Alan Rusbridger’s swan song

6 December 2012

Look out for Steerpike in this week’s Spectator — here is a taster of what Alan Rusbridger has been up to:

Rending of raiment and gnashing of teeth at the Guardian. I’m told that the paper’s veteran editor, Alan Rusbridger, is tipped to take over at the Royal Opera House once the BBC’s director-general designate, Tony Hall, relinquishes control. Quite a wrench for Rusbridger, who has stewarded the profit-averse newspaper since 1995. Last year alone he amassed losses of £44 million, so he’ll be relieved to know that the Opera House comes with an annual subsidy of £28 million from the Arts Council. Rusbridger was coy when Steerpike asked him about making a move this week, though he denied having spoken to anyone at the Royal Opera House.

Fans of Rusbridger insist that he never intended to turn a profit at the Guardian, and that he has a deep personal contempt for wealth. Indeed, his salary fell to just £476,000 this year. Back in 2004, Rusbridger presented a slot on Radio 3 where he selected tunes from Marc Blitzstein’s socialist musical, The Cradle Will Rock. In the show, two artists deride the shallowness of a greedy steel boss. ‘There’s something so damn low about the rich/ They’re far-fetched. They’re just funny./ They’ve no impulse. No fine feeling. No great itch./ What have they got? Money.’

Rusbridger would have to keep these feelings to himself if he moved to Covent Garden. Cultivating billionaires is a key part of the job.

This and other tales can all be read in this week’s Steerpike column, available online here, or of course on our new iPhone app, which is free for one month.

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Show comments
  • rndtechnologies786

    Good blog.

  • rndtechnologies786

    Nice thought.

  • In2minds

    Just look at that picture, would you buy a newspaper from this man?

  • Curnonsky

    Agent Rusbridger, his job of destroying the Guardian nearly complete, moves on to his next target (and the whole time they thought he was a fellow socialist!).

  • Jim20

    Guardian staff excel at being two faced. I once had an interesting e-mail discussion with Larry Eliot, their financial writer and I think board member.
    I argued there was no way I would open a business in Britain because the tax was too high, he was arguing that a 50% tax rate on businesses would be fair.
    It’s quite sickening when you look at how the Guardian and its staff dodge tax, from property held in the Caribbean, too journalists being paid as if they were companies.
    They think the socialist elite is above taxation, I doubt they even bother to justify it. They need to pay no tax, so that they can feed their beautiful brains and selflessly guide us plebs to true communism.

  • Andrew Smith

    His friends wouldn’t want him to be unemployed after the cash runs out at his newspaper, would they? The nomenclatura look after their kind.

  • fitz fitzgerald

    We put on the Cradle will Rock at Christmas every year – its rather good, as the Old Vic revival showed … Have you been to Honolulu is a favorite …

  • fitz fitzgerald

    Presumably the intent is to scupper the Opera House via leftist helming : it might just work …

  • sir_graphus

    When will we see him as DG of the BBC?

    • loftytom

      Soon I hope, he would be the final nail in the coffin there too.

    • Old E10ian

      I know: why pussy-foot around with a buffer posting which fools nobody? his expertise in opera – or indeed successful management – being…?

  • kwestion.all

    I used to like reading the Guardian (though that was a long time ago). Will It now become more unequivocal in defending free-speech in a liberal democracy (no I’m not referring to to the Lib-Dems) and be unafraid to condem illiberal attitudes from other cultures? Not holding my breath.

  • C Cole

    I went to the cinema last night and before the main feature the audience were treated to the Guardian’s Three Little Pigs advert, which ended with a panel informing us that The Guardian is available in the following (tastefully italicised) formats: web, print, tablet, mobile.

    The question for Rubbisher and his legacy has to be this: how much longer will the Guardian (not forgetting the Observer, which is a much better paper) be available in a physical edition that brings in advertising revenue?

    (As a Kindle user, I’m aware that the Guardian and Observer are available in that format too. Shockingly, you actually have to pay for the privilege. A tenner a month, since you ask.)

    Here’s a prediction: if and when the Guardian ceases to be an actual newspape available to the entire population via their local newsagent, it will become an irrelevance. That is to say, even more of an irrelevance than it has already become under the malign aegis of Harry Potter’s dad.

    • Ridcully

      The loss of a great British publication; decade after decade of quality writing, appreciated by so many generations…
      I’m really going to miss The Dandy.

    • Andy

      ‘A tenner a month, since you ask’. Really ???? A fool and his money . . . .

      ‘When the Guardian ceases to be an actual newspaper . . .it will become an irrelevance’. I have news for you: it is already an irrelevance and has been for the past 20 years. Its circulation is only about 205000 a day and going down. Why bother to read the fascist rag ?

  • Lavern

    Its an utter disgrace what Rushbridger and board have done to the Guardian.
    Making 100 production journalists compulsory redundant – who’s going is to be announced on 24 Jan 2013, when he has topped up his pension no end of times, opened up the New York office…………relocation expenses and high salaries……for what.

    Millions sunk into a ‘free’ website…………..
    I say the quicker he goes the better, perhaps he will take Sheila Fitzsimmons with him…………

  • Mikis

    If his contempt for wealth is so deep, perhaps he could do the job for £20k p.a. I’m sure there are lots who would!

  • Reconstruct

    Under his editorship, the comments section of the Guardian has sunk into what one might call hate-journalism – depraved stuff which ought to have no place in a civilized society. I cannot imagine that it would be appropriate for the editor who did this to have a ‘second act’ courtesy of the Royal Opera. For Rusbridger, silence would be best.

  • David Davis

    It’s interesting, how Lefties, (which is to say: those who lean more to a collectivist view of how civilisation ought to be organised – by the edicated classes – for other people, rather than an individualist outlook) all seem to be drawn to opera. I have, for decades, noticed this among friends and relations who are what they themselves would call “social democrats”. Also – dare it be said – among “Christian Socialists” – although that latter state is completely tautological as we all know. I can’t somehow imagine Jesus Christ quite bringing Himself to endorse Blair or Stalin or Hitler or Cameron or Pol Pot, but perhaps it’s just me that “lacks perception”.

    In “The Opera”, is it that, since you can’t distinguish clearly – or at all – what the actroids are saying when they whine and howl and musically-orate, this condition suits the mindset of a GramscoFabiaNazi politician? Is that how they get to do what they like afterwards, because they insist “there was public consultation”…?

    On one particular occasion, many years ago with a “party for the opera” organised by the family of my first wife, other guests in the party audibly sneered at me, for being “uneducated, or he’d have known the libretto already…”

    I tried to look as if I was really really interested…I really did.

    Is “Opera” expensive to put on, and is the market small…? Is that the secret?

    • realfish

      Never mind, the under Rusbridger, the people’s opera will soon be in full swing. An early commission of the Thatcher years based on ‘The Damnation of Faust’ – is a certainty. Starring Owen Jones (castrato), Billy Bragg (dronato) and Polly Toynbee (hypocrato)

  • davidch

    and so the great and the good merry-go-round continues to turn !

    • Bluesman

      Be fair, that hair dye habit must cost a fortune.

  • trevor21

    Overjoyed to hear he may be leaving the graun. Perhaps the paper might now stop its slavish support for the limp-dims.

    • David Davis

      I think you’ll be disappointed.

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