Esther McVey suggests starting a business: but her own is in debt

Is McVey the best face of entrepreneurship, given her background?


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Former daytime TV presenter, and now the new Employment Minister, Esther McVey, has spoken out in favour of people starting their own business. However, it emerges that she may not be the ideal face to put on this particular message - because a company she set up before she entered politics is now £56,847 in debt.

So does this make her more or less qualified to be Employment Minister?

McVey wasn't demanding that everyone leaves school and strikes out on their own at the earlier possible opportunity. She said there were different routes that would suit different people, but that for those with an idea and the drive to make it happen, starting their own business could be the right choice.

Her business

McVey herself has made her own way, after gaining a degree, she worked as a TV presenter, spent some time working for the family construction firm, and then set up a business of her own. It's the financial issues her own business faced that have led to raised eyebrows.

The company is Making It, which provides training for small and medium-sized businesses as well as serviced offices for new businesses. The Daily Mirror has quoted a source who claims that McVey has personally borrowed the money to keep the business afloat, after the economic downturn. Now the business owes her more than £56,847.

She is certainly not the only supplier to smaller companies who has struggled in the downturn. As smaller businesses failed, they left many bills unpaid, which makes running a profitable business serving these companies more difficult. Changes in the rules on bank lending mean she is not the first business owner to have had to dig deep to support their business either.

Is this background good for her role?

In terms of how it affects her right to be Employment Minister, the Daily Record adds that the source said her money issues helped her relate to voters with struggles of their own.

Of course, ministers with employment in their portfolio haven't always been experts in the field. There have been a fair smattering of academics, from Thomas James Macnamara, who was Minister for Labour in the 1920s and a former school teacher, through Rab Butler (a former academic) and more recently Gillian Shephard - a former teacher turned education inspector.

There has been no shortage of lawyers in the post too. In the 1930s, it was held by Henry Betterton and Oliver Stanley - both of whom were former barristers - and this tradition was continued when Michael Howard took the role.

There have been plenty of journalists taking the reins, including Norman Fowler and Norman Tebbit - who was not only a former journalist, but also a war veteran and a pilot.

So a former TV presenter, with experience of running a business in difficult times, may actually be more appropriate than some of her predecessors. Unfortunately for her, it seems she is going to get a harder time for it in the media.

Esther McVey's office has been contacted for comment, but has yet to respond.

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