The UK news and current affairs magazine Private Eye reported recently on an appearance by Johan Eliasch in front of a Commons select committee. Private Eye notes that he seemed to have little interest in the matter under discussion.
No. 1266, 26 December 2008 – 8 January 2009, page 6
Swedish stockbroker Eliasch was a member of David Cameron’s big-money set until he unexpectedly jumped to Labour and was made Brown’s “Special Representative on Deforestation and Clean Energy”. When he appeared in front of the environmental audit committee the adjective should perhaps have been “silent” rather than “special”.
Eliasch has the personal satisfaction of having his name affixed to the grandly named “Eliasch Review” of rainforest financing which was launched a couple of months ago. But is it any more than an ego trip for the Swede?
At the environmental audit committee he spent much of the time gazing into the middle distance, picking food out of his teeth, looking at his heavy, silvery wristwatch and generally radiating immense boredom. Add to that his shaved head, guttural accent, a prosperous-looking suntan and a habit of shrugging when answering questions, and the no-doubt entirely unfortunate image was of some political blow-in who had little urgent interest in the subject. What he did say was either hard to understand or contained the fashionable bullshit word, “robust”.
Eliasch appeared alongside two civil servants from the Office of Climate Change. One of these was called Graham Floater – a good surname for someone studying global warming. Floater and his mate took most of the technical questions, Eliasch sitting between the two of them, gazing imperiously at nothing very much. All in all, not an impressive performance.
Immediately afterwards the committee heard from a couple of macrobiotic eco-activists, one from Greenpeace, the other from Friends of the Earth. They were much livelier and full of scorn for Eliasch. Alas, the prime minister’s special representative had not seen fit to hang about to listen to their interest. No doubt, he’d rushed off to save the world, or maybe earn himself a few bob on the stock market.