Do we now like elites?


               I am full of admiration for the skill and determination of Team GB’s Olympic competitors. I am delighted for them, and share the nation’s joy at their success.

                 As someone who had a wasted youth from the sports point of view, I admire those who chose to spend their young hours training, training, and training some more. In my youth I read too many books and was too studious, as I sought to become an elite academic. It stopped me, or gave me the excuse, from turning out in all weathers to try to run faster or jump higher.

                 What I find most encouraging is the public reaction.  I  like my country and usually agree with my fellow countrymen and women about many things. I do not, however, like the politics of envy which can be a feature of UK life.  There are politicians and sometimes whole political parties, who specialise in attacking those who work hard and achieve things. There is a strong strand of political thought hostile to people concentrating on winning , and hostile to success itself. The politicians and tabloid newspapers sometimes  feed off negative  emotions in the wider public.

                Maybe it is understandable that elite footballers, who earn such large sums for their skills, have to live in a gold fish bowl, with their lives automatically made part of some national soap opera that calls into question their marriages, their love affairs, their leisure activites and their general conduct.  When a whole sector of the economy, like banking, is vilified because some at the top behaved badly, or because the last government foolishly subsidised them, we need to ask if the politics of envy is starting to attack too many of the  wrong people.

             The Olympics has allowed people to celebrate hard work and competitive success. It is not just athletes who do that. Some in business or public service work hard, put in the extra effort, strive to be the best. They do not receive gold medals. Let us hope that the public enthusiasm for being the best, and understanding how much effort is involved in achieving that, rubs off. Let us extend those principles more widely. If the UK can be the third most successful nation in Olympic sports, depsite having a much smaller population than several other competitor countries, can’t we show the same determination and achieve the same success as an industrial and service sector nation in the markets of the world?

      If we are not jealous or censorious of elite athletes competing hard, and becoming rich and famous as a result, can we overcome some of the collective jealousy of others who chose a different route to fame or riches?



  1. Nina Andreeva
    August 14, 2012

    Over a £150 million per medal to put the country on a par with the likes of China and South Korea? Does anyone here actually feel “better” and “united” as the press claims or are they just proving Gramsci’s theories correct? It cannot be too long before the papers contain a story about one our black athletes being stopped by the police in his Merc that they thought did not belong to him/he was on his way to a drug deal etc

    1. outsider
      August 14, 2012

      “Does anyone here actually feel ‘better’ and ‘united’ as the press claims?” Yes.

      1. waramess
        August 14, 2012

        Well one happy person is better than none I suppose, particularly as this massive waste of resources cost each average family around £1250 for the privilege.

        Not a question of voting for it either; like it or hate it each family had the amount taken from it by force and, on top of that had to pay the entrance if they wanteed to attend.

        Oh, of course a killjoy but then how many would have given such a sum voluntarily?

        And then there is the legacy of trying to push schools into providing more sports facilities for children and forcing children to participate. Where is the sense?

        If you want kids to stop growing fat stop feeding them hydrogenised fat in everything, even this will result in a problem of getting rid of animal fats.

        Let those who want to support such fine spectacles pay for them and leave the rest of us to spend our money on other things

        1. Iain Gill
          August 14, 2012


        2. lifelogic
          August 14, 2012

          Indeed let the people who want sport pay for it themselves. Just as I pay for my books, walking boots and MP3s.

      2. lifelogic
        August 14, 2012

        Perhaps but will they still feel like that as they start to pay off the £10Bn plus interest for years to come – in higher taxes, fewer jobs and less growth?

  2. Robert K
    August 14, 2012

    Instibutionalised jealousy has been the biggest menace to Britain at least since the Second World War. Its most insidious recent incarnation is the Equalities Bill. In any field, progress is achieved through elite performance. By definition, the elite cannot be equal with the majority. Therefore, if you strive for equality you defeat progress.
    I admire those who can raise their game to the elite level in whatever field, whether sport, academe or commercial enterprise and am happy to see them rewarded or feted.

  3. lifelogic
    August 14, 2012

    Can we overcome some of the collective jealousy of others who chose a different route to fame or riches?

    Well the political parties Labour, LibDems and even Tories now and of course the BBC and silly BBC think books like “The Spirit Level” just love to push this agenda to garner votes and attack success. Sweden is the favourite example of the BBC to push this “all will be equal agenda” – hardly a good comparison for endless reasons. Needless to say all will be equal will never apply to state sector/BBC pensions which are about 10 time larger the the private sector who have to pay them or their nearly 500 personal service companies.

    What is however rather common, as a method of gaining financial advantage (often from tax payers money) is the distortion of laws for personal sectional advantage or lobbying for this. We see this at EU and UK level so often on the green religion, and in banking, credit reference systems, intellectual property rights, charities and the over regulation in general.

    I am certainly annoyed, though not jealous, when I see second rate (say one thing do another career politicians) so well rewarded in politics when the honourable ones are so often ignored or kicked out. Million pound pensions and special allowances for a few years of “service” and a place in the Lords/EU too very often. Rewards for handing powers away to the EU very often too.

    People should indeed object, very strongly, to huge remuneration for Directors who have simply driven their companies into the ground while helping themselves to huge salaries and bonuses – as we have seen again and again. Employment laws are very poor and shareholder control is far too weak here.

    I do not think many object to sport stars, J K Rowling or even the actors of Harry Potter or James Dyson or even the body gyrating, teen pop stars becoming rich. Nor do they object to people who win the lottery (who clearly have not even earned their luck – but just been daft enough to buy a lottery ticket).

    They might reasonably object to Michael Martin, Tony Blair, John Major, Fred Goodwin, Chris Huhne, John Bercow, Lord Patten types perhaps. Rewarding people well for doing very great harm is unlikely ever to be viewed well by the public.

    A sensible non pushing of “the politics of envy” type BBC would be a very good start. But “the politics of envy” is all the left have, in the main, to garner their votes.

    1. lifelogic
      August 14, 2012

      I see the BoE is wrong on inflation again as RPI rises to 3.2%. So government policy of QE & tax borrow and waste is doing exactly as one would expected – no growth and a devaluing currency robbing pensioners and savers. Rail fares to rise even more than inflation I note 6.2% – hardly worth going to work for many.

