Bernard Ingham: There’s an epidemic of greed in a nation that needs leadership

Scotland's First Minister Nicola Sturgeon.
Scotland's First Minister Nicola Sturgeon.
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A VISITOR from outer space would readily identify Britain’s serious current deficiency. It is leadership. It is missing everywhere – in local and national politics, industry and commerce, the universities, the NHS, the BBC, the police and, of course, football.

With an epidemic on our hands, we shall soon be out on our feet rather than a resurgent post-Brexit Britain.

Theresa May and Philip Hammond

Theresa May and Philip Hammond

After two years exactly of Labour leadership, Jeremy Corbyn is a sick joke. He is programmed only to go hard Left, brazenly u-turning en route whether over the EU or university fees. He dances only to Momentum’s totalitarian tune.

Nicola Sturgeon, the Scottish Nationalist leader, gets dafter by the day. Now she is examining a national living wage for everyone north of the border, regardless of Scotland’s £15bn budget deficit and the disincentive of handouts to work.

As for Theresa May, she floats on a sea of trouble because she is not giving her carnivorous activists blue-blooded meat and their opponents’ entrails.

Yet the Prime Minister remains true to herself in promising to let some light into the pay of the top brass, even though some in her party claim that this makes her anti-business. In fact, she shows more concern for the people than those who think that unbridled capitalism is wonderful.

It is, of course, worrying that the Archbishop of Canterbury apparently agrees with Mrs May since he claims that capitalism is not serving the people. He might be a better leader if he concentrated on the haemorrhage of Anglican worshippers instead of politics.

He misreads Mrs May. She does not have a problem with capitalism – the best route to human prosperity yet devised by man – but capitalists and those public servants who climb on the brass-dispensing bandwagon.

Executive remuneration is now so out of hand that shareholders are revolting against the pay, perks and pensions accumulated by altogether too many tycoons coveting yachts.

They remind me of the blind hypocrisy of top bosses in demanding tax cuts of Margaret Thatcher while seeking ever more government handouts

Their lack of leadership made her shudder when they were taking home probably 20 times the average wage.

As at this week’s TUC, the unions, in turn, argued that their members were entitled to a bit more when the gaffers were living in luxury.

All this might not be so bad if bosses’ avarice were not contagious. Top civil servants are now acquiring pension pots well in excess of £1m.

That disaster area, local government, pays starting allowances of around £10,000 a year to councillors, at a total 
cost per borough of at least £750,000 a year, while 
their executives live in well-cushioned ease and incompetence. My father was a councillor for nowt.

Hardly a day goes by without a council terrorising the people who pay their wages with edicts, backed by fines, for example 
over rubbish collection, prying 
CCTV and interference with 
the school run, while bowing to the latest demands of the politically correct.

Talking of which, university vice-chancellors clearly know what to do with students’ £9,000 a year fees. Their salary packages are up to three times the Prime Minister’s £150,000, regardless of academic performance.

Worse still, some of them do nothing to confront our sensitive students with the harsh realities of life. They might suffer stress.

The poor things would even denude the nation of its statues of educational philanthropists because they did not conform to their norms.

University leaders argue, like well-heeled bosses everywhere and the BBC cosseting its celebrities, that they operate in an international market. If so, why are they not coining it in the USA? Have they no commitment to this country’s education or society?

The NHS is perhaps worse. Its managers have no compunction about retiring on a lavish pension only to be lucratively re-employed by another, or even the same, hospital group. Meanwhile, the Health Service pays out a king’s ransom in compensation for faulty treatment.

Chief constables would benefit from stopping wittering about cut-backs and impartially enforcing the law.

And in football’s cattle-market TV money is thrown about like confetti. Yet England are pretty pathetic on the field and McDonalds probably does more for grassroots soccer than the FA.

In 15 years they have supported a million players and volunteers, dispensed 250,000 kits and trained 30,000 new coaches. Ultimately the money to pay for this comes from the customer. So does the largesse to both private and public bosses.

They are shamelessly rooking us. Mrs May seeks justice for the consumer.