Tuesday, 27 October 2015

Dear Andrew Lloyd Webber

Dear Andrew,

Re: Tax Credits Vote in the House of Lords

Never a fan, so this ain't going to pull lines punning your substantial contributions to musical theatre. Instead, I've avoided them and and baked in a healthy dollop of fury and disgust. That is because you sir, with your 650 millions, power to make and break careers, and alchemical capacity to transmute box office manure into gold, are among the lowest of the low. You epitomise everything that is small-minded, rotten, and hypocritical about the establishment you serve. Not because of who you are, but because you're prepared to go the extra mile in its defence.

Extra mile? 3,459 miles to be exact. I may be a simple prole, but even I cannot fathom why you were so moved to board a jet from New York to be in the Lords last night to try and vote down the challenge to tax credits. Having dug around your internet presence, something I assure you was no pleasure at all, your Wikipedia entry (of all things) attributes a position to you that "his stated view that it's important for democracy that the House of Lords should not override decisions made by the elected House of Commons ...". No link, so no way of knowing if that accurately represents your view. Though it's also worth noting plenty of Tories have trotted out the same line to give their decision to support cuts to the incomes of the lowest paid workers a principled gloss, so for the purpose of this letter I'll surmise that is indeed your position.

Now, I don't expect you to follow politics that closely as there are always new shows to write and glamorous people to hobnob with, but being a Lord n'all, you should know a bit about what that entails. The basic stuff about what the second chamber can and cannot do. You would therefore know that, in fact, the Lords has not and cannot override the power of the Commons, and last night was a case in point. What happened was a delay to the implementation of cuts to tax credits. As per their constitutional roles, their Lords and Ladyships scrutinised a statutory instrument - not a bill debated and passed by the Commons - and sent it back for further work. I don't particularly like this, but it is a constitutional arrangement your party supports and was quite prepared to trade in a boundary review in the last Parliament to defend its privileges. So either you scuttled over from New York because you're naively but unforgivably thick enough not to know the ABCs of Britain's constitution, a constitution in which you play a role; or you are deliberately cynical and wanted to help your mates out of a pickle entirely of their making.

Have you reflected for a moment how absurd and obscene it is for you, a man with hundreds of millions in the back, to tell people on less than what you blow through in a week that their income should be even lower? Take that wealth. You probably think you're entitled to every single penny of it. You're the creative genius, after all. But every one of your productions, all of them were a collective product, a triumph of the purposeful organisation of large numbers (and, initially, Mummy and Daddy's address book). And yet those stage hands, those musicians, those actors and backing dancers, they who laboured to bring your projects to life, all were utterly indispensable to your success. Wherever your shows go in Britain, people like these, who see very little of the revenues they generate for you, might be able to work for you because of the indirect subsidy tax credits provide. You make the profits. And you get away with paying lower than market rates in wages. By flying in especially to try and kick working people further, you not only show yourself up as an especially loathsome human being, but someone who despises his own workforce as well.

I doubt a single word of this screed will pass beneath your eyeballs. Not that I expect you to change your mind if it did. You are a dyed-in-the-wool poltroon, the sort who takes Britain for what they can get out of it without giving a damn about the people who live here. However, inexplicably, there are those who like your material. Some of them would have been destined to lose a chunk of their income had you and your cronies won the vote last night. If this wards one person off from buying your dreadfully derivative dirge again; then penning this letter was worth it.

Yours sincerely,



Anonymous said...

I could not agree more - his crimes against music are bad enough - but going out of his way to support of this tyrannous bill beggars belief.

Phil said...

Managed to tracked down ALB's statement here.

Tim said...

Totally agree and how nice if this character would just apologise for his conduct ....

asquith said...

What I would point out, questionable though this is, is that the system "masterminded" by Brown is pretty woeful itself. In my Citizens' Advice days we had no end of people being over- or underpaid and I'm sure a lot don't claim their full entitlement. You may not agree with what the government have done but you're going to have to come up with proposals of your own, in reality, rather than an everlasting Speenhamland.

Howbeit, about Andrew Lloyd Webber,