      1. zorro
        August 14, 2012

        Remember though that we are coming up to September so they need to ensure that RPI is high so that they can put up housing costs for people who live in shared ownership on the rented portion (people who have a job but have bought a portion of their flat/house) and then doubtless give some of that money which is recouped to the feckless so that their benefits are uprated in line with RPI……or am I being cynical.


        1. zorro
          August 14, 2012

          I don’t think that it is QE (yet) which is causing the spike as so little, if any, is making itself known in the real economy. It is probably wasteful or silly government spending which is encouraging some companies to charge them more, after public spending is a huge part of the economy.


    2. lifelogic
      August 14, 2012

      Also as expected under the absurd EU socialist super state, mismanagement:

      GDP fell by 0.2% in both the euro area (EA17) and the EU27
      during the second quarter of 2012, compared with the previous quarter, according to flash estimates published by Eurostat.

      1. Single Acts
        August 14, 2012

        Singapore by contrast had a Per Capita GDP of $63,000, which as of 2011 grew at 4.9% and adult literacy over 96%. The UK’s GDP per capita is only $36,000 and rates about half way down the OECD league tables for literacy in developed countries.

        Will we ever get anywhere near these figures? Is there even the aspiration?

        So we must ask why are we not only being beaten but being absolutely annihilated by a country that didn’t get any gold medals?

        1. lifelogic
          August 14, 2012

          Certainly not much aspiration from Cameron’s ever bigger state, happiness index, all will be equal – but taxed into the ground (apart from the powers that be who clearly know best) government.

          Amusing to listen to the dreadful speaker of the commons trying pathetically to defend himself on radio 4 at lunchtime. Apparently people either hate him or think he is wonderful. Who on earth thinks the latter – his wife perhaps?

          1. lifelogic
            August 14, 2012

            From the telegraph:

            Mr Bercow’s retirement package, one of the most generous in the country, will pay him the equivalent of half his salary throughout his life, whenever he retires.
            It is currently worth about £40,000 a year. A similar pension would cost more than £2million to fund privately.
            Mr Bercow does not have to make any contributions to the scheme. He is entitled to an additional MP’s pension, which requires contributions, although it is not known if he has accepted this option.
            A senior Tory MP said: “Mr Bercow’s behaviour is a disgrace. Everyone else realises that if we are asking the public sector to contribute more for their pensions, then so should we.”

            Also senior might also have added – what about the 80% in the private sector who have pay all this – many have no pension whatsoever. Also in the private sector they are limited to £1.5M pension even from their own funds if they have them to save.

            Still we are all in it together are we not?

            Reply: Even at current poor rates I think your capital value for a £40,000 a year pension is high, though the age of retirement would of course have a material impact on the true cost.

          2. zorro
            August 14, 2012

            Ah but lifelogic Cast Elastic must be salivating a the possible increases to his happiness index because of Olympic glory……We are becoming like East Germany, more socialism and medals!


          3. lifelogic
            August 14, 2012

            He could retire on it now at 49 inflation linked (RPI I think) and QE has made annuities very expensive plus his MP’s one on top!
            It is the figure quoted in the telegraph but is not far out I suspect. Perhaps forty + odd years of £40K PA increasing with inflation at 3.2%?

        2. Caterpillar
          August 14, 2012

          At least in 2008 (I haven’t seen more recnt data) London was above Singapore in the league table of cities by GDP per capita. Some US cities were higher. There is strong evidence of a – large dense cities in developed countries giving economic advantage – effect.

          There has been a very small glimmer of ambition in the UK to enable this with the idea of linking some exisiting cities by High Speed train, relaxing planning regs and perhaps developing the airports in these linked cities. Unfortunately the UK doesn’t actually seem to have the real ambition to do this (nor to add population), but would prefer not to link, develop only one airport and connect broadband to single cottages in the middle of nowhere. It should be an easy area for Govt to enable, but it hasn’t managed it; it even failed to persuade people to back mayors.

  4. David
    August 14, 2012

    Why is choosing and then supporting the best at sport OK, but when it comes to educating our children, no selection (other than through parents deciding to pay or by buying a house near a good state school) is allowed? I write this as someone who benefited immensely from a grammar school education, now denied to the majority of children in the UK.

    1. Tad Davison
      August 14, 2012

      Me too David, but there are those who find it completely abhorrent that some kids are brighter than others and would artificially bar their progress to satisfy some lunatic-fringe left-wing ideology.

      I have three kids. All are exceptionally bright. All could read and write before they started school, thanks to the time my wife and I devoted to them. When my youngest daughter started school, she was put in a class where some of her contemporaries weren’t even potty trained. She was merely given a book to read, and told to amuse herself whilst the others caught up. Needless to say, she was quickly moved to a different school where her abilities were given the freedom they deserved.

      She really ought to have been given specialist education at her original school, but that would have singled her and a few others out as an elite, and that would never do for this crazy ‘one size fits all’ system we presently have.

      It also seems to extend to the criminal classes. In the natural order of things, goodness and industry is rewarded, and wickedness chastised, yet the biggest scumbags seem to have an army of do-gooders falling over themselves to help them, when those decent kids who can collectively become the nation’s biggest asset, are frequently ignored, again for seemingly ideological reasons.

      I believe I benefitted from a grammar school education despite the predictable jibes of snobbery from a poorly-educated and jealous minority. I believe others could benefit from a system that streams gifted kids into classes where learning is the order of the day, and where discipline and a work ethic actually means something. It is ultimately beneficial for the nation to improve standards overall, but still cater for anyone who shows outstanding ability. Left-wing education policies have failed us badly. We have slipped down the league tables in terms of excellence, and that needs to be put right. If it means catering for an elite, I’m all for it. An elite often translates to cutting edge, and without that, we never will make progress. I just draw the line at so-called celebrities who offer very little to humanity generally.

      Tad Davison


      1. Iain Gill
        August 14, 2012

        nice to have the power to change your childs school, most of us dont have that freedom and are stuck with the school, GP, hospital and so on the state imposes upon us

      2. Bob
        August 14, 2012

        The Tories have abandoned grammar schools, and are now working on the destruction of university education, by changing selection criteria from an exam based system to one that places more emphasis on the applicants eligibility for free school meals. I expect Les Ebdon’s efforts will produce a similar effect on social mobility as the comprehensive school system did.

      3. uanime5
        August 14, 2012

        The problem with special schools for bright children is that wealthier families find it easier to get their children into them because they can hire private tutors. So rather than be schools for the brightest, they become schools for the privileged.

