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Beckham: the people's choice from scoresheet to banknote


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Beckham: the people's choice from scoresheet to banknote



Larry Elliott

Wednesday June 6, 2007

The Guardian



The Bank of England governor Mervyn King may have a taste of what it is like to be Steve McClaren if David Beckham slots home one of his trademark free kicks in Estonia tonight.

At a time when the public has been less than impressed by the governor's choice of Adam Smith to adorn the new £20 note, the "Becks for banknotes" campaign will get a boost should the recalled winger help his country to a victory.


Beckham is one of a list of modern sportsmen, musicians and actors put forward by the public as alternatives to the choices made by Threadneedle Street, which have been sometimes criticised for relying too heavily on dead, white males. Robbie Williams, The Beatles, Mick Jagger, Richard Branson, England's cricket captain, Michael Vaughan, and the rugby player Jonny Wilkinson all feature on the list with figures from history such as Francis Drake and Winston Churchill.

The chat show hosts Terry Wogan and Michael Parkinson also had their supporters, as did Jimmy Savile.


Smith, one of three economists on the list, replaced Sir Edward Elgar on the £20 note in March, but the Bank said the switch had proved controversial.


A spokesman said complaints about Smith had focused on his Scottish origins. Scotland has its own banknotes, and some people in England have objected to the author of the Wealth of Nations having pride of place on notes issued south of the border.


The spokesman made it clear that the Bank stuck by its decision. "We are the central bank for the UK. We don't see why nationality within the UK should be an issue for us." There had also been complaints about Elgar being dropped in the year that marks the 150th anniversary of his birth.


In a webcast on the Bank's website, Mr King said he had chosen Smith because he was "the greatest economist this country has produced". Not only had Smith influenced the way the world thought about the benefits of market economics, he had identified the need for institutions which control and regulate market economies.


Although Beckham exemplifies two of Smith's key tenets- workers specialising in what they do best and the advantages of international trade - there seems no immediate prospect he will be the latest figure from British life to feature on a note. Mr King said it "took time" to see how a reputation evolved. Beckham might, however, have had a better chance had he chosen a different club from LA Galaxy. The governor is a lifelong Aston Villa fan.

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