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Mone poised for debut Lords speech amid further cynicism

Michelle Mone LordsMichelle Mone will give her maiden speech as Baroness Mone of Mayfair in the House of Lords tomorrow as she continues to face a backlash of criticism about her credentials.

Lady Mone, who was elevated to the Upper House last August, will speak about women’s rights.

Her admission to the Lords coincided with her appointment as an adviser to the UK government on small business start-ups, which drew criticism from business leaders who questioned her suitability for the role.

Her tour of Britain, investigating why those in poorer areas struggled to set up businesses, was met with derision. The report, just published, was greeted with virtual apathy, or more criticism.

The top barriers, the review found, were primarily emotional. Lack of confidence was number one, followed by loneliness, income insecurity and not knowing where to look for support.

Lady Mone said these could be overcome in particular via mentoring; and urged anyone who is self employed to consider mentoring others.

Those who have responded did so with yet more cynicism, prompting her to say in a Sunday newspaper today that she could not understand why she faced such hostility.

In an article headlined: That’s enough. ‘Lady Knickers’ lets rip at her poisonous peers she asked: “”Is it because I’m a woman, or Scottish, or white, or a mother, that people don’t like me?”

‘I read her ‘report’ & thought it was shocking’

Scottish entrepreneur Ian Ritchie said on Facebook: “No, it’s none of these, it’s because you claim to be a successful businesswoman and an expert in entrepreneurship, and you are clearly neither of these.”

Another, Amanda Boyle, said of Lady Mone’s report: “Much of this included in my MBA disertation … in 1994!!”

Lisa Thomson said:  “I read her ‘report’ & thought it was shocking…& the major recommendation was that more mentoring should be provided by successful entrepreneurs to give back.”

Lady Mone, whom one paper calls ‘Baroness Bra’,  has been tweeting regularly about progress on her debut speech in the Lords. On Friday she tweeted: “So nervous about my maiden speech on Mon. Changed it again. I need to chill & work on my confidence.”

Many critics have labelled her a lightweight who is more interested in self-publicity. While touring the UK’s deprived areas she has been tweeting about her trips to the Caribbean where the new man in her life is a club professional golfer. She claims she has never been happier.

She is a popular motivational speaker around the world and her book has received global acclaim from many who have seen it as uplifting and inspirational.

But even among her supporters are those who wonder how she comes to be worth in excess of £20 million and how she has earned the status of business guru on the back of one company which came close to going under and a couple of others still in their infancy.

MJM International, the company that produced the Ultimo lingerie range struggled to make a decent profit and had liabilities of £287,168 in its last trading year before it was wound up.

The accounts revealed that Mone had to pump some of her own cash into MJM in the form of a £40,915 loan.

A year earlier she bought out her estranged husband, leaving both with considerable debts.

She latterly defended the Ultimo brand, now part of a different business which she sold to a Sri Lankan firm. She said the company, in which she retains a 20% stake, was still expanding around the world.

Even so, the trading record of her businesses continues to perplex many observers. Before its latest difficulties, MJM was bailed out via a loan from her friend and mentor Sir Tom Hunter. She launched a fake tanning company and a diet pill business, but in October resigned from the latter.

Controversy followed her to BBC Radio Four when she gave an interview on Woman’s Hour and was forced to defend herself against allegations of tax avoidance.

“I have never done anything to break the law and I never will,”she said.

Read Lady Mone’s report here

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