        Grammar schools were closed down precisely because they became schools for the middle class, rather than the bright.

        1. Alan Wheatley
          August 15, 2012

          Alternatively, the brightest kids come from the middle class!

          1. Iain Gill
            August 15, 2012

            absolute nonsense

      4. zorro
        August 14, 2012

        The socialist, PC lot always need lots of money to spend on the undeserving. Why would they spend it on those that will be successful? They would soon lose tgheir source of funding. Turkeys do not vote for Xmas!


    2. Mike Stallard
      August 14, 2012

      The tide has changed…….
      Watch for improvements.

  5. Brian Tomkinson
    August 14, 2012

    JR: “Do we now like elites?”
    Not while we have the BBC, the Guardian, the Daily Mirror, the Labour Party, the Liberal Democrats, the unions ……..

  6. Mike Stallard
    August 14, 2012

    The BBC witters endlessly about the Olympic Legacy. Did you hear the ghastly Newsnight last night when poor old Mr Hunt was constantly asked by Gavin Essler negative questions —“Yes but what about the schools…”

    I reckon this post is spot on.
    Well said.

    The Olympic legacy – well worth a sum which has somehow crept from £3.7 billion to 10 billion – is intellectual. We need to be proud of who we are. We are superb politicians, superb organisers and world beaters.

    1. zorro
      August 14, 2012

      Yes I hear about it (legacy) a lot. It seems to have been going on for a long time, a mantra of sorts. I am also waiting for the inevitable ‘lessons learned’ clarion call (G4S?)…..


  7. Pete the Bike
    August 14, 2012

    But jealousy is the stock in trade of politics. It always seeks to set one section of society against another to gain votes. Alex Salmond seeks to set Scots against English, Labour attempts to set workers against management or non workers against everyone, governments starts spurious wars against people in far away lands that offer no threat to us, taxes steal from one group to benefit another.

    Divide and rule has always been the preferred method of the elites.

    It still is.

    1. Bob
      August 14, 2012

      @Pete the Bike

      If you have an hour to spare (or even if you don’t) I recommend watching “G. Edward Griffin The Collectivist Conspiracy”
      on YouTube.

      He blows open the whole fallacy of left/right politics.
      They are in fact all the same.

      He also exposes the difference between businesses who make money by competing and providing value for money, and business that make money through monopolisation and political manipulation.

      It’s well worth watching.

      We’ve been conned – but it’s not too late to turn things around as long as people wake up to the three card trick that the LibLabCon Party have been playing on us for all these years..

  8. oldtimer
    August 14, 2012

    All good points. No doubt successful Olympians have a good chance of becoming rich provided they receive the right advice on how to navigate the tax system to reduce the tax deducted from their income. Alternatively they could relocate abroad like some other very high earners, such as successful F1 Grand Prix drivers. I heard Usain Bolt give an interview saying that he would like to compete more in the UK, but the tax take was too high to make it worthwhile. It sums up the problem. Personal tax rates are much too high. They are disincentives to effort for too many people whatever their occupation – unless they have the means to escape the clutches of the tax man. Yet those high tax rates are the prevailing group think at the top of the three main political parties.

    1. alan jutson
      August 14, 2012


      Yes I heard the same interview with Mr Bolt, and I have to say was surprised he made such a comment, but comment he made, and who can blame him.
      His time as a champion is short, so he has to make the best of what time he has, in the places that will reward him.

  9. oldtimer
    August 14, 2012

    One self-selected elite that does not command much favour is the political “elite”. According to Mr Brogan of the Daily Telegraph, Mr Cameron is said to be cooking up some deal with Mr Clegg to offer state funding of political parties in exchange for a LibDem vote on the boundary review. It is difficult to think of a more squalid example of the theft of taxpayers money for such a scheme. People have accepted the use of Lottery money for training top athletes. Somehow I do not think that the use of taxpayers money to fund political parties will enjoy such favour.

  10. Nick Heath
    August 14, 2012

    It’s funny how many declare that money is the root of all evil in one breath, and in the very next demand that we should be redistributing more/printing more/spending more. Odd.

  11. alan jutson
    August 14, 2012

    I did the opposite to you when young John.
    Sport and outdoor life was everything to me, and I have to say at the expense of academic life or study, hence my poor school results.

    However, competitive sport does give you one thing, a desire to do well at anything that interests you. Thus I was, what is called a late developer in academics, not at school, but at a Polytechnic for 8 years (day release and night school), when serving a proper appreticeship.

    The competitive spirit never leaves you.
    When made redundant you automatically look for another job, made redundant again you search again, after a third time you think bugger this, I will work for myself.

    Thus for over 35 years I was first self employed, before starting my own business.

    Personal ambition and drive comes from many things, but sport is an excellent medium, not only to release frustration and tension, but also to teach self control and self confidence, and in some cases team work or individuality.

    Shame that for the past 3-4 decades PC governments of all colours have rubbished competitive school sports, and sold off sports fields.
    But then in my younger days we could not simply say I was tired, fed up, and could sign on the dole to get money for nothing either.

    My father worked hard to provide, my mother went back to part time work when I was 6, only returning to full time work when I was 11 years of age.

    Thus I had good working role models, who constantly advised me that you get nothing, if you put nothing in.

    My family were never in debt either, if you could not afford something you went without until you could, hence me getting a paperound when 13.

    1. John Fitzgerald
      August 14, 2012


      On reading this you could be describing me and my experiences. It seems though that a section of our country have lost the spirit we are discussing.

      Also this country has, for years, had the attitude of “Don’t try to emulate those who are succesful, bring them down to our level!” I am not including everyone here just the prevailing attitude!

    2. Richard
      August 14, 2012

      Alan, I so enjoy and emphasise with your posts
      You are the kind of person my father used to call a great Britain

  12. Caterpillar
    August 14, 2012

    “can we overcome some of the collective jealousy of others who chose a different route to fame or riches?”

    The answer is sadly in the negative. Whilst many of us are unable to achieve ‘X-factor’ or sporting skills, imagining what it is like is within us. We can imagine running many reps, progressive resistive training and controlled diet, but ‘we’ cannot appropriately imagine the work involved in understanding complex derivative products at the same time compliance operations and global strategy, we cannot imagine the mind of Grigori Perelman (to use a Russian example); without such understanding we do not see the greatness of others, just the other.

  13. The Prangwizard
    August 14, 2012

    Amen to that.

