Bunhill: Nice try, Gordon, but fat cats can't give up cream

IN THE week when Gordon Brown urged his Cabinet colleagues to set an example to the nation by exercising pay restraint, it was good to see that his message has hit home.

No sooner had he reiterated his warning that high wage rises today lead to high interest rates tomorrow than Incomes Data Services released the findings of a survey showing that Britain's top earning chief executives last year enjoyed slimline pay rises averaging 18 per cent.

This came on top of a report from William M Mercer, the consultancy, revealing that base salaries for chief executives have gone up by a low- calorie 23 per cent since 1995, against average wage inflation of 15 per cent. Executive bonuses, meanwhile, were awarded at an emaciated average rate of 56 per cent of salary last year.

Tim Melville-Ross, director-general of the Institute of Directors, defended the figures with the classic two-wrongs-make-a-right line that executives are "star performers" who stand comparison with Premier League footballers - an argument that might at least have something going for it if they had short careers and cruciate ligament injuries were rife in the boardroom.

Whatever anyone thinks, though, British directors will continue to pocket big pay rises - William M Mercer warns that executive remuneration doesn't yet match rates in the US - and they will continue to pontificate about the dangers of high interest rates, public spending packages, the national minimum wage, etc, as if their salaries were unconnected with the economy at large.

So nice try, Gordon, but give your colleagues their 16 per cent pay rise and chuck in a free mansion, Tuscan villa and private jet apiece. It will make no difference.

THE FOODIES are at it again. You might have thought it couldn't get any worse after nouvelle cuisine, detoxification diets and entreaties not to eat carbohydrates and proteins at the same time. In those dark days, you might even have considered rebelling against the diktats of the food fascists by going on hunger strike. However, it isn't over until the fat lady sings (I bet she doesn't eat bean sprouts) and news emerges that the latest craze sweeping the US is a phenomenon known as "nutraceuticals".

The term, as it implies, is a cross between nutrition and pharmaceuticals, and is used to describe foods and drinks that contain life-enhancing ingredients. One leading exponent is Yakult, the fermented milk drink, which uses a lactic acid bacterium and is claimed to help protect the digestive system against the threat of cancer. Other examples of nutraceuticals include margarines that are said to reduce cholesterol levels.

In many ways, products like these are only an extension of the labelling we see all the time on standard shopping items now that health has ravished hype. For instance, packets of Kellogg's Frosties used to bear the slogan, "They're Grrrr ... eat!"; now they say "supercharged with extra B1, Niacin and B6" - ingredients, among other things, that help release energy from carbohydrates and maintain healthy blood and skin. However, nutraceutical products make specific claims and what Kellogg's has not done is to say "Frosties makes you run faster" or "save your sofa from the scourge of dead skin with Frosties".

British organisations such as the Food and Drink Federation and the National Food Alliance see dangers in the growth of nutraceuticals, and they have teamed up with other bodies to draft a code of practice. Areas of particular concern are that health claims must be demonstrable, and that all benefits should be put in the context of an overall diet. An unacceptable slogan, says the FDF, would be "low-salt candy floss is good for the heart".

None of which may cause too much soul-searching in the US, a country with an outsize obesity problem that it combats not by abstinence but by consuming food and dietary products in equal measure. Americans, in other words, like to have their cake and eat it and this sets up a fascinating new range of nutraceuticals.

So my thanks to Rudi Lewis, in London, who suggests oysters impregnated with Viagra, and to my colleague Iain Millar who has come up with an instant hangover cure: beer spiked with headache tablets. Moving on from here we could have calcium-rich chocolate that protects your teeth against chocolate, or even cigarettes infused with expectorant. But perhaps the simplest solution is the tried and tested one: gorge yourself on double sausage, beans, three rashers, two fried eggs and two fried slices ... and offset it all with a crisp green salad.

Putting it all in perspective is the comedian Jo Brand, who once recalled the apartheid days when shoppers went through crises of conscience over whether to buy South African fruit. Personally, she said, she just skipped the fruit section altogether: "No calories, no f------ point!"

Morality tale

AMERICANS - crazy people, crazy stock market. Just ask Bill Clinton.

Among the President's many preoccupations as Monica Lewinsky goes into detail about the nature of their relationship is the drag on share prices caused by his possible impeachment. So far, though, this has been counterbalanced by the support of the US population, who give him a higher approval rating than ever.

But the honeymoon may soon be over. The latest twist, we are told, is that in standing by their man Americans are speaking not from their hearts and minds but their wallets. More than 50 per cent of the people own shares, and they are happy to proclaim that the President's private life is his own business as long as their investments perform well. If they fall too far, however, then Mr Clinton will become a villain and a vengeful public will demand he reveals all - well, nearly all. It is an odd sort of morality tale when personal integrity becomes a function of the economy, but then again the value of morals can go down as well as up.

