ALL governments like to appoint “special advisers” to show they're not relying on fuddy-duddy civil servants for their ideas. Whether its chefs to advise on school meals, or fashion designers on high street shopping, or even Oxford Street moguls, on how the government could save money, most of these people come and go without achieving anything of lasting value. TV is a favourite recruiting ground for them since the face is familiar and their following may be in millions. So the government recently invited James Caan of Dragons' Den fame to become an adviser on “social mobility” and lead a campaign to make job opportunities open to all school leavers.

Yesterday, his name appeared at the head of a letter in The Times signed by more than twenty business leaders who support “opening doors through fair recruitment”. He also appeared on TV to tell parents that they should leave their children to find their first job by themselves.

Unfortunately, Mr Caan does not seem to practice what he preaches. It has emerged that he employed his daughter at his own business, three weeks after she left university, and a second daughter has recently started work with a recruitment compoany in which he has invested. He says they both competed on equal terms with others for the jobs without his help, but most people will find that difficult to believe.

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