  14. Roger Farmer
    August 14, 2012

    Uk socialism is the politics of envy. They are envious of people climbing out of poverty via an education suited to their talents. hence to quote Anthony Crosland, ” I’m going to destroy every fucking grammar school in the country.” according to his wife. Socialism prefers an ignorant, dependent, and therefore compliant society.
    UK Socialism hates competition, especially in sport. There shall be no losers, apart from the whole nation of course. The very small independant sector in education ignored this political claptrap, and reputedly was responsible for half the medals gained at 2012.
    How can we begin to translate success at 2012 into financial success throughout the UK. I can only offer a few pointers, no doubt I have missed many.
    End the prohibitive taxation under all headings that all parties seem to worship. 20% on everyones worldwide income would put an end to none doms and other evasion schemes.
    Bring back Grammar Schools and Technical Schools in overwhelming abundance.
    Emphasise competition at all levels of education and sport. No more sports field sales and an audit of available facilities so that they can be identified and utilised.
    Reform the financial services field so that peoples pensions are no longer ripped off by politicians, ( Gordon Brown) and the greed led financial sector.
    Stop supporting banks that will not support enterprise.
    Greater honesty in finance, like disclosing the names of priviledged Bank of England shareholders. We need to know who is pulling the strings.
    An end to MPs special financial arrangements and other perks. They should be paid, taxed, and treated in exactly the same way as all other citizens. No more opt outs voted for by themselves alone.
    Considerably reduce the size of Government. get them off the backs of the people.
    As the EU played no part in our Olympic success, consign them to the dustbin of failure. 2012 has proved we do not need their overbearing cloak of socialism and incompetence. Many other reasons have been blatently obvious to any objective analysis.
    Leave our futur to the enterprise and ingenuity of the individuals who should evolve from a better educated and less hampered society. The law can be left to take care of any outrageous abuses. At tax rates of 20% there is no real incentive for abuse.

    1. Tad Davison
      August 14, 2012

      Boy do I agree with those wise words Roger!


    2. forthurst
      August 14, 2012

      I’m fairly certain the BoE is owned by the HM Treasury. The FED is owned by private banksters whose identities or the scale of whose dividends are not publicly known because the FED is not subject to Federal audit; hence Ron Paul’s campaign.

      Mediaeval alchemists including possibly Isaac Newton sought to transmute base metal into gold and achieve a Midas touch through ‘science’. Had they only thought to bribe their governments and trick the people into the prerogative to issue fiat money they could have become rich and powerful beyond their wildest dreams, certainly worth killing Presidents to maintain.

    3. uanime5
      August 14, 2012

      1) Private schools had 50% of medal winners because they had the best sports facilities, mainly because state schools were forced to sell off their playing fields.

      2) Competition only benefits those at the top because they can look down on everyone else. Someone ranked 23rd in their class or 138th in their year isn’t going to try harder in something they know they’re not good at.

      3) Believing that those who pay no taxes will be willing to pay a 20% tax rate is deluded.

  15. Winston Smith
    August 14, 2012

    What? Are you advocating more socialism and State interference. The Olympics, though good for Sports fans, was a spending spree of taxpayers and lottery players money. There is no economic benefit. The facts are there to see. No Olympic venue has ever had a net economic benefit. The £13bn income is a spurious estimate made on false assumptions that visitors will revisit and spend more money. Tourism and expenditure in London was down. The vast majority of visitors to the Olympics were domestic.

    There is no market for amateur sports, so the State pays for it. The UK has spent vast amounts on Olympic sports, comparitive to other European nations, which is why you are heralding their success. It has been a huge success because the State broadcaster has devoted much of its output to support the event.

    The State takes our money to spend on sports and entertainment and the State broadcaster tells us how wonderful it is. Think about it.

    1. A different Simon
      August 14, 2012

      An awful lot of people were employed in the years leading up to the Olympics including a cousin’s husband .

      Several tens of thousands of people will be hitting the dole queue over the next few weeks to add to the economic hangover .

      If we were governed as well as the Olympics had been organised the UK really could be something to shout about .

  16. Electro-Kevin
    August 14, 2012

    People only dislike others having wealth when it is gained by cheating and nepotism.

    British people will cheer to the rafters sports stars, pop stars, film stars, scientists and iconic business leaders. They would not deny them one penny of their well deserved wealth.

    We desperately need to extend elitism to the general education system. There need to be tough exams (without bias towards gender or race) which channel our most intelligent and well behaved children away from those who do not wish to learn and who are disruptive in class.

    Presently a disproportionate amount of school resources are given to containing disruptive pupils. As our state pupils drop ever further down the global academic medal table it is becoming clear that holding the brightest back in the hope that their abilities will rub off on the less able does not work.

    1. Alan Wheatley
      August 15, 2012

      We also need to encourage elitism in all children, including those who do not want to learn and are disruptive.

      To force all children through the same academically oriented system is daft as it fails to recognise that children have a wide range of aptitude and ability. If you tailor learning to aptitude and ability then you would find those that are disruptive would be interested and would want to learn.

      Selection at 11 was a good idea in that it sought to match ALL children to the educational approach that was most likely to bring out the best in them, irrespective of where their talent lay. It was poorly implemented, most notably with the lack of technical schools.

      1. Electro-Kevin
        August 15, 2012


        Elitism in vocational education too.

        Let’s drag everyone up rather than down as we have been doing. (Excepting those who pay for private education or (in the case of Lefties) secure for their childred the best state schools through high value property ownership.

  17. A different Simon
    August 14, 2012

    John ,

    It might suit your prejudices to try and dismiss the anger and disgust towards certain sectors of the financial services industry as being down to jealousy but that is not the reason .

    If you doubt this ask yourself who is more popular and why , top flight footballers or senior members of the financial services industry .

    Your Govt has done nothing to protect the vulnerable against loan sharks .

    It would be very easy for Westminster and Whitehall to put in place a sequence of events which would result in a national pension scheme that would act in the interest of members but you won’t because it would cut off a supply of money from the bloated financial services industry .

  18. Simon
    August 14, 2012

    Perhaps there are some people envious of success, but I do not think I personally am one of them.

    There is, however, a difference between envy and moral outrage. The elites in parliament who couldn’t keep their hands out of the till or sold access to power; the elites in the banking system who chose personal gain over sound business; the elites in the media who thought themselves above the law in the pursuit of trivial stories; all of these people made moral choices to enrich themselves at the expense of others.

