Described by detractors as “more of a long queue”, everybody had a good laugh at the poor turnout for the weekend’s Rally Against Debt. The fact that the event’s cheerleader-in-chief, Telegraph columnist Toby Young, snubbed the event to attend an exhibition about pirates instead was also cause for much amusement.

Perhaps less funny is the stench of hypocrisy. The exhibition in question is the reportedly excellent Pirates: The Captain Kidd Story at the Museum of London Docklands. So, while imploring others to attend an event calling for public spending to be thrown off a cliff, Toby Young was enjoying free preview tickets to be entertained by a charity which has received £18.9 million of public funding from the Greater London Authority in the last two years.

On-the-door tickets for the show, which is not yet open to the general public, are £7.00 and £5.00 for children. A member of the privileged media elite, Young got his for free. Appositely, the museum’s last accounts even identify spending cuts as a threat:

“The government may cut funding to the Arts/Heritage sector. The grant paid to the museum could be cut substantially.”

Supporting a pro-cuts event while filling his boots with taxpayer-funded tickets, Young has more in common with a pirate than he realises. Aaahhrr!

  1. I’d committed to take my four children to the Captain Kidd Exhibition before the Rally Against Debt was organised and I wasn’t going to disappoint them, regardless of how strongly I feel about the ned to reduce the deficit. I hoped to go to both but in the event that didn’t prove possible.

    It’s not spending taxpayers’ money on museums I object to. It’s spending it on servicing our massive national debt. £43 billion last year according to the ONS, the same as the defence budget. The Coalition is proposing to peg back public spending to above the level it was at in 08-09 so there’s no reason to think museums like the excellent Museum of London will cease to exist at the end of this Parliament.

    I’m not in favour of faster, deeper cuts. I think the Government have got the combination of cuts and tax rises about right, both politically and economically, and Labour’s historic loss in Scotland, its failure to win a majority in Wales and its inability to poll a higher share of the vote than the Conservatives in England two weeks ago suggests the public shares this view. (I don’t believe voters were taking out their anger about the cuts on the Lib Dems. If they were angry about the cuts, they would have punished the Tories.) I’m much more concerned about EU bail-outs. I don’t think the UK should run up even more debts by helping other countries pay off theirs.

  2. Fair play to Toby for posting in response!

    While we’re at it Toby – the pegging back to 08-09 levels – does that take into account inflation? I always presume it does but am never sure?

  3. Alice didn’t turn up, but neither did Toby Young. “All those who care about Britain’s future should attend the Rally Against Debt,” Toby.
    350 turned up, a few mad hatters and a white rabbit who talked -a lot .

  4. I’m sorry, Toby, but you cannot deny that you’re promoting an event which is calling for further cuts.

    As for the funding of museums, the facts speak for themselves. You have claimed that “museums are safe”. Does that apply to these?

    Are these jobs at the MOL “safe” too?

  5. Nothing that Young says, does or thinks is a surprise to anyone anymore.

    You are a vicious, odious, hypocritical little twerp who deserves derision.

    Your weasel-like little post above only demonstrates one thing.

    Your massive lack of self-insight.

  6. “It’s not spending taxpayers’ money on museums I object to. It’s spending it on servicing our massive national debt.”

    What is the debt spent on?

    To remove the interest payments, you must remove the debt, to remove the debt you must raise taxes and/or reduce expenditure (ie CUT).

    If you’re happy to spend on Musuems, and we know your happy to spend on Free Schools, how would you achieve your stated aim to stop servicing the debt?

  7. John Shepherd says:

    Of course museums like the Museum of London (MoL) will not cease to exist – it receives a substantial grant from the Greater London Authority and the City of London and will always be able to maintain a good public face. It has always been good at doing that. Problem is, in the past it was always good at doing many other things as well – behind the scenes things that added value to the visitor’s experience, in terms of curation, conservation, interpretation and research. When you visit the MoL now you get the current, cutting edge story of London. But Toby, you seem to be unaware of the problems that even the MoL faces. It is cutting expertise, cutting collections care, cutting decades of valuable curatorial skills and knowledge. Why? Probably because such skills have no perceived immediate value – i.e. they do not bring in the pounds sterling. A pound spent on a development officer might bring in a profit, a pound spent on a curator is now regarded as a loss.

    Translate such strategies to the smaller museums and then the problems exacerbate – to the extent that such museum’s are no longer active venues for community study, learning and shared experience neither are they places for community collections that are receiving the necessary care and attention for them to be passed on to future generations, as they have been cared for in the past and handed over to our generation. They end up as the dumping grounds for respective community’s collective memories and experiences – and they will decay and become lost in time. That, more than anything, is the disgrace that will be the responsibility of this Coalition.

