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Only two Brits on Forbes’ Most Powerful list – why not more?

If Forbes’ 70 Most Powerful list is any yardstick by which to meaure power brokers of the world, London figures nowhere.

There are only two Britons/Londoners to have made it onto the list: Prime Minister David Cameron and steel magnate Lakshmi Mittal.

At number 10 on the list, Cameron is referred to as a “punching bag for the UK” who got engulfed in the phone-hacking scandal after hiring former News of the World editor Andy Coulson.

Mittal, who features at 41, has seen his net worth decrease to $6.9bn as shares of ArcelorMittal dropped by 40 per cent this year.

We asked London’s business scene why we didn’t see more British faces on the list of “People who matter”…

“London is probably the most cosmopolitan city in the world but it won’t feature on global power lists because our government isn’t doing enough to promote our businesses around the world.

“Take cuts in the BBC World Service for example – if you shut the window that is your interface to the world, how do you expect to be a power broker?

“Also, what London needs right now is to put an end to the Heathwick nonsense and build another airport to ease of the load from Gatwick and Heathrow.”

“The reason we don’t have many Londoners/Brits on the list is because of the ridiculous, be-all-and-end-all university-based approach we have to education in this country. Whilst other countries encourage their young to actually get on and do something, here in the UK we sell them the dream that if they would just get a degree (even a useless one from a poor uni), then they will go on to great jobs or careers or businesses.

“Our poor kids therefore spend countless, pointless hours learning facts (and more often than not misinformation) about a broad range of irrelevant things. Until we go back to the idea of apprenticeships and starting at the bottom to work your way up in an industry or organisation we will continue to lag further and further behind the rest of the world who have come to realise that the learning is in the doing.”

“Britons are reserved and keep low profile unlike the Americans who would shout from the roofs when they’ve bagged that business contract. Therefore, I think we have absolutely no reason to worry about because even amidst the doom and gloom surrounding business, London’s doing pretty well.”

“I think the list is just too personality-based and fails to acknowledge the laurels UK has in its kitty. Look at the Silicon Roundabout or the laurels London has bagged as the host of London 2012 Olympics – I think we’ve got a very emphatic international appeal that should not go unnoticed.”

“It is surprising that the only two Britons to appear on the list are a politician and a steel magnate. It has been long assumed that manufacturing and industry are dying businesses in the UK, and with a Coalition government in power and a European crisis around the corner, we can’t assume that the country will be at the political forefront as it has been historically.

“Of the others on the list, it seems that passion, innovation and philanthropy are key features that determine power (in the Forbes sense), although it is disappointing that Steve Jobs has so soon been disregarded who, on the face of it, possessed all three.

“Having an eye to the bigger picture also seems essential. Maybe Londoners and Britons should be looking ahead in these hard times, maximising opportunities and making a move on the global stage. It will be interesting to see the influence of China and other mass markets on the list in the coming years.”

“We’ve already seen some businesses move their headquarters away from London to elsewhere in a bid to find a better deal – Cadbury openly moved to Switzerland to avoid high taxes – and it’s incredibly damaging to London’s reputation as a business leader. The Government has understandably taken action against the banks in light of the financial crisis and introduced stricter regulation, but the new rules have clearly had a knock-on effect for businesses and the Government has done very little to rectify that problem.

“It’s really very simple – the success of a business and a business leader is dependent on its environment. Currently London is an extremely inhospitable place for businesses and entrepreneurs are understandably cautious of committing long-term futures to the capital.”

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