    They are the drug cheats and horse dopers, and they are rightly the objects of ire.

  19. norman
    August 14, 2012

    If successful businessmen were to hand over, say, 80% of their wealth rather than the rather desultory 53% they currently hand over I’m sure the British public would be far more conducive to their success their success.

    It’s not success we don’t like. Look at the olympics. It’s that other people have what we don’t. We all understand we won’t run the 100m in 9.7 seconds so celebrate that acheivement but too many take the view that, and let’s just take MPs as an example as this is a political blog, too many others don’t get their by natural brilliance but because of connections enabling them to become a bag carrier to a friend of the family before being parachuted into a safe seat to become lobby fodder for whatever party has given them their position.

    There are too few Douglas Carswell’s / John Redwoods / David Davis’ who got to where they are by being the best and too many Louise Mensch’s (and I don’t want to single her out as there are dozens more but she’s a topical example) who got where they are by not being the best then not really caring about the job they managed to get handed to them on a silver platter.

    See the difference?

    1. Richard
      August 14, 2012

      Norman, I feel any tax rate of over 50% by the State is theft.
      If I was faced with a tax rate of 80% on my earnings or the earnings of my business efforts then I would just pack up and go fishing.

    2. zorro
      August 14, 2012

      Desultory 53%….?!?! Yes, perhaps people should hand over all the fruits of their labour and get some pocket money off the state each week, that’ll encourage effort….or isn’t that communism?


  20. Sue
    August 14, 2012

    “can’t we show the same determination and achieve the same success as an industrial and service sector nation in the markets of the world?” – Not while we have a huge ball and chain around our necks called the EU.

    We need to leave the EU, cut red tape, taxes, fuel, energy prices and free up employment taken by unskilled foreign workers (that will cut the benefits bill). Priority of skilled work should be given to Britons before we import temporary workers. We can’t possibly compete with the rest of the world at the prices our industries have to pay to produce goods for export.

    It’s ultimately this governments fault we are in this mess. If we had left the EU when Cameron was lecturing on “our rights for a referendum”, we’d be recovering like Iceland (who incidently are having serious thoughts on NOT joining the EU now).

    I have no qualms about people getting rich despite the way we are fleeced for our earnings. As far as the Olympics are concerned, I read the total spend is now around £11 billion. With that sort of unlimited budget, I challenge anyone not to produce something fantastic.

    It’s shame the whole thing was spoilt by politicians trying to steal the limelight during the whole event. Surely, Cameron had better things to do, like running the country! He should be listening to the voters instead of making it quite obvious that he is now addicted to the world stage like Blair was. Sorting out world hunger is something you do AFTER you’ve been Prime Minister, not as well as.

    He is only managing to prove to us all that he no longer wields enough power to make any serious decisions regarding our country and so he might as well do some charidy work. Just so long as he doesn’t cost the British taxpayer anymore money. We give enough to the EU for their “cohesion policies” (wealth distribution, charity in other words) and his overseas commitments (for they are not ours, we didn’t promise them).

    Alternatively, he could sort out the problem of 1 million undernourished children in the UK or the thousands of people who are suffering from ill health, lack of cancer treatments and depression because of the debt crisis or those who are losing their homes on a daily basis. He really doesn’t give a cr*p about us. Didn’t we have enough with Saint Blair? The very last thing we need is a Saint Cameron too.

    By the way, putting up rail prices is not conducive to getting people into work. What with all the other bills we have to pay, how on earth do you expect us to have any money left over to spend on anything?

  21. The Prangwizard
    August 14, 2012

    For the avoidance of doubt my ‘Amen to that’ was for Mr Redwood’s piece.

  22. Martin
    August 14, 2012

    I don’t know why folk are using the Olympics to have a go at professional footballers.

    My local team is not subsidised by the National Lottery or any government. It is a private enterprise business. It is kept going by paying customers, advertisements and some money from subscriber TV.

    I wonder how many of the Olympic “heroes” and their newly discovered “fans” would be willing to turn out on a freezing cold dark February night?

  23. Mark B
    August 14, 2012

    The sports men and women at the Olympics were competing in an honest, open and fair competition. With set rules, that they could all abide by. Real life however, isn’t like that !!! Well not for those at our level.

    That is why Bankers, politicians and others, who do not play by life’s little rules, do not get the admiration that they think they deserve.

    The Banks should have gone bust, just like any other business would have had to. Politicians having ‘duck ponds’ and other questionable expenses made payable at tax payers expense, should have ALL gone to jail (my view, although I doubt I am alone or in a minority).

    Businessmen do indeed get gold, and silver, and bronze (actually copper). Its called money or profit. They make it after government takes its cut, for what ? Oh yeah, Olympics.

    Footballers, although not all, get paid large sums because, they have a skill that others want. If more than enough people want that skill, the footballer can command a higher fee. Its called, ‘FREE MARKET CAPITALISM’- I learned that from Margaret Thatcher. The fact that they have their lives in the news is nothing to do with their skill, but naked opportunism by the media and a scandal obsessed culture we seem to have. Or one with few morals – re: bankers etc.

    Some people in business, politics and especially the public sector (e.g nurses in the
    NHS) do indeed work hard and ‘go the extra mile’ so to speak. But they do not always get the top job(s) or even the credit they deserve. That usually goes to mediocre people who just happen to know the right people in the right places.

    Yes we can become a major competitor in the world. But first we must divorce ourselves from the economic and political ‘Three/Multi-legged-race’ that has become the EU.

    Jealousy ! After 13 years of Socialism, the politics of envy, what do you expect ?

    How ironic then that the Olympics, the most competitive and capitalist extravaganza should be New Labours’ epitaph.

  24. Rebecca Hanson
    August 14, 2012

    “An elite in political and sociological theory, is a small group of people who control a disproportionate amount of wealth or political power.”

    Most of them are not rich and few of them control anything.

    1. Rebecca Hanson
      August 14, 2012

      Are you deliberately confusing elite (noun) with elite (verb)? These are elite (verb) athletes which simply means they are the best. When elite is used as a noun it has a different meaning (above).

      In general I think most people are happy for others to be successful provided they pay their taxes and don’t achieve their success at the expense of those who are more deserving.

      I recognise that there are politicians who attack the rich posh boys. I think rich posh boys who don’t pay their taxes and/or who shove deeply ignorant policies through government in the interests of their friends and to the clear detriment of society deserve to be attacked.

