Made in Knightsbridge: Are all these flash cars the sign of an economy in trouble?

The true state of our economy is being masked by the influx of cash from a breed of mega-rich whose spending habits bear little relation to sense and reason

Click to follow
The Independent Online

Two things happened in quick succession the other day which made me feel like I lived in a country which had taken leave of its senses. First, on my way to the Tube station, I came across a car that was so preposterous it made me laugh out loud. It was a black velvet Ferrari. Yes, that's right, velvet. I stopped to take a picture and immediately tweeted it out (it has subsequently had more than 130 retweets). As I was doing so, a taxi driver leaned out of his window and shouted: "Only in Knightsbridge".

It's true that this quarter of London attracts the mega-rich and their ridiculous motor cars (of which more later), but this was something else. And then I got to work to receive an email from a friend of mine who knew that I was on the lookout for tickets to Sunday's Manchester derby. He forwarded a missive from a ticket agency which was offering seats for the match at £375 plus VAT each. Yes, that's right, more than 400 quid to watch 90 minutes of football. Now, you could argue that to see Manchester United get beaten is in fact priceless, but who would pay this exorbitant sum for a match of interest but relatively little consequence, and which is to be broadcast live on TV?

Probably, someone who drives around in a velvet Ferrari. Or a McLaren P1. I saw one of those parked on the street last week. This is a car that retails at £866,000 and is so precious that it is followed everywhere by a man in a Mercedes who guards it. George Osborne proclaims that there are "tentative signs of a balanced, broad-based and sustainable recovery" but could it be that the true state of our economy is being masked by the influx of cash from a breed of mega-rich whose spending habits bear little relation to sense and reason.

Away from a tiny part of the country where the influx foreign money - largely Middle Eastern and Russian - is inflating house prices and driving consumption, people are still having a pretty hard time. You won't see a velvet Ferrari in Barnsley or Bideford. The cavalcade of exotic motor cars in  London's most prosperous neighbourhood is largely a seasonal thing - the weeks before and after Ramadan turn the streets around Harrods into a four-wheeled catwalk - but the disparity between the uber-wealthy and the rest of us has never been greater, and is very unhealthy for society.

There is an awful lot of resistance to people coming to Britain from abroad with skills and a work ethic, but we don't hear anything about those who come with money, even though their massive spending represents a form of quantitative easing that creates a property bubble and causes inflation that inflicts hardship on those who don't drive around in Ferraris.

Not Alright

"Cameron: The Yids are alright by me". So read the splash headline in Metro on a story about the PM wading into the row about whether Tottenham fans should be allowed to use this racist epithet. As a Jew, I was offended by this headline. Everyone knows "alright" is an abomination. It should be all right.