Downing Street spends £100,000 on artwork while Johnson prepares to slash benefits

Money, money, money: and once again, none of it belongs to Boris Johnson. But he and his ministers are likely to be the only ones benefiting from the new works of art his government has just bought instead of doing anything useful with the money.

Tory priorities:

Yes indeed: an organisation called the Government Art Collection fund has spent nearly £100,000 of our money on two sets of artwork, because boosting the amount of valuable art  available for Tory ministers’ enjoyment is more important to them than protecting the people of the UK.

A unnamed painting by Belfast-born artist Cathy Wilkes was purchased for £70,200. The 24×28 inch piece – bought from the Xavier Hufkens gallery in Brussels – is a washy blend of muted pink, turquoise and green “egg tempera on linen”.

Ew. No doubt it’s meant for a ‘select audience’.

A set of four black-and-white photo prints of vegetation and their shadows called ‘Ashen, Restless,’ by photographer Willie Doherty was bought for £18,775 – from the Kerlin Gallery in Dublin – to also go on display at 11 Downing Street.

Apparently some of the money came from “philanthropic donors” – to whom? To the government of the UK – whichever party leads it? Or to the Conservative Party? Who actually gets to possess these artworks?

Meanwhile, Tory prime minister Boris Johnson is getting ready to swipe £20 per week from Universal Credit claimants, while insulting NHS nurses with a derisory three per cent pay increase. The effect is predictable:

Hmm – good point, there. A quick glance at the BBC Politics web page shows a story about David Cameron getting millions of pounds from that company he lobbied the government about, four pieces about climate change, Dido Harding quitting NHS Improvement, and a campaign to save an alpaca.

At least it has been reported by the Independent and the Mirror. I wonder how many other papers have picked up on this, though.

The bottom line is that £100,000 is not a lot of money to split between millions of people who are in need.

But it isn’t the only money the Tories have splashed around on themselves while others go without.

It all reminds me of the situation in France under Louis XVI – justifying the uncomplimentary characterisation of Johnson’s wife as “Carrie Antoinette”.

To paraphrase the historical personality on which it is based, though, how much grass* do we have to eat before the people are pushed to revolution?

*Marie Antoinette was supposed to have said, “Let them eat cake,” in reference to the poor – but in fact she said, “Let them eat grass”. I’m happy to clear that up.

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2 thoughts on “Downing Street spends £100,000 on artwork while Johnson prepares to slash benefits

  1. evie_k_b

    Can you provide a reference for the ‘let them eat grass’ thing? A quick internet search should do it.
    I could spare you the trouble, however. She never said it. What actually happened was that when informed about a scarcity of bread for the population she was genuinely surprised and said to have asked, sincerely, something like ‘can they not eat brioche instead?’. Yes, Marie was certainly out of touch with the common folk, but she was not uncaring. Contrary to propaganda, Louis did order distribution of the royal grain reserves. He wasn’t deliberately starving the masses (The French Revolution contains a distinct whiff of conspiracy to it – another example of how disturbingly easy it is to manipulate people’s behaviour with lies, to the point of violence and murder – that’s the one, truly underlying problem with humanity).

    Obviously, the same cannot be said for the Tories (maybe you don’t need me to tell you that). They have no excuse for ignorance of people’s desperate situation. They simply have no empathy for them – as that excellent article about public schools quite rightly stated. Public schools – especially prep schools (where most of the damage is done) should be abolished forthwith, and the secondary public schools taken under state control and turned into centres of excellence for the brightest and best, regardless of income – this would solve everything, although it would take a generation to take effect. This was one of the major failings in Corbyn’s manifesto in my view (and remind me who was in charge of the education brief at that time?!).

    Anyway – I think it’s important to get history correct when referring to it.
    Most of what passes for ‘history’ (especially since the war – both in academia and in schools) is nothing but self-serving propaganda.

    Hopefully you don’t need me to tell you that one either, eh?

    1. Mike Sivier Post author

      I’m staggered – after doing some research – to read that you are right about M-A never saying “Let them eat grass”.

      However, it turns out that YOU are wrong too, and she never said “Let them eat cake” either.

      I agree that public schools are rotten, though.

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