    These cuts are being implemented by finance managers and managers who have a different set of priorities to the community at large. I am sure that many of them like a good play, a good concert and a good art or museum gallery, but the more I hear that the ‘cuts’ are the reason why these difficult decisions have to be made the more I wonder – what profit, then, to the community for our support for the current round of cuts? Why are plans not being put in place – pledges even (more good they seem to do these days) – that when the economy improves then funding of our museums and arts will return? I suspect, and many like me, believe that the cuts are being used as a smokescreen to rid the various funding bodies of what they now deem to be low priority, low value projects. Two decades of museum development, demonstrating their key role in the core of communities, has been swept away at a stroke by those advocating these cuts. Short-term gain will no doubt settle the books but the longer term damage to the museums, their collections and the value they had for communities will be severely damaged. But with short-term ideologies at play, this doesn’t seem to matter. The current five-year plan ignores the future, it makes no plans nor incentives for recovery. And by the time the collections are suffering, well, by then it will all be someone else’s problem.

  8. Yes, Alex Ross, it does. Projected public spending in 14-15 under the Coalition’s current plans is £648 billion in 09-10 pounds. In 08-09 it was £640 billion in 09-10 pounds. You can see the figures here:

    I don’t dispute that cuts are being made to public services and that savings will need to be made across the public sector, including taxpayer-subsidised museums, they’re just not as draconian as the Government’s political opponents claim. And, as we know, Labour would be making almost identical cuts if it had won the last election. At PMQs a few weeks ago, the PM said Labour would be cutting £7 for every £8 the Coalition is cutting, but the true figure is £11 for every £12. (IFS estimates that the Coalition’s cut to public services – not the same as public spending – will be 12% over the lifetime of this Parliament. Its analysis of the Darling plan is that Labour would have cut by 10.9% in the same period.)

    No cuts at all is not a serious option and to pretend otherwise is politically and economically infantile. Had the Government not taken steps to reduce the deficit, the UK would have been plunged into a sovereign debt crisis and had to go cap-in-hand to the EU for a bail-out. Under those circumstances, genuinely draconian cuts would have had to be imposed and institutions like the Museum of London would have struggled to survive.

  9. A country with crippling debts will end up being ruled by those who lent it the money. Ask Ireland, Portugal, Greece. Or any banker

    Give me control of a nations money supply, and I care not who makes it’s laws. Mater Amschel Rothschild, founder of the Rothschild banking dynasty.

  10. When posters start to attack the person, as opposed to the facts & figures, then I need say no more.

  11. Art Li. what facts are those then? Young and those like him on the right parrot the Tory apocalyptic doom mongering of May last year:

    “the UK would have been plunged into a sovereign debt crisis and had to go cap-in-hand to the EU for a bail-out.”

    It’s a pathetically flimsy fig leaf under which lies dogmatic ideology; the desire to roll back the frontiers of the state. Plain and simple.

  12. Chris Butler says:

    The Rally Against Debt was a cynical right wing celebration of the cuts to services. Thats why it fell flat. Ill advised and counter productive to this government and their programme. When is the next one? Soon I hope

  13. Tom. Facts & figures set out in Mr Young’s post at 1.30 pm above. Labour also has ideologies. All political parties have.

  14. Toby, one piece of rhetoric that won’t ever help you (or any other tribalists) is this: “And, as we know, Labour would be making almost identical cuts if it had won the last election”.

    We hear it all the time in Parliament, on Any Questions, on QT, and it’s pointless. It presupposes that all critics of the current government are therefore Labour supporters, that the only possible counter-argument to your own is the official Labour line, and that by stating it you somehow strengthen your own position, which, frankly, you don’t.

  15. I think it’s telling that the very people who support cuts to our welfare state are those who don’t actually use its essential services. It’s not the likes of Toby Young or the Eton government boys who rely on the NHS, social services, unemployment benefit and the hundreds of other support services that are provided through our payment of taxes. Normal working people pay their share of tax and it should be spent on protecting and supporting us, not spent on generating profits for private enterprise. All countries have a debt and if it’s too big then the richest individuals and companies should contribute more to society, not take more away. Toby Young needs to step out of his protected middle class bubble and have a look at where our services are being delivered- is he prepared to tell families of disabled children they no longer have access to provision instead of taxing the wealthy? Selfish selfish man.

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