American novelist F. Scott Fitzgerald once said to his friend Ernest Hemingway: “You know, the rich are different from you and me.” Hemingway retorted: “Yeah. They’ve got more money.” But Starmer says it’s more complicated than that. In what amounted to a highly personal attack on Rishi Sunak, he highlighted the minister’s personal wealth and gave pointed examples. The fact Sunak (and his fabulously wealthy wife) own four homes, here and abroad. Sunak’s own disclosure that they like to keep four different types of bread in the house. (Uh? No, me neither). His little nest egg of around £200million (wife Akshata is said to be worth four times that. At least).
Should any of this matter? Yes, says Starmer. He believes that kind of stupendous, almost unimaginable personal fortune raises a “broader issue” about how fantastically wealthy politicians may be, almost by default, disconnected from ordinary people’s lives.
“It’s about whether he (Sunak) gets it,” the Labour leader said. “It’s about whether you understand, whether you can relate to the very real struggles that people have, and the cost of living crisis.”
He also pointed to the Chancellor’s ill-judged recent photoshoot where he decided to borrow a Sainsbury’s worker’s humble car, implying the £12,000 vehicle was his own. In fact, Sunak drives a high-spec Range Rover, a top-of-the-range Lexus and a BMW (with aVW Golf for running around town). Not a little sub-compact Kia Rio. Street-cred was further undermined when the Chancellor appeared to struggle with quite how to pay for fuel using a credit card. It wasn’t his best day at the office, or rather, on the forecourt.
But is Starmer cynically playing to the gallery of traditional British wealth-envy? It’s not as if the Chancellor was born in a castle, silver spoon firmly stuck in mouth, fleets of nannies and private tutors on hand. He’s a self-made man. He made his millions in hedge-fund management; unlike his wife, he didn’t inherit them. Michael Heseltine was extremely wealthy too, but like Sunak that was by the fruits of his own labours.
No one ever seriously accused him of being unable to connect with the voters just because he had a few quid in the bank (although the late Alan Clark MP, whoWAS born in a castle, once sneeringly remarked that Heseltine “is the sort of man who had to buy all his own furniture”. How’s that for snobbery?) We’re quick to criticise politicians for having no experience outside the Westminster bubble.
Then when we get someone who has (and with conspicuous success), we complain that they’re too rich. It’s almost enough to make you feel sorry for them. But only almost.
No housework? Get charged!
An opinion poll in France shows that roughly 50 per cent are in favour of new laws criminalising people who refuse to do their share of the housework. This mad idea is actually gaining traction here. Unbelievable. There are those who seriously think that a husband, wife, or live-in partner who won’t make the bed, do the washing-up or push a vacuum cleaner around, should be charged with a criminal offence.
It beggars belief, doesn’t it? Can you imagine the wording of the police charge being read out in magistrates’ court?
“Did fail to wipe down or otherwise clean and sanitise kitchen tops and hob unit. Did leave unwashed dishes in dry sink. Refused to use dustpan and brush or mini-vac to retrieve fragments of potato crisp from carpet in the TV lounge.”
To my astonishment, more than 20 per cent of viewers to a snap Good Morning Britain poll on Tuesday agreed with this legal loony tune.
Would Judy or I go to jail if it became law? That would mean one of us grassing the other up, wouldn’t it? And what would constitute evidence? A yellow-encrusted egg cup? It’s beyond a yolk!
Britney is pregnant
Congratulations to Britney Spears, expecting her third child at the age of 40.
Until just a few months ago, under the harsh terms of her now-cancelled “conservatorship” arrangements with her father, she was pretty much forced to use birth control. Appalling. But now she is pregnant and clearly deliriously happy.
A bit like our daughter, Chloe, when she met Britney years ago on the day that we interviewed the star. We’ll never forget Chloe’s reaction when Britney said a friendly “Hi!” to her. Tears shot from her eyes and she completely lost the power of speech – for the rest of the day! Now Chloe, too, is expecting. Circle of life, and all that.