FOR Which? read glitch. According to Campaign magazine, Which? Online has had to spend pounds 40,000 replacing CD-Roms offering internet access because it mistakenly directed visitors to a hardcore porn site. Which? should not apologise - it has always been the consumers' friend.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
News
Young Winstone: His ‘tough-guy’ image is a misconception
people
Sport
Adnan Januzaj and Gareth Bale
footballManchester United set to loan out Januzaj to make room for Bale - if a move for the Welshman firms up
Arts and Entertainment
Ellie Levenson’s The Election book demystifies politics for children
bookNew children's book primes the next generation for politics
News
Outspoken: Alexander Fury, John Rentoul, Ellen E Jones and Katy Guest
newsFrom the Scottish referendum to the Ice Bucket Challenge, our writers voice their opinions
PROMOTED VIDEO
News
i100
Sport
Yaya Sanogo, Mats Hummels, Troy Deeney and Adnan Januzaj
footballMost Premier League sides are after a striker, but here's a full run down of the ins and outs that could happen over the next month
News
Nigel Farage celebrates with a pint after early local election results in the Hoy and Helmet pub in South Benfleet in Essex
peopleHe has shaped British politics 'for good or ill'
Arts and Entertainment
Pharrell Williams' “Happy” was the most searched-for song lyric of 2014
musicThe power of song never greater, according to our internet searches
Sport
Tim Sherwood raises his hand after the 1-0 victory over Stoke
footballFormer Tottenham boss leads list of candidates to replace Neil Warnock
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
Voices
Strictly Come Dancing was watched by 6.9m viewers
voicesIt has been hard to form generally accepted cultural standards since the middle of the 19th century – and the disintegration is only going to accelerate, says DJ Taylor
Arts and Entertainment
Roffey says: 'All of us carry shame and taboo around about our sexuality. But I was determined not to let shame stop me writing my memoir.'
books
News
Danielle George is both science professor and presenter
people
News
i100
News
Caplan says of Jacobs: 'She is a very collaborative director, and gives actors a lot of freedom. She makes things happen.'
people
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

Selby Jennings: VP/SVP Credit Quant- NY- Investment Bank

Not specified: Selby Jennings: VP/SVP Credit Quant Top tier investment bank i...

Selby Jennings: Quantitative Research | Equity | New York

Not specified: Selby Jennings: Quantitative Research | Global Equity | New Yor...

Selby Jennings: SVP Model Validation

Not specified: Selby Jennings: SVP Model Validation This top tiered investment...

Selby Jennings: Oil Operations

Highly Competitive: Selby Jennings: Our client, a leading European Oil trading...

Day In a Page

War with Isis: The West needs more than a White Knight

The West needs more than a White Knight

Despite billions spent on weapons, the US has not been able to counter Isis's gruesome tactics, says Patrick Cockburn
Return to Helmand: Private Davey Graham recalls the day he was shot by the Taliban

'The day I was shot by the Taliban'

Private Davey Graham was shot five times during an ambush in 2007 - it was the first, controversial photograph to show the dangers our soldiers faced in Helmand province
Revealed: the best and worst airlines for delays

Revealed: the best and worst airlines for delays

Many flyers are failing to claim compensation to which they are entitled, a new survey has found
The stories that defined 2014: From the Scottish independence referendum to the Ice Bucket Challenge, our writers voice their opinions

The stories that defined 2014

From the Scottish independence referendum to the Ice Bucket Challenge, our writers voice their opinions
Stoke-on-Trent becomes first British city to be classified as 'disaster resilient' by the United Nations

Disaster looming? Now you know where to head...

Which British city has become the first to be awarded special 'resilience' status by the UN?
Finally, a diet that works: Californian pastor's wildly popular Daniel Plan has seen his congregation greatly reduced

Finally, a diet that works

Californian pastor's wildly popular Daniel Plan has seen his congregation greatly reduced
Say it with... lyrics: The power of song was never greater, according to our internet searches

Say it with... lyrics

The power of song was never greater, according to our internet searches
Professor Danielle George: On a mission to bring back the art of 'thinkering'

The joys of 'thinkering'

Professor Danielle George on why we have to nurture tomorrow's scientists today
Monique Roffey: The author on father figures, the nation's narcissism and New Year reflections

Monique Roffey interview

The author on father figures, the nation's narcissism and New Year reflections
Introducing my anti-heroes of 2014

Introducing my anti-heroes of 2014

Their outrageousness and originality makes the world a bit more interesting, says Ellen E Jones
DJ Taylor: Good taste? It's all a matter of timing...

Good taste? It's all a matter of timing...

It has been hard to form generally accepted cultural standards since the middle of the 19th century – and the disintegration is only going to accelerate, says DJ Taylor
Olivia Jacobs & Ben Caplan: 'Ben thought the play was called 'Christian Love'. It was 'Christie in Love' - about a necrophiliac serial killer'

How we met

Olivia Jacobs and Ben Caplan
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's breakfasts will revitalise you in time for the New Year

Bill Granger's healthy breakfasts

Our chef's healthy recipes are perfect if you've overindulged during the festive season
Transfer guide: From Arsenal to West Ham - what does your club need in the January transfer window?

Who does your club need in the transfer window?

Most Premier League sides are after a striker, but here's a full run down of the ins and outs that could happen over the next month
The Last Word: From aliens at FA to yak’s milk in the Tour, here’s to 2015

Michael Calvin's Last Word

From aliens at FA to yak’s milk in the Tour, here’s to 2015