Richard Ingrams' Week: The strange morality of this Christian tycoon

Share

Philip Anschutz's company AEG has been caught out making a false submission posted on the Culture Ministry's website, claiming that local religious leaders in Greenwich are all in favour of a mammoth casino inside the Millennium Dome.

Quite apart from any allegations of deception, the move must be especially embarrassing for Mr Anschutz, a man who has made no secret of his strong religious faith and his campaign to promote moral values in today's society.

While amassing a huge fortune out of oil and gas, Mr Anschutz is reported to be especially proud of his recent investment in the film of C S Lewis's The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. "I expect my films," he said, "to be life-affirming and to carry moral messages."

Fortunately for Mr Anschutz, his film, which was shown all over the world, was not only life-affirming but also made him a massive profit.

Given his concern with promoting morality, Mr Anschutz would presumably disapprove of any deliberate distortion of the views of Greenwich's religious leaders.

Again, as a Christian he might also sympathise with those leaders' view of gambling as a dangerous, possibly habit-forming pastime that can ruin the lives of individuals and families. Is it possible for a huge casino to be life-affirming and carry moral messages just like his film?

Mr Anschutz is unlikely to give us an answer. Like another multimillionaire movie promoter, Howard Hughes, he is a reclusive individual who seldom talks to the press and who destroys all his e-mails and diaries. He will certainly not be coming to London to answer questions about his intentions, let alone his religious beliefs.

Don't write off junk mail

The Daily Mail has been conducting one of its vociferous front-page campaigns, this time against the growth of junk mail which, according to the paper, is threatening the lives of all of us. As the editor of a small-circulation magazine, which finds it hard to get on to the news-stand, my future depends largely on the business of selling subscriptions through the post - junk mail, in other words. So I have a personal interest in this field.

But there is a bogus hysteria about the paper's anti-junk mail campaign which ought to make everyone sceptical. Just as racists talk about the flood of immigrants and asylum-seekers swamping the country, the Mail describes a "daily cascade" or alternatively a "mountain" with the whole country being "driven to distraction" - all this about a few envelopes being shoved through the letter box.

I would argue that at a time when the future of the Post Office is threatened by the growth of e-mails, it is only junk mail that is keeping the show on the road, in many cases forcing postmen to make deliveries to remote houses which otherwise would be struck off the list. And who is to decide exactly what constitutes junk mail? It might consist of important government notices, appeals from charities, enticing catalogues - not to mention subscription offers from fascinating small-circulation magazines.

It is quite wrong that all this should be given the blanket description of junk mail, though it could be perhaps an appropriate description of the newspaper spearheading the campaign.

* Carlton TV's former PR man David Cameron is no stranger to the fending off of awkward questions from the press. Journalists who dealt with him in his earlier career remember a particularly skilled master in the art of spin. In his new position Cameron will require all his skills. His actions will be subjected to minute scrutiny.

Thus, as a member of the posh men-only St James' club White's, he found himself facing the charge of hypocrisy. On the one hand he was urging his party to select more women candidates for Parliament. On the other he was a member of an all-male club.

PR man Cameron's response was a good one. He belonged to the club, his spokesman said, only because it was a convenient place to meet up with his elderly father who happens to be the club's chairman. But unfortunately, as reported in this paper, Cameron was later spotted dining with his colleague and fellow Old Etonian Ed Llewellyn. There was no sign of the elderly club chairman Cameron Senior.

This is not the first time a Tory leader has found himself in this awkward situation. The charge of hypocrisy in the matter of clubs was also levelled against one of Cameron's predecessors Iain Duncan Smith. In 2001 IDS publicly boasted of the fact that he had refused to join the Carlton Club because it refused admission to women. But it was then revealed that he remained a member of the exclusive Beefsteak Club which was just as discriminating as the Carlton. Luckily for IDS The Daily Telegraph came to his defence, commending the Tory leader for his reforming zeal and for maintaining "the proper distance between the private and public spheres".

Cameron might like to remember this the next time he is charged with humbug.

