…well written, and much to agree with. But I can’t help but point out that feeling uneasy about wealthy foreigners with different beliefs and values “colonising” (mostly) London…is not significantly different in origin to people in much less wealthy and influential parts of the Country feeling uneasy about poor foreigners with different beliefs and values “colonising” (mostly) post-industrial towns and cities in the Midlands and North. But the first is apparently now virtuous…although I’m assuming the second remains hateful and “waycistttt!”
Just a thought to puzzle over…
This is one of those articles where the subject matter doesn’t interest me that much but I’m impressed by the quality of the writing. The same is true of Park Macdougald’s article on Kerouac in this edition of Unherd.
I sometimes wonder where Unherd is headed as a publication, and feel it has lost some of the sharp relevance it had back in 2020, but the quality of the articles is consistently high. I’m not sure why anyone becomes a journalist these days. There are so many talented people already in the profession and stable career paths are now so few.
As an aside, I cannot understand why there has been so little comment and criticism of what the UK and other European governments are doing in seizing/freezing the assets of the Russian billionaires.
Many of the Russian oligarchs are in effect Mafiosi lords, as are many others from other countries not least the blood and oil soaked Arab billionaires. However, seizing Russian individuals assets with the flourish of a ministers pen, without due process and law and a right to fair trial, is just plain wrong. If you do that you are absolutely no different from Putin, and in fact provide justification for Putin. The UK in particular should *not* be going anywhere near such behaviours.
Many of the Russian oligarchs are in effect Mafiosi lords
So what is wrong with seizing their assets? I would have thought that it was a good start; the government can then move on to the blood and oil soaked Arab billionaires.
The problem is not seizing their assets. The problem is seizing their assets without law and due process. The government needs to present proof in a court. If even a single one of them is legit, how would we know they haven’t got caught in sweep unfairly?
Doesn’t bother at all, especially if said ill-gotten gains are used to restore Ukrainia.
I don’t think your average British person is pleased at all about any of this but as usual we are sold out by our elites who are only too happy to stuff their pockets with dirty money- the House of Lords has I think done well out of the Russians.
It’s the hypocrisy of it all I can’t stand. And that goes for football fans too – see the recent purchase of Newcastle by a Saudi led consortium to see how willing the fans are to forgive despicable regimes if it gives them a chance to get their hands on some silverware.
All this seems incredibly remote yet tawdry seen from the rural parts of the UK. London is a different country, almost a different world, to most of us yet thinks it’s the centre of the universe.
It reminds me why having been born and brought up in London and having gone back there for a decade in the late 70s and 80s I left with no regrets and go back as infrequently as possible.
Basically, I care not whether London rebrands itself and goes back to sucking money from rich idiots.
Ditto why the Premier League holds little interest to me.
The British Empire was created by courting and flattering wealthy rulers, while slowly taking control. It’s a special London expertise.
From the 90s onwards, bankers in London, New York and Europe, helped create the oligarchs, funding their purchase of Soviet assets on the cheap, and then helped them launder and relocate their wealth. The same courting and flattery brought them and their money to the UK, to join the traffic jams of Middle Eastern-owned Ferraris and Rolls Royces cruising through Kensington.
Abramovich is Russian, rich and Jewish, Three strikes and you’re out.
Can we start naming and shaming the QCs and lawyers?
Should we do that? And perhaps also their doctors and dentists, the school teachers of oligarchs children, their interior decorators, gardeners, chefs?
To start naming minor individuals making a living by practising a perfectly legal craft , whatsoever it may be, is a very dangerous and slippery slope. In fact especially dangerous when it comes to the law as we are imposing the rule of mob rather than process.
Indeed. Call it sanctions sans frontieres….the worst of both worlds
How are you quite so certain that everything these “city professionals” did was legal ? Did they really check where the money came from as they are often obliged to do ?
Remember also that professionals like lawyers also have professional standards and ethics to maintain. So “being legal” is not always good enough.
At a US company I worked for, they talked about the “newspaper test” – “How would you feel if your behaviour were published in a newspaper ?”. I suggest this is a quite reasonable test to apply here and that “being legal” does not absolve individuals from personal and professional responsibilities and ethics.
So I strongly disagree with you.
I’ve worked in and with some of these firms. The tests are extremely stringent, and those very few who abuse those professional standards are quickly discovered in my experience. Which is not to say there aren’t a few greedy types who might try to get round the rules, but firms will boot them out fast – the financial and reputational penalties are too great to do anything other.
Oddly enough we too had a similar test to yours – “Would you feel comfortable if this were reported in the Sunday Times Business News?” It’s a good test
Are there not shades of branding here similar to how Jews were represented as cosmopolitan capital in Hitler’s Germany?
Speak for yourself, I never loved him. Switched my allegiance from Chelsea to Ipswich Town, it was that bad.
“He [Abramovich] bought a Kensington townhouse for 90 million pounds, then plotted grandiose subterranean extensions to it.”
Before asking British people to open their homes to Ukrainian refugees, could Boris Johnson’s government not have first commandeered the gigantic residences of Russian oligarchs in Londongrad and elsewhere to help house these people, and thereby set an example for the ‘little people’ to follow?
And not just London and not just Russian money. There is something peculiarly English about taking the moral high ground, long after the horse has bolted. Others may be entitled to view such behaviour as hypocritical, and rightly so. The ‘disease’ of the West appears to be that it will bloat itself on all manner of self-indulgence, and then pull the walls down on ourselves.n No wonder the East considers us ridiculous.
Capitalists will sell the rope used to hang them — old saying.
Good article..I do think that Francis Fukuyama’s idea, or as it became widely understood, led to a period where with Russia, and China, the West thought it had won, history had ended, and all we needed to do was *business* and trade with them and they would slowly become like us.
That attitude led to the very ‘relaxed’ set of judgements about both countries that only slowly even began change, as the article says, in the last decade or so.
The war in Ukraine has revealed the reality under the surface glitz of modern looking Moscow and the Oligarch’s parties that will probably require another multi year, if not multi decade, cold war to finally remove the lingering mentality of the USSR generations