Thursday, May 26, 2011
Adele vs the left
I'm not a massive fan of Adele's version of 'Make You Feel My Love'. As a Bob Dylan fan I might be biased towards his original but even so I'm a little put off hers by the needless, showy warbling that has infected female soul vocals since Whitney Houston and Mariah Carey.
That said I like Adele. She has become as phenomenally successful as she has, unlike most of the anonymous model/singer/presenters you see on TV these days, based purely on her considerable talent.
To her talent you can now add guts. The music business and art industry more generally has long been full of left wingers. Considering that, among these left wingers, anyone who doesn't think that taxes should be ramped up indefinitely to continue paying for a massive and horrendously inefficient government sector is considered the worst kind of obscene fascist (taste and perspective are rarely found on that end of the political spectrum), it takes guts to come out as one of the majority of Brits who support fiscal sanity.
That is what Adele has just done. Predictably, the dogs were soon on her. Her twitter feed featured someone called plasmatron saying "That quote from Adele moaning about her tax bill and slagging off public schools has really p***ed me off" and an obviously unpleasant character called nicklibertine tweeting "Got my paycheque today. Looking at the amount I take home after tax and national insurance is just depressing. F**k you, Adele"
Just as predictably, where the Dave Sparts huddled round the keyboard brazier of the twittersphere led the Guardian soon followed. An anonymous blogger at the Guardian, an increasingly desperate and hypocritical rag which squeals about tax avoidance while being a notable culprit, set about Fisking Adele's remarks.
"Most state schools are shit" Adele claimed. Not true, said the Guardian, pointing out that "according to the most recent Ofsted report for the UK, 'Just over two thirds of schools at their most recent inspection were providing a good or better education for their pupils. Pupils' behaviour was good or outstanding in 86% of schools'"
Except that's not the full picture. The Programme for International Student Assessment compares students from a range of countries. In 2000 the UK ranked 7th in reading, 8th in maths and 4th in science. By 2008 we had slumped to 17th in reading, 24th in maths and 14th in science.
"Trains are always late" Adele charges, to which the Guardian replies "What does that matter when you don't use them? And they're not anyway"
The first point is ridiculous. Adele pays alot more money to the government than most people, several times more than she gets no doubt, and is as entitled to an opinion on it as anyone else.
As for the second point, would this be the same Guardian that claimed that "Train delays cost passengers £1bn"? Seems to be.
"I use the NHS" Adele continues, to which the Guardian response is "Keep paying your taxes then or it'll be gone". This is witless. Over the last ten years, according to a House of Commons report, spending on the NHS increased from £60 billion per year to £102 billion. And what did this vast infusion of cash actually achieve? Productivity actually declined.
So the Guardian is wrong and Adele is right. Lots of the money she pays in tax towards the NHS is wasted, she has every right to point this out and suggesting that the NHS will vanish if this insane spending continues is hysterical garbage.
The Guardian rounds off by criticising Adele's remark that "When I got my tax bill in, I was ready to go and buy a gun and randomly open fire". Well, I'm sure we could all agree with that. But it goes on to say "it's still upsetting to hear this musician I admire seems as greedy as the most moat-friendly, port-stained Tory grandee"
Is it? The economy and how to deal with our incredible deficit is the central question in British politics today. Do we ignore the deficit and hope it goes away as Labour would propose? Do we deal with it with all taxes and no spending cuts, raising the basic rate of income tax to 45p as the trade unions would like?
The people who benefit from the governments torrent of fiscal largesse have been very vocal in trying to protect themselves and the Guardian has refused to condemn them for behaviour every bit as self interested as Adele's. This is just traditional left wing hypocrisy. But a question has to be asked; why is it that in the debate about our nation's finances we are only allowed to hear from the people who receive the money and not the people who pay it?