Jeremy Hardy thinks… about entitlement

'Well might we muse upon the entitlement of a chancellor who, upon his father’s passing, will be titled'
February 2013

The prime minister bemoans what he observes among the poor as a sense of entitlement. In reality, it’s something most of us have but, in the mythology of government, it is at its most acute among workshy, dysfunctional people on benefits. Irritable Duncan Syndrome, the workhouses and pensions secretary, believes the link between labour and income has been severed in their minds by a dependency on the state, leaving them unappreciative of the respectable life of powerless exploitation available to them through the jobs market.

By turns, we on the left keenly observe the overweening hubris and self-assuredness of him and the other born‑to‑rule hoorays poncing about in Downing Street. There is no greater culture of entitlement to be witnessed. Well might we muse upon the entitlement of a chancellor who, upon his father’s passing, will be titled.

And we, for our part, believe unflinchingly in our right to stroll safely through well-paved streets, with as many state-educated children as we choose to produce, on our way to a free world music festival in our freshly-landscaped municipal park.

In our defence, we believe it should be an opportunity for all. We don’t believe in exclusive rights. Perhaps the strongest and most deluded sense of entitlement is the belief among the rich that they or their forebears acquired their wealth by hard graft and natural justice. Most deluded of all are the arrivistes, who believe their earnings are something they’ve actually earned.

It’s not work that makes you rich. It’s money.

Jeremy HardyJeremy Hardy is a comedian and writer who regularly appears on BBC Radio 4's The News Quiz and I'm Sorry I Haven't a Clue.


Now is the time for a progressive alliance

Kenny MacAskill of the Scottish National Party says that only a progressive alliance can deliver us from Tory rule

Don't believe the claims about Tower Hamlets – the devil is in the detail

Rabina Khan, cabinet member for housing in Tower Hamlets council, defends its record in the face of government-led attacks

guy wigmore 25 February 2013, 14.11

IDS is hardly a “born-to-rule hooray” – he went to a catholic secondary school, then Navy training college. His father was an RAF office and his mother was a dancer. It’s quite easy nowadays to look this stuff up.

Also, who is it you feel is “most deluded?” You can’t seem to make up your mind – is it the arrivistes or the rich who believe their forebears acquired their wealth through hard graft you dislike more?

By the way, I’m self-employed and in your opinion I am one of those poor deluded souls who believes that my earnings are something I’ve earned.

Stephen 26 February 2013, 23.26

Poor people good, rich people bad.

Isn’t there more to socialism than that?

greensalt 27 February 2013, 21.23

Dear, dear, it appears Jeremy Hardy has been ambushed by two ‘pedantry trolls’ who are hair-splitting on his obviously fair-minded and completely viable viewpoint that it is breathtakingly hypocritical that the very politicians who accuse the poor of a ‘sense of entitlement’ are themselves titled, or heirs to titles, and vast wealth too, born into entitlements.

Did Cameron or Osborne make their own fortunes through hard work? No: they both inherited their wealth. Therefore, they didn’t earn it through ‘hard graft’! And how did Cameron’s father secure his fortune? By being a stockbroker and spending his life siphoning off his money to offshore tax havens! Although, apparently, the PM and Chancellor both find tax avoidance and evasion ‘morally repugnant’.

As for IDS, relative to his mostly upper-class Etonian party, perhaps, he is from a slightly less auspicious background. However, it’s hardly an inauspicious one by any stretch: his father was an RAF Group Captain, his mother was a ballerina (as opposed to ‘dancer’), and IDS went to Sandhurst – the ‘Eton of the army’ – and became an officer in the Scots Guards (hence his intolerant, officious, militaristic and highly patronising approach to ‘debate’). He is also a distant relative (ironically) of socialist playwright George Bernard Shaw. Sadly though the only trait he has in common with Shaw is a hypothetical leaning towards eugenics. IDS is, in this sense, doing his level best currently as head of DWPoundland to wipe out poverty by wiping out the poor through the welfare caps.

Hardy’s dialectic here is crystal clear and absolutely right: those who are born into a culture of entitlement – the aristocracy – have the least moral right to accuse anyone else of having a sense of entitlement, least of all the poorest in society.

You will find that most wealth is accrued through speculation and investments, neither of which constitute by any definition ‘hard work’. Capitalism is all about getting rich quick through the least effort possible.

Gordon Wilson (mr) 13 March 2013, 15.26

Mr Hardy & greensalt are both correct (imho), as there is no proof needed , when all public forays by these puplic-frontmen/puppets in public discourse are into well controlled and auditioned dislay showcases like Questiontime etc.All Scripted!!.
All controlled ,these aren’t even showcases ( worth a toss ,as they say!), I assert, In other words , both , guy wigmore and stephen ,should both go and boil you’re collective heads!.

Eric 20 March 2013, 10.08

Great article. Now take them to task on the “work hard'” and “want to get on.” Rhetoric. Someone needs to ask them to define what they mean. That would really put the cat among the pigeons.

Comments are now closed on this article.

Red Pepper · 44-48 Shepherdess Walk, London N1 7JP · +44 (0)20 7324 5068 · office[at]
Advertise · Press · Donate
For subscriptions enquiries please email