January 30, 2009
Posted: 1238 GMT
DAVOS, Switzerland - Let me start by saying sorry. There is no way to get through this blog without a dose of shameless namedropping. How else can I tell you what the great and good have been telling me?
When Richard met Tony... sort of...
For instance, this morning it was a short coffee bar chat with HRH Prince Andrew on British industry and how it's weathering the recession. Prince Andrew told me he is spending a lot of time in the UK talking to industry. As Special Representative for UK Trade he can act as a link between all sides in the economy. I will press on this in my Friday interview with him which you can see on tonight's show. Then there was a quiet talk with James Hogan, the CEO of the Abu Dhabi airline Etihad about his plans for his new A380s.
Sometimes these "meetings" are mere nods in corridors (for instance with the Russian deputy prime minister), other times they are full-frontal interviews such as discussing the Ukraine-Russia gas dispute with the President of the European Commission, Jose Manuel Barroso.
There is something about being in Davos that lets leaders become more reflective and often expansive. Trevor Manuel, finance minister of South Africa, for instance, talked to me about whether he will remain FM after the election (yes, if asked, but not forever was his answer).
Often these meetings are nothing more than "bragging rights."
"Oh yes, I saw Tony Blair," I will tell friends, conveniently leaving out the fact Blair was being rushed to the front of a security line; I was standing near the back... we brushed shoulders. But - hey - I "met" him.