City & Corporate: Guest columnist - Could bankers find a military boost?

I have a suggestion that would at a stroke transform the reputation of all of us involved in the financial community in the eyes of the British public. It might even help our beleaguered government or one of the opposition parties.

Last week head of the British Army Sir Richard Dannatt dared suggest more money should be spent on defending our soldiers in the field. He was accused of playing politics when as a mere soldier he should keep his counsel. But when a minister accuses anyone of 'playing politics' you can be sure an uncomfortable truth has been told and everyone's ears should prick up.

Government propagandists are lining up to assassinate our most senior soldier. He has 'stepped out of line'. He has 'exceeded his brief'.

And above all, if he didn't like what was happening he should have resigned. The fact he didn't, say the 'playing politics' apologists, means he signed up to this appalling mess in the first place. He is complicit.

Has anyone met a soldier? Soldiers don't resign. They try to make the best of what is almost always a bad job. I think the public and most of the media accept that, but they don't have the same mindset when it comes to business people, who, it seems, should resign immediately when anything goes wrong.

However much I agree with Sir Richard, I think he may have missed a trick. My advice to him would be to 'phone a friend' in the City and start a campaign to raise money for our troops. Protective clothing, armour plating, helicopters even. Talking of helicopters, my first call would be to Terry Smith, chairman of Collins Stewart and CEO of Tullett Prebon, a noted military enthusiast, chopper pilot and someone not politically 'aligned'.

I'd like to bet Smith, or someone with the same drive, intellect and contacts book, could open the wallets of investment bankers, hedge fund bosses and the panoply of City-related folk who are about to be vilified for receiving performance-related bonuses. The Government could perhaps be shamed into matching the amount raised privately from the public purse.

Now that's a campaign with which I would love to be involved.

- Nick Miles is co-founder of M: Communications

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