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The summary dismissal of CBI chief Tony Danker was grimly predictable, but may be just the first of a battalion of troubles. Truly concerning is the continuing investigation into allegations – which have nothing to do with Danker – of serious misconduct by other staff.

In addition to specific inquiries into these matters, the CBI has kicked off a “root and branch review into its culture and governance”.

Should the food and drink industry care? Do we really need the CBI, the Chambers of Commerce, the Institute of Directors, the Federation of Small Businesses and Make UK, together with the FDF and all the other sector-specific trade associations?

In addition, what is the place for all the smaller – but highly effective – associations that represent individual parts of our industry, for example soft drinks (BSDA) or frozen food (BFFF)? At a time when inflation is rampant, surely this is overkill.

I absolutely do not celebrate the CBI’s difficulties or seek its demise. I do think this a hubristic moment that should provoke significant change in its scale and character. The time is ripe for rationalisation, if only of the back office costs, of our forest of representative bodies. We had a good go at that when I was at the FDF, bringing more than a dozen smaller associations under our umbrella.

We also brought more than 50 food and drink trade associations together on a monthly, sometimes weekly, basis in the Food & Drink Trade Association Round Table. It led industry co-operation on Brexit and Covid. Its work significantly improved the quality of representation and improved impact on UK government and devolved administrations policy during those extremely difficult crises. That success points the way to the future.

In fairness, the CBI has sometimes sought to do a similar job among the organisations that represent UK business at a sectoral level. That co-ordinating and convening role can be immensely valuable. It must be the case that this sort of UK business council will have more clout with the Treasury or the Department of Business & Trade.

But if it is to survive, the CBI will need the active support of those smaller organisations like the FDF. It must stop trying to compete for company membership. It must present a cohesive offer to potential member companies that assigns responsibilities to business partners like the FDF and the BFFF. It must utilise their expertise, not seek to duplicate it.

The ‘C’ in CBI stands for Confederation. That implies convening and co-operation, not an aspiration to be the entitled leader of British industry. If the CBI can recast itself in that sort of direction, the food and drink industry – indeed UK business as a whole – will do all it can to help it overcome its troubles. If not, it’s toast.