jones of Birmingham, of Alvechurch and of Bromsgrove in the County of Worcestershire,[4] and took his seat in the House of Lords that same day.

Jones had considered running for Mayor of London after being encouraged by a group of prominent businessmen. He was also approached by the Conservative Party about becoming its candidate, but rejected this idea.[5]

In April 2008, Jones announced his intention to resign as Minister of State for Trade later in the year.[6][7] He resigned in October 2008 and was appointed to be a UK Business Ambassador for Trade and Investment.[8] In testimony to the Public Administration Committee he said that his time as a junior minister was "one of the most dehumanising and depersonalising experiences" anyone could have and that he had been amazed by how many civil servants he thought deserved the sack.[9] He was, however, positive about the decision to appoint Peter Mandelson as Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform in the October 2008 reshuffle.[10]

Subsequent political career and retirement

Jones sat as a crossbencher until retiring from the House of Lords on 31 August 2020.[11]

On 20 September 2013, Jones spoke at the UK Independence Party conference in London as a guest speaker, addressing the conference on business and economic matters.

On 29 September 2014, it was rumoured that Jones might defect to the Conservative Party after he introduced the Chancellor of the Exchequer, George Osborne, before his keynote speech at the Conservative Party conference in Birmingham. He said that Osborne "deserves a personal pat on the back" for having "stuck to your guns and did what was right for our country." In response to any rumour regarding a possible defection, Jones stated: "I don't do party politics" and "business is my constituency."[12]

In March 2020, Jones moved permanently to Guernsey, serving as Chairman of the Guernsey Policy & Economics Group.[13]

Political views

Trade unions

In 2006, Jones said of trade unions: "They are in danger of withering on the vine of irrelevance. They are backward looking and not on today's agenda. The trade unions put their members first and not the country. Labour is always in thrall to the unions. People keep banging on about cash for peerages, but the unions have bunged money to the government for years."[14]

Brexit

In July 2016, shortly after the Brexit referendum, Jones argued that the process of exiting the European Union would have minimal impact on the economy and employment, stating: "There's not going to be any economic pain. If there are job losses, they will be very few."[15] According to The New European, he later contradicted this statement, declaring in January 2019 that he had "made it very clear in every speech I gave we would be economically worse off."[16]

Media

Jones was the guest on BBC Radio's Desert Island Discs, broadcast on 21 May 2006. He won BBC One's Celebrity Mastermind with a 9-point margin finishing on 33 points on 5 January 2011. Jones nominated Winston Churchill on BBC Radio 4 Great Lives.[17]

He presented the BBC Two programme The New Troubleshooter where he "helps businesses realise their potential, ruffling feathers and bruising egos along the way as he gets stuck in and delivers his analysis and advice", taking over the mantle of John Harvey-Jones who presented the original series Troubleshooter.[18]

In July 2014 he presented a programme on BBC Radio 4, The Business Covenant.[19]

In 2020 presented a programme looking at how businesses are getting ready for Brexit on Times Radio.[20]

Books

In 2011 Jones published his first book, Fixing Britain: The Business of Reshaping Our Nation (Wiley), which was shortlisted for the 2012 CMI Management Book of the Year.[21]

In 2017 Fixing Business: Making Profitable Business Work for the Good of All, was published in April 2017, also with Wiley.[22]

Honors and interests

Jones has honorary fellowships from Cardiff University, University College London and Cardiff Metropolitan University; and a number of honorary doctorates from various UK universities.[1]

While an active peer, Jones registered his outside interests with the UK parliament. This consisted of a number of chairmanships, paid speaking engagements, shareholdings, and directorships, and positions as an advisor.[23][non-primary source needed]

Personal life

Jones and his wife, Pat, live in Guernsey.[1]

Jones is a supporter of Leicester Tigers (officially Leicester Football Club), Aston Villa FC and a member of the Reform Club. Jones is also Patron of the Triumph Owners’ Motorcycle Club.[24][verification needed]

References

  1. ^ a b c d "Biography of Lord Digby Jones". Retrieved 8 November 2020.[self-published source]
  2. ^ "No. 57509". The London Gazette (Supplement). 31 December 2004. p. 1.
  3. ^ Brown brings in more 'outsiders' BBC News, 29 June 2007
  4. ^ "No. 58392". The London Gazette. 16 July 2007. p. 10219.
  5. ^ "Tories in Digby mayor offer spat". BBC News. 6 July 2007. Retrieved 12 September 2007.
  6. ^ Business minister Lord Jones of Birmingham plans to jump ship Times Online, 15 April 2008
  7. ^ Digby Jones offers Brown 100% support despite plans to quit The Guardian, 16 April 2008
  8. ^ Carl Mortishead (4 October 2008). "Former M&S chairman Paul Myners becomes Minister for the City". The Times. Retrieved 4 October 2008.
  9. ^ Summers, Deborah (16 January 2009). "Brown steps in after Digby Jones calls for half of civil service to be sacked". The Guardian.
  10. ^ Jones, Digby (8 June 2009). Crash Gordon: The Financial Crisis. Event occurs at 30:00. Bringing him in as Secretary of State for Business was inspired. It dealt with the warring factions within the ruling party and, at the same time, it gave the business community, which was very much under the cosh, suddenly thought they got a friend at court.
  11. ^ "Lord Jones of Birmingham". UK Parliament. Retrieved 1 September 2020.
  12. ^ "Conservative Party Conference 2014: live". The Daily Telegraph. 29 September 2014. Archived from the original on 29 September 2014.
  13. ^ "GPEG: Team". gpeg.org.
  14. ^ Elliott, Larry (26 June 2006). "Sir Digby rides off with all guns blazing". The Guardian. Retrieved 25 July 2007.
  15. ^ "Blame it on the Brexit: But is it just an excuse?". BBC News. 26 July 2016.
  16. ^ Read, Jonathon (30 January 2019). "WATCH: Brexiteer says he never said you'd be better off from Brexit". The New European.
  17. ^ "Winston Churchill, Series 22, Great Lives - BBC Radio 4". BBC.
  18. ^ "BBC Two – Digby Jones: The New Troubleshooter". Retrieved 30 April 2014.
  19. ^ "BBC Radio 4 - the Business Covenant".
  20. ^ Lerone, Toby (2 June 2020). "Launch date and schedule revealed for Times Radio". RadioToday. Retrieved 3 June 2020.
  21. ^ "CMI Management Book of the Year – Celebrating excellence in all areas of Management and Leadership writing". Management Book of the Year. Archived from the original on 20 January 2016. Retrieved 15 January 2016.
  22. ^ "Fixing Business: Making Profitable Business Work for the Good of All | Wiley".
  23. ^ "Register of Interests for Lord Jones of Birmingham - MPs and Lords - UK Parliament". members.parliament.uk.
  24. ^ "Appointment is a Triumph for Lord (Digby) Jones". Business Live. 3 May 2009.
Business positions Preceded byAdair Turner Director of the Confederation of British Industry 2000–2006 Succeeded byRichard Lambert Political offices Preceded byIan McCartney Minister of State for Trade 2007–2008 Succeeded byGareth Thomas Orders of precedence in the United Kingdom Preceded byThe Lord West of Spithead GentlemenBaron Jones of Birmingham Followed byThe Lord Darzi of Denham