James Arbuthnot

The Rt. Hon Lord Arbuthnot of Edrom
James Arbuthnot
  • Former UK Minister of State for Defence Procurement, and Chief Whip
  • Former chairman of Neuro-Bio Ltd and director of SC Strategy Ltd, Gusbourne Estates Ltd, and Astutus Strategy Ltd
  • Uses vast experience to speak on topics related to politics, defence, and cyber security

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Lord (James) Arbuthnot is Chairman of the Advisory Board of Thales (UK) and of Neuro-Bio Ltd, a director of SC Strategy Ltd , Gusbourne Estates Ltd, Astutus Strategy Ltd and an adviser to Babcock International, Pure Storage and other companies. He has a long history of involvement at the top of UK defence and political life, having been a Conservative MP for 28 years, Minister of State for Defence Procurement (1995-7), Conservative Chief Whip (1997-2001), and Chairman of the Defence Select Committee (2005-2014) and is a Senior Associate Fellow of the Royal United Services Institute.

James served as a member of Her Majesty’s Government under Prime Minister John Major, acting as Government Whip (1992-1994), Parliamentary Under Secretary of State, Department of Social Security (1994-1995) and Minister of State for Defence Procurement (1995-1997). He spent four years as opposition Chief Whip from 1997-2001. He became a Life Peer in October 2015.

James Arbuthnot is the Chairman of the advisory board of Thales UK, the defence and technology company. He is Chairman of Neuro-Bio Ltd, a UK company doing ground-breaking research in the field of Alzeheimer’s Disease. James also serves as Non-Executive Director of Gusbourne Estates. Started in 2004, its wine is growing into a globally recognised brand. In September 2015 James Arbuthnot joined Lord Carlile CBE, QC and Sir John Scarlett KCMG, OBE (former head of SIS/MI6) first as an advisor, then as a Director, of SC Strategy Ltd. in September 2015. From 2017 James joined the Advisory Board of IRM Ltd, a Cheltenham-based cyber security company.

James has a son and three daughters. His wife Emma is the Senior District Judge (Magistrates' Courts) - or Chief Magistrate - of England and Wales.

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Current politics. Having been a minister in different departments of the UK government (a whip, pensions minister and defence procurement minister), Lord Arbuthnot has a broad experience of how government works both in the UK and internationally. And having been Chief Whip and Chairman of a Select Committee (Defence), and sitting currently in the Lords, he keeps up to date with all the many changes and pressures, explaining things which to most outsiders would seem utterly incomprehensible.

Defence issues in general. As a Senior Associate Fellow (on the Advisory Board) of RUSI, the oldest Defence Think Tank in the world, and chairman of the Advisory Board of the UK part of a major defence company, Lord Arbuthnot maintains an immediate international defence currency which is helpful to all types of defence audiences and many industrial, government and think-tank audiences. He specialises particularly in the area of cyber risk and vulnerability of the Critical National Infrastructure, but other areas of defence are also of great interest to him.

Cyber Security Issues and Vulnerabilities relating to critical national infrastructure, especially electricity. His cyber thesis is:

  1. Hostile organisations have mapped our CNI
  2. This brings the CNI into the front line, with existential risk caused by our new reliance on technology and the potential absence of electricity
  3. The people are not aware of their role on the front line role
  4. We need to introduce training and resilience throughout society.

How to keep a political party (or any organisation) together, in the light of the role of the Whips. When Lord Arbuthnot became Chief Whip in 1997, the Conservative Party in Parliament had been halved in size, and had become smaller than the Labour Party’s majority. His task was to rebuild and maintain the morale of a shattered party, at a time when the Conservatives in Canada had been taken down to only two representatives, and to keep everyone working in a united way to return to government. These are lessons that any organisation needs to learn.

Trafalgar (as told by the great great great grandson of Vice Admiral Norwich Duff, descendant of James V, Macbeth, etc.)

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