React Now

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

Guru Careers: Trainer / IT Trainer

£30 to £32k : Guru Careers: We are seeking a Trainer / IT Trainer to join an a...

Recruitment Genius: Fence Installer - Commercial

£25000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This privately owned Fencing Co...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Executive - OTE £22,000

£17000 - £22000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: If you answer yes, this company...

Recruitment Genius: Project / Account Manager and IT Support

£18000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This world leader in Online Pro...

Day In a Page

Read Next
From left: Yvette Cooper, Jeremy Corbyn, Liz Kendall and Andy Burnham at a televised Labour leadership debate  

Jeremy Corbyn wouldn't be so far ahead in the Labour leadership race if his rivals weren't so awful

Ash Burt
 

Giving children 'iRights' to delete what they put online sends the wrong moral message

Joe Rivers
Mullah Omar, creator of the Taliban, is dead... for the fourth time

Mullah Omar, creator of the Taliban, is dead... again

I was once told that intelligence services declare their enemies dead to provoke them into popping up their heads and revealing their location, says Robert Fisk
Margaret Attwood on climate change: 'Time is running out for our fragile, Goldilocks planet'

Margaret Attwood on climate change

The author looks back on what she wrote about oil in 2009, and reflects on how the conversation has changed in a mere six years
New Dr Seuss manuscript discovered: What Pet Should I Get? goes on sale this week

New Dr Seuss manuscript discovered

What Pet Should I Get? goes on sale this week
Oculus Rift and the lonely cartoon hedgehog who could become the first ever virtual reality movie star

The cartoon hedgehog leading the way into a whole new reality

Virtual reality is the 'next chapter' of entertainment. Tim Walker gives it a try
Ants have unique ability to switch between individual and collective action, says study

Secrets of ants' teamwork revealed

The insects have an almost unique ability to switch between individual and collective action
Donovan interview: The singer is releasing a greatest hits album to mark his 50th year in folk

Donovan marks his 50th year in folk

The singer tells Nick Duerden about receiving death threats, why the world is 'mentally ill', and how he can write a song about anything, from ecology to crumpets
Let's Race simulator: Ultra-realistic technology recreates thrill of the Formula One circuit

Simulator recreates thrill of F1 circuit

Rory Buckeridge gets behind the wheel and explains how it works
Twitter accused of 'Facebookisation' over plans to overhaul reverse-chronological timeline

Twitter accused of 'Facebookisation'

Facebook exasperates its users by deciding which posts they can and can’t see. So why has Twitter announced plans to do the same?
Jane Birkin asks Hermès to rename bag - but what else could the fashion house call it?

Jane Birkin asks Hermès to rename bag

The star was shocked by a Peta investigation into the exotic skins trade
10 best waterproof mascaras

Whatever the weather: 10 best waterproof mascaras

We found lash-enhancing beauties that won’t budge no matter what you throw at them
Diego Costa biography: Chelsea striker's route to the top - from those who shared his journey

Diego Costa: I go to war. You come with me...

Chelsea's rampaging striker had to fight his way from a poor city in Brazil to life at the top of the Premier League. A new book speaks to those who shared his journey
Ashes 2015: England show the mettle to strike back hard in third Test

England show the mettle to strike back hard in third Test

The biggest problem facing them in Birmingham was the recovery of the zeitgeist that drained so quickly under the weight of Australian runs at Lord's, says Kevin Garside
Women's Open 2015: Charley Hull - 'I know I'm a good golfer but I'm also just a person'

Charley Hull: 'I know I'm a good golfer but I'm also just a person'

British teen keeps her feet on ground ahead of Women's Open
Turkey's conflict with Kurdish guerrillas in Iraq can benefit Isis in Syria

Turkey's conflict with Kurdish guerrillas in Iraq can benefit Isis in Syria

Turkish President Erdogan could benefit politically from the targeting of the PKK, says Patrick Cockburn
Yvette Cooper: Our choice is years of Tory rule under Jeremy Corbyn or a return to a Labour government

Our choice is years of Tory rule under Corbyn or a return to a Labour government

Yvette Cooper urged Labour members to 'get serious' about the next general election rather than become 'a protest movement'