Title for man who put cash into CTC

5th January 1996 at 00:00
For conspiracy theorists, Stanley Kalms, created a knight in the New Year honours list, is a suitable case for study. His main role in life is running the Dixons chain of shops - his citation says he has earned his honour for services to the electrical retailing industry - but he also wields considerable power and influence in education.

He has been a firm supporter of the Government's education reforms and was one of the few businessmen to back the idea of city technology colleges with hard cash. Sir Stanley put up Pounds 2 million for the Dixons CTC in Bradford and is a regular visitor.

The 64-year-old who built an electrical empire from his father's small photographic company, was drawn into politics by an admiration for Mrs Thatcher. His own Jewish middle-class background is not far removed from that of Mrs Thatcher's grocer father, Alderman Roberts.

These days, he retains his access to the Conservative leadership and is an occasional adviser to John Major. Sir Stanley is no less an enthusiast for grant-maintained schools than the Prime Minister.

Such enthusiasm is a useful, if not an actual requirement, for his membership of the Funding Agency for Schools, the quango that is responsible for the opted-out sector. The job is not arduous, but should the Conservatives win the next election, the agency is likely to take on responsibility for all secondary schools.

Like Mr Major, he did not particularly shine as a pupil. He does not remember his schooldays at grammar school in Finchley with any fondness. To this day he resents the comment from his headteacher that the young Stanley was lucky to achieve his matriculation. His own three sons were educated privately.

In business, Sir Stanley is reputed to be a remorseless and hard-working operator who has prospered despite a tough climate for electrical equipment. There are now around 1,000 Dixons shops with a sales turnover approaching Pounds 2 billion. The company is a contributor to Conservative party funds.

In education, Sir Stanley is reputed to be a power behind the scenes. For the past five years he has been a director of the Centre for Policy Studies, the think-tank founded by Sir Keith Joseph. He is rumoured to have been the key figure in the appointment of Tessa Keswick, a former political adviser to the Chancellor, as the centre's new director.

His knighthood is the reward to be expected from a loyal courtier.

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