Lunch with... Stephen Pomeroy
PRCA director general Francis Ingham grabs a bite with Remarkable Group CEO Stephen Pomeroy at Shepherd's restaurant.
I meet with Stephen Pomeroy just after his firm has acquired HardHat, merging it in with Remarkable Engagement, the public consultation and stakeholder communications team in the Remarkable Group. So - not surprisingly - he is in chipper mood. I ask him what this meant for the company
He tells me: "It will make us the largest agency providing public consultation and stakeholder communications in the UK. In that specialism, we will be the largest player in London. And the largest player outside of London too of course."
A good reason to celebrate obviously. It was also the day that Paul Nuttall was elected UKIP Leader. Did that put Stephen in celebratory mode I ask?
"The political scene is changing. Is it changing for the better? I don’t think so. But what it’s demonstrating is that the main parties don’t have any ideology, really. They’re not following clear, ideological policies and it’s weakening them. It’s giving people like UKIP a bigger platform than you would want them to have."
And his view of the Tories?
"I don’t actually think the Tory Party - which I’ve been involved with for a long time now- has a really clear path. They’re in a situation where they’re making policy statements at Party Conference and then, just a few weeks later, that policy is being dropped."
By which he means the brief notion of firms being made to number their foreign workers. With such a slim majority, does he think May will go to the country early?
"I hope she doesn’t. We need stability. That’s all that I’ve wanted since the recession- stability in the economy, which means stability for business. We had the General Election, then we had the big debate around Europe, and then the aftermath of the Europe vote. Do we want another election? For me, no. I’d rather have some years of stability. Would it be right for the country to have another election? I don’t think so. I think we all have election fatigue at the moment." Which is a valid point really. But when the election finally does happen, who will the protagonists be, I ask?
"I think it’ll be Corbyn, if that’s what you mean. They’ve tried to re-establish mainstream leadership within Labour, and they haven’t managed to do it. I can’t see them doing that over the next four years."
I ask Stephen what me makes of Paul Nuttall’s pitch to Labour voters. And he’s shockingly honest in his response.
"I don’t know if I’m the right person to answer that because I got it so wrong over Brexit! One of my Board Non-Execs was telling me that we don’t see what’s happening in other parts of the country. You’ve got the London bubble. You’ve got the southern bubble. and sometimes we don’t see outside of those bubbles."
We turn our attention across the Atlantic. And again, it’s the simple, honest decency of Pomeroy that shines out: "I got that one wrong as well!"
The question is, are you thinking with your mind or thinking with your heart?
"I just didn’t expect educated people to vote for someone who clearly wasn’t demonstrating any policies, but was focused instead very much on the negatives within American society. But then again, if you look at the votes, and if you look at how close the States were, it’s not like he’s got a roaring endorsement, now is it?
"I stayed at home for election night, and I’m glad I did because I’d been invited to a party which was sympathetic to the Clinton campaign. I went to sleep just before some of the key results came in, thinking that Hilary Clinton had won. I had my radio on all night, as I do, and then at about four in the morning, I heard that Trump had got it."
Finally, I ask Stephen to tell our readers one thing they might not know about him. He laughs and then reveals all.
"Whilst I eat a lot, I keep my weight down by exercise, and one of the areas I particularly enjoy is boxing. I have a very good boxing trainer, which means I have a formidable punch, if I ever need to use it. "
It only remains for me to observe that Remarkable has always packed a punch...
Deep fried sprats followed by Shepherds pie
Sausage followed by glazed ham
Diet coke and Sancerre (not mixed together you’ll be relieved to hear)