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Page last updated at 08:38 GMT, Thursday, 29 December 2011
Guest editor: Sir Victor Blank

Sir Victor Blank

Every year the Today programme hands over the editorship to leading public figures in the week between Christmas and New Year. Editing the programme on 29 December was the former banker and businessman Sir Victor Blank.

His programme looks into leadership in business, politics and sport, and highlights those who give their time to care for people in need.


Sir Victor Blank is interested in leaders who take action that is not necessarily in their own best interest. It was a question that he wanted us to put to his friend FW de Klerk, former president of South Africa.

He also wonders whether the eurozone crisis is down to a lack of good leadership. Bronwen Maddox, editor and chief executive of Prospect Magazine and Lord Owen former British Foreign Secretary discuss if the current crisis is more of a political than a financial one.

Sir Victor has taken a keen interest in the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians for many years. He asked West Bank correspondent Jon Donnison to investigate One Voice, a group he supports, work with Palestinians and Israelis.

The Today programme's Sarah Montague met with former prime minister, and current envoy to the Middle East, Tony Blair to talk about the role that political leadership could, or should, play in the region's conflict resolution.

And to find out whether leaders in sport had anything to teach the political and business classes, he asked Sir Michael Parkinson to ponder the question with former England cricket captain Michael Vaughan.

He also believes that we communicate less in modern day society. He asked the BBC's technology correspondent Rory Cellan-Jones to investigate whether innovations such as email and social media have hindered, rather than helped, communication.

The government's preferred way to fund the arts is to follow the philanthropic model favoured in America. Guest editor Sir Victor Blank is a champion of philanthropy and sees the Oxford Philomusica, which has long been independent of regular government funding, as a model to follow. Nicola Stanbridge reports.

Sir Victor thinks that while we spend a lot of time bashing big pay, we don't spend much time lauding those who do things because they think they're right, but who aren't seeking to put themselves in the limelight.

He asked the programme's Sanchia Berg to track down those people who are giving up their Christmas to care for others.

And he looked back on his time as a Today guest editor.


Sir Victor Blank is the former chairman of Lloyds Banking Group, General Universal Stores and the Trinity Mirror Group. He is now UK business ambassador for the government.

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