      I know there are good Tory politicians who do not deserve to be attacked. But if you don’t deserve to be attacked the then arrows won’t hit. They will simply sharpen your attention which is often a good thing.

      Children do need to be taught to respect all people in society around them and not indoctrinated with hatred. Do you think our current policies in education understand this?

      Reply: I am sure the government has no wish to see hatred taught to children. I trust teachers also share your and my dislike of such an approach.

      1. Rebecca Hanson
        August 14, 2012

        Thanks for your reply John.

        Please can I express how mortified I am that I have confused verbs and adjectives! :$

        Over recent years the intense focus on key targets and interventions has compromised the opportunities teachers have to focus on the personal development of students. This has particularly been the case in secondary schools in challenging areas where relentless ‘improvement’ has led to the repeated culling of the staff most skilled in these areas.

        We now have the ICT capability to define professional tracking systems which pay proper attention to the development of students’ personal skills (in areas such as selecting the techniques to apply to practical problems, coping when you are stuck, working cooperatively and so on) while improving and expanding the tracking of traditional knowledge and skills. Unfortunately policy in these areas is going backwards rather than forwards.

      2. lifelogic
        August 15, 2012

        @Rebecca “Children do need to be taught to respect all people in society around them”

        Why? Surely they should be taught to make valid judgements and respect those who are worthy of such respect.

        Why should children be taught to “respect” all (try to understand and even help them maybe). Should they respect people who choose not to work and thus live off the backs of others, people who become drunks, beat up their wives and children, become drug addicts and violent criminals, or simply have absurd, irrational (and often obnoxious) beliefs?

        Respect needs to be earned not demanded surely.

        1. zorro
          August 15, 2012

          Agreed…..this is part of the problem. Not everything or everyone is worthy of respect. In a democracy, one is required to tolerate all lawful activity, but it is my free will to decide who I respect and for what reason.


        2. Rebecca Hanson
          August 16, 2012

          I have always respected everyone. By doing so I have come to understand why they are as they are in tremendous detail so that I can better understand society and how it might be otherwise.

          I have often found that people who have experienced substantial failure still have very interesting and useful things to teach me about life.

          I’ve friends who are or have been abusers of alcohol or other substances. Having suffered from depression myself I don’t feel that I am above the – in my eyes substance abuse and depression have a lot in common. I’m at ease with people who’ve been in prison and have particular respect for those who have been and who have managed to turn their lives around and sort them out afterwards as I know how hard this is to do. I treat people who’ve purpetrated domestic violence with respect too.

          Having taught in secondary schools in the most challenging circumstances I have had to work with families who know through and through that they have done little to earn anyone’s respect. I find that it is only by making the time to give them the respect they deserve for the things they have managed to do and the very challenging issues they face that I’ve been able to turn failing situations around.

          I have found that my attitude of giving respect to everyone has greatly enriched my life. I can’t think of any ways at all in which it has diminished it. I find that people are much more likely to do what I ask them to do if they know that I fundamentally respect them as a person.

  25. Richard
    August 14, 2012

    Fortunately I was brought in a Christian family who told me that to envy others was a sin and so I do not fret and worry myself that there are others much better off than me.

    We have debated on this site the best ways to achieve growth and most seem to feel that growth is vital.
    The problem is that envy is the enemy of growth as it leads to emotional political decisions being made rather than pragmatic ones
    For example we now have taxes set at such high rates which are bringing in less revenues rather than more.
    If you are the kind of person who wants to “tax the rich ’till the pips squeak” then you need to set the rates at a much more clever and efficient level.

    I will however confess to some envy, when I look at the levels of pay and conditions in the State sector.
    Having toiled in a small business in a very competitive sector of manufacturing all my life, I look on with envy at the huge salaries paid to Council chief executives, quango bosses and business leaders who run monopolies.
    There is a sense of great unfairness here which I feel a lot of people share.
    Perhaps their jobs should be advertised each year or two to see if any decent alternative candidates would apply at a fraction of the salary levels being paid.
    I think in many cases there would be a queue round the block.

    1. zorro
      August 14, 2012

      Did you never think of applying for a civil service job/public sector job before? If not, there’s no point in feeling jealous. Perhaps you thought that you might make more money in private industry or your own business which, of course, can always happen.


      1. Richard
        August 15, 2012

        You are quite right, with hindsight, I should have changed career many years ago and become one of the salariat.
        Trouble is when I was younger, I loved engineering, making things and getting my hands dirty and it was what a lot people in the Midlands did when they left school.
        Money wasn’t the main factor for me and many others I know in this industry.
        I just feel the salaries paid now to management in quango land and in local councils and in the BBC as just three exemples, are unnecessarily high.
        But Im not bitter!

    2. lifelogic
      August 15, 2012

      Indeed pay in the state sector is about 50% above the private sector (when pensions are included) in addition they have far better conditions, more job security, take more sick leave and work fewer hours. Many also do little of any real benefit to anyone and many do positive harm to the economy.

  26. A.Sedgwick
    August 14, 2012

    Historic Vote for EU Referendum in Lib Dem Seats in Manchester

    Record 35% turnout in Cheadle and Hazel Grove Constituencies

    Cheadle Referendum

    Numbers voting AGREE 13,606 (86.6%)

    Numbers voting DISAGREE 2,068 (13.2%)

    Turnout: 15,674 (35.4%)

    Hazel Grove Referendum

    Numbers voting AGREE 12,043 (88.5%)

    Numbers voting DISAGREE 1,559 (11.5%)

    Turnout: 13,602 (34.93%)

    1. Richard
      August 14, 2012

      And have you noticed how this newsworthy event has been almost universally ignored by national press and TV companies.

      1. alan jutson
        August 14, 2012


        More importantly it is being ignored by all three of the main Party’s who could do something about it.

        1. Bob
          August 14, 2012


          If you watch the YouTube clip which I mentioned above, G. Edward Griffin points out that the main political parties all avoid public debate about issues over which they all agree. It’s the way the system works.

          I recommend that you watch it, but be prepared to have your preconceptions about our political system challenged.

  27. Sue Doughty
    August 14, 2012

    Having not done sports in your youth would not have barred you from the Olympics. One gold medal winner, Anna Watkins, had never been near a rowing boat until she started at Cambridge University and was measured and signed up for rowing by talent scouts.

