Auntie splashes our money around at Glastonbury

Quintus Slide ponders on why the BBC needed to send 407 people to cover the Glastonbury Festival.

I've still got a soft spot for the BBC, but it's disappearing fast. Why on earth did Auntie need to send 407 people to Glastonbury? You'd have thought a team of, well, 40 might be more than enough to capture the action, especially as owing to a series of disputes the BBC was limited in the amount of live music it could actually broadcast. But 407? Even the most sympathetic BBC fan must wonder who on earth sanctioned that.

Some overpaid executive, that's who one of those 27 BBC bosses who, as we learnt this week, earn more than the £195,000 a year our prime minister takes home. And why? The answer, one suspects, is that a lot of middle-ranking bureaucrats at the Corporation would rather be in Glastonbury than London, because it's more fun. Or, as The Telegraph put it, the BBC spent £1.5m not just to send dozens of presenters, producers, directors, technical crew and support staff to Glastonbury, but also to benefit a "clutch of senior executives who received free passes to attend in a 'work capacity'".

No wonder Mathew Elliott of the TaxPayers' Alliance thinks the festival has turned into an "annual jamboree for BBC employees". No wonder an incredulous Jerry Springer asked recently: "Why should the British people be forced to pay taxes for television?" Why indeed, especially if the Corporation's starstruck executives insist on "throwing our money around like confetti", as Carole Malone put it in the News of the World.

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"They have treated us (their paymasters) with the same kind of contempt politicians have. And they have spent our money in precisely the same way politicians did profligately and irresponsibly. How dare they use licence fees to buy a £100 bottle of Krug champagne for one of their big-name stars? How dare they spend £100 of our money on flowers for Jonathan Ross and £1,137 on a dinner for Terry Wogan?"

She's right. The sums may seem trifling compared with bankers' bonuses, but all these people earn huge salaries and can well afford their own flowers, booze and food.

Nothing wrong, in some cases, with the huge salaries. Take Jeremy Clarkson. He's worth every penny he's paid and indeed is self-financing Top Gear earns millions of pounds for the BBC in overseas sales.

But all those vastly overpaid middle-ranking executives? Get rid of half of them and we'd never notice the difference. And if the BBC can broadcast for thousands of hours from China with just 30 people, as it can, it surely doesn't need 407 of them to cover Glastonbury.

Britain's shrinking rich club

According to a study by Merrill Lynch, more than 130,000 people have lost their membership of Britain's rich club last year as recession shrank their fortunes.

There are now 362,000 dollar millionaires living here, a quarter less than in 2007. Globally, plunging house prices and equity markets have wiped nearly $8 trillion off the group's collective wealth. But no need to send out food parcels yet. Collectively, they're still worth $32.8 trillion.

Tabloid money thrifty Royals cost us less than half the price of a shandy

The growing view that MPs should have no outside interests is a dangerous one, says Ann Widdecombe in the Express. There'll be no doctors, dentists or lawyers, all of whom need to keep practising. There already aren't enough successful businessmen in the Commons, nor enough farmers. If told they must cut off all contact with their areas of expertise, succesful people simply won't bother to stand "and who could blame them"?

The government could learn a lesson or two about economy from the Royal Family, says The Sun. "The 83-year-old Queen is hardworking, devoted to public service and notoriously thrifty with taxpayers' money. The monarchy raises more in tourist revenue than we spend keeping them in castles, cars and corgis. Sure, there's the odd spending blip like the £250,000 to do up Princess Bea's university digs. But the Royals cost just 69p a head last year, less than half the price of a shandy all round. Now that's what we call value for money."

At last the ban on the sale of wonky bananas has been lifted, says Sue Carroll in the Mirror. Thanks to the reversal of an EU ruling, our supermarkets will again be free to stock curly cucumbers and misshapen carrots. "It's a concrete example of our drive to cut unnecessary red tape," says the EU Agriculture Commissioner. "What unbelievable arrogance. Brussels bureaucrats implement a ludicrous imperfectly shaped fruit ban then give themselves a pat on the back for lifting it." But don't get too excited about this outbreak of common sense. EC zealots "have come up with a new proposal to outlaw smoking outside pubs and offices. So hello knobbly carrots and farewell beer gardens. I give up."