Richard Ingrams: It's galling when the rich tell us to tighten our belts


Related Topics

Every one of us is going to experience pain, say Cameron and Osborne as they prepare us for severe measures to reduce the Government's huge deficit.

But the one thing you can be sure of is that, while others may lose money, people like Cameron and Osborne will feel scarcely any pain, for the simple reason that they are very rich. And rich people actually quite like to be told that they are going to have to make sacrifices. As Malcolm Muggeridge once wrote: "There is nothing that gives the well-to-do greater satisfaction than to be asked to economise for the good of their country. The money saved gratifies their avarice, the fact that in saving they are performing a public service adds a glow of self-righteousness."

Cameron's warning was echoed this week by another very rich man, Prince Charles. Preaching one of his regular secular sermons, he referred to what he called "a deep inner crisis of the soul", which was blighting the planet along with the fact that there are too many people in the world. "It would also help," he added, "if the world reduced its desire to consume."

Another message that the rich will like to hear, particularly coming from Prince Charles, a man with a very conspicuous desire to consume as much as possible with the help and support of a small army of butlers, valets and chauffeurs.

The Rusty Flasher gets a companion

a leader in The Times this week refers to Antony Gormley's 66ft-high statue Angel of the North near Gateshead as "haunting". But this is not the right word to use. The statue, about as unlike an angel as you could imagine, is traditionally described as "iconic" – a word now used for anything that is thought to be a much-loved element of the British way of life, like the Queen or fish and chips.

In fact, Angel of the North, which bears a strong resemblance to a 1930s Nazi monument commemorating the Luftwaffe, is not much loved by the local Geordies, who have dubbed it the Rusty Flasher.

Not to be deterred, Gormley has now produced a sculpture even bigger than the Rusty Flasher. With a height of 84ft and weighing 60 tons, it represents a crouching man and is constructed out of 8,500 lengths of metal. Luckily for us it will be erected not in Britain but the Netherlands, where it won a competition five years ago. Possibly influenced by the Rusty Flasher nickname, Gormley has christened his new work Exposure. It remains to be seen whether the Dutch will see the joke. They will certainly find it hard to avoid seeing the statue.

Both cuddly and a pest. Could that be Boris?

"The influence of early books is profound," Graham Greene once wrote. Apart from anything else, they determine one's attitudes towards various animals – attitudes which are afterwards almost impossible to eradicate.

My view of the fox, for example, which has never changed, goes back to the nursery and the books of Beatrix Potter, to Mr Tod the "whiskery gentleman" who preys on Jemima Puddleduck and likes to cook baby bunnies in his oven. And the same goes for his associate Tommy Brock the badger, likewise a ruthless smelly ruffian – by no means the lovable furry fellow that children nowadays are encouraged to warm towards.

Mr Tod's image took a knock this week with the frightening story of twin babies being savaged in their London home by an urban fox. While the friends of the fox hastened to reassure the public that this was a very rare occurrence, yet another story came to light of a similar attack on a child in Belsize Park.

How to reconcile these stories with the general perception of the fox as a friendly bushy-tailed creature, an essential element of Britain's varied wildlife?

The Conservative mayor Boris Johnson told Londoners that "romantic and cuddly as the fox is, it is also a pest". But how could one animal be cuddly and at the same time a pest? Perhaps Boris was subconsciously thinking of himself – superficially a cuddly mop-headed teddy bear but deep down a bit of a four-letter fellow, as the late Denis Thatcher might have put it.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Senior Marketing Manager - Central London - £50,000

£40000 - £50000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager (Campaigns, Offlin...

Head of Marketing - Acquisition & Direct Reponse Marketing

£90000 - £135000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Head of Marketing (B2C, Acquisition...

1st Line Service Desk Analyst

£27000 - £30000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client who are...

Trainee Recruitment Consultant - Birmingham - Huxley Associates

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Commission: SThree: Huxley Associates are currentl...

Day In a Page

Read Next
Norovirus the food poisoning bug that causes violent stomach flu  

A flu pandemic could decide next year’s election

Matthew Norman
J. Jayalalithaa gestures to her party supporters while standing on the balcony of her residence in Chennai. Former film star Jayalalithaa Jayaram is one of India's most colourful and controversial politicians  

The jailing of former film star Jayalalithaa Jayaram is a drama even Bollywood couldn’t produce

Andrew Buncombe
Isis is an hour from Baghdad, the Iraq army has little chance against it, and air strikes won't help

Isis an hour away from Baghdad -

and with no sign of Iraq army being able to make a successful counter-attack
Turner Prize 2014 is frustratingly timid

Turner Prize 2014 is frustratingly timid

The exhibition nods to rich and potentially brilliant ideas, but steps back
Last chance to see: Half the world’s animals have disappeared over the last 40 years

Last chance to see...

The Earth’s animal wildlife population has halved in 40 years
So here's why teenagers are always grumpy - and it's not what you think

Truth behind teens' grumpiness

Early school hours mess with their biological clocks
Why can no one stop hackers putting celebrities' private photos online?

Hacked photos: the third wave

Why can no one stop hackers putting celebrities' private photos online?
Royal Ballet star dubbed 'Charlize Theron in pointe shoes' takes on Manon

Homegrown ballerina is on the rise

Royal Ballet star Melissa Hamilton is about to tackle the role of Manon
Education, eduction, education? Our growing fascination with what really goes on in school

Education, education, education

TV documentaries filmed in classrooms are now a genre in their own right
It’s reasonable to negotiate with the likes of Isis, so why don’t we do it and save lives?

It’s perfectly reasonable to negotiate with villains like Isis

So why don’t we do it and save some lives?
This man just ran a marathon in under 2 hours 3 minutes. Is a 2-hour race in sight?

Is a sub-2-hour race now within sight?

Dennis Kimetto breaks marathon record
We shall not be moved, say Stratford's single parents fighting eviction

Inside the E15 'occupation'

We shall not be moved, say Stratford single parents
Air strikes alone will fail to stop Isis

Air strikes alone will fail to stop Isis

Talks between all touched by the crisis in Syria and Iraq can achieve as much as the Tornadoes, says Patrick Cockburn
Nadhim Zahawi: From a refugee on welfare to the heart of No 10

Nadhim Zahawi: From a refugee on welfare to the heart of No 10

The Tory MP speaks for the first time about the devastating effect of his father's bankruptcy
Witches: A history of misogyny

Witches: A history of misogyny

The sexist abuse that haunts modern life is nothing new: women have been 'trolled' in art for 500 years
Shona Rhimes interview: Meet the most powerful woman in US television

Meet the most powerful woman in US television

Writer and producer of shows like Grey's Anatomy, Shonda Rhimes now has her own evening of primetime TV – but she’s taking it in her stride
'Before They Pass Away': Endangered communities photographed 'like Kate Moss'

Endangered communities photographed 'like Kate Moss'

Jimmy Nelson travelled the world to photograph 35 threatened tribes in an unashamedly glamorous style