    1. peter davies
      August 14, 2012

      She may have never done rowing but she had done many other sports so that statement is not 100% true.

      The rowing scouts look for athletic people of a certain size who are already fit and young enough to train to a new discipline.

    2. alan jutson
      August 14, 2012


      Think you will find she was a PE teacher.

  28. Tad Davison
    August 14, 2012

    Elites are a fact of life.  Some people always will be better at some things than other people and command high wages.  In a large number of cases, that remuneration depends upon the value we place upon the services they provide.

    A footballer might receive £250,000 per week, and that is bound to ruffle a few feathers when they don’t perform.  Bankers are in a similar position.  The system is rigged in such a way, a lot of them still receive massive bonuses and salaries despite performing badly.

    Now I’m not fishing for sympathy, just trying to make a point.  Some weeks ago, I had six hours of reconstructive surgery.  On Friday 3rd August, some two weeks afterwards, all went badly wrong and I was re-admitted to hospital.  I returned home yesterday with the prospect of more surgery next week.  In short, had it not been for an elite who managed to put the problem right, my wife would be a widow.  From my perspective, the surgical team are worth far more than a footballer or a banker, but clearly not everyone thinks so, hence the curious disparity in remuneration.

    Perhaps the education and the direction of our young people is wrong, or maybe the all-powerful media has conditioned people to think that service to ones own celebrity and themselves is more worthy than a wider service to humanity. 

    I like to see a good game of football.  I even think some bankers do the nation a service when they earn revenue for us.  It’s nice too that our Olympic athletes have put us on the map, but I also feel far too many people are famous merely for being famous, and it cannot be right that we just seem to want to put more and more money into their pockets.  

    Some of the nurses at Cambridge’s Addenbrookes hospital are little more than kids  –  certainly younger than my eldest daughter  –  but their dedication is worth much, much more than some spoilt so-called celebrities I could name.  We really do need to get our priorities right and forget this preoccupation with the adulation of tenth-rate people who are rewarded for feathering their own nest.  In my view, there are far more deserving cases.

    Tad Davison


    1. alan jutson
      August 14, 2012


      Trust all goes well and you make a full and complete recovery.

      1. Tad Davison
        August 14, 2012

        Thanks Alan, much appreciated. I haven’t got the worst illness imaginable, just a multiplicity of other things that are a cursed nuisance. Hopefully one day I’ll be over the worst.


    2. Electro-Kevin
      August 14, 2012

      Hope you make a good recovery, Tad.

    3. lifelogic
      August 15, 2012

      Banker are not in a similar position to footballers the latter are paid for talent and drawing power and you can only have 11 on the team. The former seem to be paid for being incompetent, have very poor government control/regulation and could usefully be replaced by a few solid accountants and people who understand risk/reward.

      Let us hope the bright children, like yours, do not all want to go into the over protected and over paid areas like the law, civil service or politics – we have far more than enough already.

  29. Bert Young
    August 14, 2012

    Dr. JR , You are right to draw attention to the discipline required in any sort of success – be it in academia , the sports field or, business/industry . Good training under the watchful eye of a supportive and inspiring mentor always pays off – the future depends on its results . Success in one field does not mean failure or diminished achievement in another . I was able to spread my wings in several directions and , when asked about this digging into the psychology , I believe it was down to paternal encouragement and challenge .

  30. Atlas
    August 14, 2012

    I gather Cameron wants to make PE compulsory. Aaaagh! I hated school enforced sports. It really put me off them.

    It was Cameron flailing about for a sound-bite I suppose.

    1. Richard
      August 14, 2012

      Atlas I agree with you entirely.
      One of my children enjoys all PE, games and sports whereas another child of mine hates every second.
      Allowing children to have some choices in the subjects and pastimes and exercise they want to do would be best.
      We can’t all be sports men and women just as we can’t all be academics

  31. Revin Kevin
    August 14, 2012

    Eliteism is better than medoricosy.

  32. peter davies
    August 14, 2012

    There are parts of the UK that don’t allow teams to lose in sports in-case it hurts their feelings. Unfortunately this kind of ‘leftie clap trap is one of the things that curtail success, be it in business or sport – we really need to get back to basics and move away from all this irritating political correctness spouted by the likes of senior labour politicians and the BBC.

    Its funny how so many elite rowers etc come from public school backgrounds who ignore all this and just get on with their chosen sports – a good lesson for the rest of the education system to take on board – Stop selling off playing fields
    and place greater emphasis on sports and academic excellence whilst leaving out the politics of envy

  33. Phil Richmond
    August 14, 2012

    What we need is the same elitism applied to Education. However with the Lib-Dems/Labour & the BBC completely against selection that just leaves the Conservatives. Ahhh…….the Conservatives (under green/wet/quisling Cameron) are no different to the rest.
    Is there a party I agree with on education. Yes just like on every other issue I have found a home at UKIP.
    John – how can you be a member of the same party as Tim Yeo?

  34. Adam5x5
    August 14, 2012

    can we overcome some of the collective jealousy of others who chose a different route to fame or riches?

    No, because the people who aren’t good at sport can understand the necessary theories behind being good at sport (try hard, repeat daily).

    Most people who moan about the rich bankers/businesses don’t have the first clue about economic and financial theory and probably don’t have either the intelligence or motivation to even try.

    Of course the Mainstream media, led by the BBC, doesn’t help by only representing the risks of many of the products that led to collapse, never the benefits of such products.

    1. forthurst
      August 14, 2012

      How can products which have caused a global financial collapse be deemed ‘beneficial’ under any circumstances?

      1. Adam5x5
        August 15, 2012

        Credit default swaps (CDSs) are derivative contracts that allow agents to shift the risk of default on an
        underlying credit from a credit protection buyer to a credit protection seller. Like other derivatives they are
        standardised relative to the underlying cash markets and in this way can help promote market liquidity.
        This in turn can facilitate risk shifting and price discovery. In this way they may lead to accurate pricing of
        credit risk and ultimately to the reduced costs of borrowing.

        I cribbed this from:

        as it phrases it better than I could.
        Over-extending yourself as the banks did is what caused the problem, and this would cause the collapse with or without CDSs.

  35. matthu
    August 14, 2012

    Yup. We love elites – but they daren’t be seen here unless they have a tax amnesty.

