Belfast Telegraph

Waging war on crazy pay would be one step in right direction

By Robert McNeill

At last, a Government minister has spoken out. About One Direction. And the humungous amount of money they "earn", in the loosest possible sense of the word.

True, the minister is yon Vince Cable, who was never quite "one of us" – as in them – in the Thatcherite sense. And true, terrorised by possible retribution for his heresy, he later distanced himself from his own remarks. But, still, it's a start.

First, let's get on the money. Last year, the five band members earned £25m. If you multiply that by X and divide by your shoe that gives them £5m each.

Now, despite having written authoritatively about the band many times, I have not at the time of going to press heard any of their discs. Perhaps they're worth more than the minimum wage.

But not that much, for God's sake. The issue was first raised by Institute of Directors director general Simon Walker.

Given that he got the band's name wrong – calling them New Direction – you'd be forgiven for calling him the Institute of Directions direction general. Indeed, he should form a band called One Director, as he's the only one speaking out.

I'd never heard of Simon before but he could be a capitalist I might actually like (while not actually committing to that sentiment; words like that usually come back to haunt you).

He called on shareholders to make a stand against excessive bankers' bonuses and executive pay, rather than treating bosses as "rock star executives [who] should not be challenged". Rock on, Simon.

Taking centre stage for a searing solo, he continued: "I think it's mad that the members of the boy band New Direction made £5m each last year. I think it's crazy that many of the footballers are routinely paid £10m a year."

Mark the words: mad, crazy. At last someone's talking the language of sanity. But any time anyone addresses this subject, they feel as if they're orating in an empty room. All they hear is an ovine bleat outside. That bleat is the voice of the people.

Still, the aforementioned Cable is supposedly a representative of the selfsame people, a left-wing Liberal in a Tory-dominated Government. Boy, that fellow has an identity crisis.

Asked if he agreed about One Direction's pay, he said: "I agree ... about the extremities of pay and the fact much of it is grossly insensitive and downright immoral."

However, this was taken to be an attack on the controversial band, leaving Cable to fear for his life. Accordingly, and unusually for a Liberal (joke), he retracted his previous statement, explaining: "I don't want to attack One Direction, one particular pop group who apparently are very popular and very successful. I have nothing against them."

Well, why the hell not? Although I've never heard them, I presume they're the usual dancing clots who should be imprisoned indefinitely. Everyone should be against this sort of thing.

Even the prime minister wimped out, with his office issuing the following emergency statement: "The prime minister does not have a view on the pay of One Direction." Shocking.

All this in the week that a rise in the minimum wage was announced: of 12p an hour.

Twelve effing pee. If you've a head about your person, I suggest banging it rhythmically off a wall. Forever. It's the only sane response.

Belfast Telegraph


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