Ed Miliband’s ‘sockerooni schloss’
It was no surprise to learn that Ed Miliband is a millionaire, and that most of his money has been made from the London property boom. According to The Sunday Times, his house in Dartmouth Park, north London – bought for £1.6m, with a £400,000 mortgage, in 2009 – is now worth at least £2m.
Bully for you, Ed, says Boris Johnson in The Daily Telegraph. “Ed and his charming wife have nimbly scrambled the same ladder that enabled the financial ascent of the Blairs and every other trendy Lefty power couple in London.” And as a Tory who doesn’t believe in the politics of envy, “I feel not the slightest twinge of resentment”.
The Milibands used an inheritance to buy their first flat, for about £100,000. After selling it a few years later in 2006 for £342,000, they took out a bigger mortgage and bought a house in Hampstead. They then sold that, too, “trousered another £100,000 or so”, as Johnson puts it, “and used the extra to get themselves an even bigger mortgage and the truly sockerooni schloss they now occupy”.
The house is “one of those Victorian dwellings that are so beloved of the affluent bourgeoisie. Think sash windows and wedding-cake cornicing and encaustic tiles and all manner of period features…” But although I’m “not gripped by a hot rage of egalitarian fervour” when I contemplate Miliband’s house, says Johnson, I am conscious that most middle-class Londoners now could never dream of paying £2m for their home.
No wonder “people in the middle – on household incomes from £30,000 to £64,000 – are feeling utterly and understandably ignored”. They have to live a long way from where they work and spend huge amounts on travel. Ed is at “the top of a ladder”. For many people, that ladder has now been “kicked away”.
Blowing it up...
Pressed to choose between the two greatest bands of the 1960s, the Beatles and the Rolling Stones, “many would pick The Who”, says The Times. Their hair may have turned silver and their lead singer may now dabble in trout farms and the Countryside Alliance, but they made what is “commonly regarded” as the greatest live album ever.
Their antics, especially those of Keith Moon, their drummer, “set the bar for rock band mischief at a time when fellow musicians were singing about peace and wearing flowers in their hair”. Take their appearance on The Smothers Brothers Show in 1967, which, says The Times, brought their TV appearances in America to “a brisk halt”.
Moon had bribed a stage hand to fill his bass drum with explosives. When these went off, at the climax of My Generation, the TV cameras were briefly blinded by the blast. “The smoke cleared to reveal Moon lying on the studio floor, his arm sliced open by cymbal shrapnel, Townshend’s hair on fire and, by all accounts, the lead guitarist’s hearing damaged for good. Standing in the wings were Bette Davis and Mickey Rooney. She fainted into his arms.”
Tabloid money… Osborne’s divide-and-rule con trick
• George Osborne’s conference speech showed that the Tories are reverting to type and trying to “divide and rule”, says Kevin Maguire in the Daily Mirror. On the one hand he proposed that workers trade their rights for company shares. It might sound attractive, but it’s a blatant “con trick”.
“Your boss gives you £2,000 of potentially worthless shares. In return the shark can sack you, compensation-free, at the drop of a hat and deny a redundancy pay-off.” His other idea is “to make work pay” by slashing a further £10bn from welfare benefits. Together the plans are a “naked attempt to play the working poor off against the workless poor”. Whether his strategy works or not, the result of his proposals will be a “low wage, insecure economy”.
• “Is the BBC helping thousands of workers dodge income tax?” asks The Sun. It recently emerged that it pays 4,500 ‘freelancers’ through personal service companies. This ruse allows them to pay tax at about half of the 40% they could be clobbered with.
For genuine freelancers, “for whom the BBC is one of several employers”, that is fair enough. But the scheme shouldn’t be used for ‘freelancers’ who “are solely BBC staff” who do little work for other companies. The government is now “cracking down on those exploiting this loophole” – it may emerge that the BBC is at the centre of another scandal.
• There is no excuse left for railway privatisation, says Peter Hitchens in The Mail on Sunday. “Sweeteners paid to train firms mean private rail has cost far more to run than nationalised lines ever did.” Even supposed triumphs, such as banning smoking and increasing passenger numbers, are down to social and demographic changes rather than anything private companies have done.
The costly mess of the West Coast franchise – which we will have to pay for – shows the whole system is misbegotten. “If British Rail came back from the dead, I for one would embrace it with tears in my eyes as a long-lost friend.”