    So in The Telegraph today we read:

    [ Bolt ] who won gold medals in the 100m, 200m and 4x100m relay at the Games in London, objects to a law that sees him taxed on global sponsorship and endorsement earnings as well as any appearance fee – levied at the 50pc higher earning rate – when he competes in Britain.

    And despite setting a new world record during the Olympics, the 25 year-old, who earns an estimated $20m (£12.7m) a year, says his UK-based fans won’t see him compete until the tax laws are loosened.

    “As soon as the law changes I’ll be here all the time,” Bolt said. “I love being here, I have so many Jamaican fans here and it’s wonderful.”

    Glyn Bunting, a partner at Deloitte, told Radio 4 that HMRC would not only want a slice of Bolt’s winnings in the UK but also his £12.5m sponsorship deal with Puma.

    “Usain Bolt will be paid a considerable amount of money to wear a particular brand of clothing or a particular type of racing shoe and HMRC wants its share of that income,” Mr Bunting said.

    So we won’t be seeing many of the elites then – unless we change the tax laws.

    1. Bazman
      August 15, 2012

      That London property prices in even further free fall then..

  36. Thomas E
    August 14, 2012

    John, when was the last time a group of sports men conspired together to rig a $500tn market? When was the last time a group of sports women conspire to bypass sanctions to provide Iran with the means to fund its nuclear weapons program? When was the last time a sports man’s mistake forced the government to step in to rescue a company with debts worth more than a years gross domestic product?

    John, why do you think British people who celebrate honest success might not celebrate bankers?

    Reply: For heaven’s sake, I am no more a fan of banker misdeeds than you and did not suggest we should celebrate them, any more than we would celebrate drug taking gold medal winners.

  37. Matthew
    August 14, 2012

    The effect of the Olympics will be brief, before long the press will run stories about how under used and expensive the facilities are – pictures of brush weeds.

    As someone one said Jealousy is the only one of the deadly sins that won’t give you any fun, best pick one of the others.
    Fairness has to be a factor too, people are more inclined to become envious if they pay their taxes and they think that other people are finding schemes to avoid their fair share. The issue of fairness is something that gives the unions leverage. (The issue of avoidance and evasion is lost on people, if they’re viewed as not paying the resentment is there)
    The Schedule E taxpayer going to work at the factory every day gets the opportunity of very few tax breaks. Schedule D – you’ve got lots of grey areas, lots of scope to lower your tax bill.
    As you’ve often alluded to, in the issue of avoiding taxes there is a lot of smoke and mirrors. It could be that the individual makes pension or charitable contributions. It could be that a tabloid runs a story on an individual alleging that they are avoiding tax by a film scheme or some such route. What the article never says is that the revenue often target and challenge such schemes and win.
    This gives the individual a hang of a headache, do they incur fees to take on the revenue or pay up?
    All the accountancy firms will sell you tax avoidance schemes, what they don’t often say is what happens when they go wrong.
    The tax system needs to be simpler, fairer that will reduce envy to the better off.
    Lower to top rate to 40% but cut down on some of the phoney reliefs.

  38. Iain Gill
    August 14, 2012

    I don’t mind elites who worked for their hard earned status both financial and otherwise, I very much do mind elites who consider themselves superior by dint of the schools or college their parents were able to procure for them. Also anyone with privilege should have genuine humility and respect for everyone else.
    I also think elites should have to obey the rules the same as everyone else, no bus lanes on motorways for Prescott and Teflon Tony to ride along thanks, and given the obvious and widespread criminal activity in the banking sector I think it’s a reasonable expectation that a few bankers would have been locked up by now.
    I don’t consider PPE at Oxbridge elite myself and I fail to understand why so many identikit politicians are leading the big parties and doing so badly, did nobody take the hint when the electorate refused to vote any one party into power?

  39. JimF
    August 14, 2012

    There is a difference between the newly-crowned olympic elites, who have been seen to transparently come top of the tree against strong competition, and the slightly dodgy areas where folk scramble up the tree by sycophancy, nepotism and unnecessary ruthlessness using other peoples’ money. When the olympic athlete fails, his heart bleeds as he walks away from the medal he expected. When Hornby and Goodwin fail, they stand on the podium and demand the gold medal that is contractually theirs.

  40. uanime5
    August 14, 2012

    When people become incredible wealthy because they play a popular sport, act like a thug on and off the field, and avoid paying as much tax as possible is it any wonder than most people don’t like them. People who are paid huge salaries and bonuses regardless of whether they make a profit or run their company into the ground, then avoid paying as much taxes as possible are equally as bad.

    Regarding the politics of envy part of the problem is that in the UK if you don’t have the latest device, the right clothes, go to the right school, or come first in any competition you’re classed as a failure. As long as we live in a materialistic and competitive society where your value is measured by what you earn and greed is encouraged expect envy to be common place.

    1. Bob
      August 15, 2012


      “…in the UK if you don’t have the latest device, the right clothes, go to the right school, or come first in any competition you’re classed as a failure.”

      I feel very hurt.

  41. will
    August 14, 2012

    £9.3 billion pounds will be the bargain of the century, if as a result of the games british people realise that ambition is good.

    if as a result, we produce entrepreneurs with global ambition, this country by that alone will be in a better state than it has been in decades.

  42. Bazman
    August 15, 2012

    You assume there is a collective jealousy of elites instead of a resentment of wealth being made at the general expense of the population such as banking and the utilities. A thread is stolen from everyone and suit produced for one person. This is not jealousy and asking if this is for the good of the population is not either.

    1. Richard
      August 15, 2012

      Like you I dislike monopoly businesses who expolit their customers, but wealth is not like energy there isnt a finite amount of it.
      Wealth can be created without impoverishing others.

  43. Lindsay McDougall
    August 15, 2012

    There are a couple of elite groups that we do not like:
    (1) Banks that held out their begging bowls for taxpayers money
    (2) People who incurred debt to buy overvalued property

    Both these groups, and HM government, benefit from QE and an 0.5% base rate. Nobody else does.

    A recent news announcement stated that over 50% of house vendors had to reduce their original asking price, by an average of 7.6%, in order to get a sale. I welcome this news as another step on the road to sanity.

    1. Bazman
      August 15, 2012
  44. Mark
    August 15, 2012

    I note that the medal winners for Team GB included two Old Etonians (another who is a scion of the aristocracy came very close) and a member of the Royal Family. Members of elites often have more than one string to their bow.

Comments are closed.