In these tumultuous times, one aspect of our national life remains reassuringly the same what Jan Moir in the Daily Mail calls "the unedifying spectacle of disgustingly rich people debasing themselves by trying to get even richer". The details of former Pirelli calendar girl Christina Estrada's divorce battle with her billionaire Saudi sheikh ex-husband Walid Juffali may have passed you by, but unedifying is the word. Juffali has offered Estrada £37m. What she wants is £196m.
Among her demands is £62m to buy a house in London, £4.4m for a house in the country, a £600,000 fly-fund for private jets and a £1,000,000 a year clothes budget (to include 54 pairs of shoes). There are other items, too, including £50,000 a year for Christmas lunch. ("Whatever way you look at it," as Moir says, "that's a lot of chipolatas.")
Moir thinks Estrada's absurd demands "perfectly encapsulate" the gulf which divides the country in our post-Brexit world. On the one side are the privately educated metropolitan elites, "the left-leaning users of social media" now howling into the wind; on the other the disregarded and the downtrodden who live in underperforming towns and have little chance of hitching their wagons to passing billionaires. Estrada defended her claim for a vast settlement by insisting that she was standing up for women.
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"Good grief," says Moir. "Have the rich ever been scarier or more out of touch?" Yet her demands are typical of "a grasping new breed of super-rich wives" who want it all (with lots of expensive face cream on top) women like Tina Green, who "gleefully" inspected her new £100m yacht a few days ago, the third in the Greens' "armada of avariciousness". It is indeed extraordinary. Doing it for other women? I doubt either of them have ever, in Moir's words, had to "search for pound coins down the back of a sofa".
Soulless purveyors of false hope
"It is a mystery how the then chancellor, Gordon Brown, reconciled this with his conscience as a son of the Manse." Or maybe not such a mystery. The Treasury was hoping for huge revenues from the tax on betting, and it wasn't disappointed. Last year FOBTs made it £425m. But that doesn't compensate for the cost to society, says Lawson.
Gambling is now cited by more and more couples as a reason for the break up of their marriages. And FOBTs, "which enable punters to risk as much as £100 per spin every 20 seconds, are a particularly lethal trap for addicts". Perhaps when politicians stop arguing about Europe they might find time to address the issue.
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