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Alan Rusbridger’s swan song

Look out for Steerpike in this week’s Spectator — here is a taster of what Alan Rusbridger has been up to:

Rending of raiment and gnashing of teeth at the Guardian. I’m told that the paper’s veteran editor, Alan Rusbridger, is tipped to take over at the Royal Opera House once the BBC’s director-general designate, Tony Hall, relinquishes control. Quite a wrench for Rusbridger, who has stewarded the profit-averse newspaper since 1995. Last year alone he amassed losses of £44 million, so he’ll be relieved to know that the Opera House comes with an annual subsidy of £28 million from the Arts Council. Rusbridger was coy when Steerpike asked him about making a move this week, though he denied having spoken to anyone at the Royal Opera House.

Fans of Rusbridger insist that he never intended to turn a profit at the Guardian, and that he has a deep personal contempt for wealth. Indeed, his salary fell to just £476,000 this year. Back in 2004, Rusbridger presented a slot on Radio 3 where he selected tunes from Marc Blitzstein’s socialist musical, The Cradle Will Rock. In the show, two artists deride the shallowness of a greedy steel boss. ‘There’s something so damn low about the rich/ They’re far-fetched. They’re just funny./ They’ve no impulse. No fine feeling. No great itch./ What have they got? Money.’

Rusbridger would have to keep these feelings to himself if he moved to Covent Garden. Cultivating billionaires is a key part of the job.

This and other tales can all be read in this week’s Steerpike column, available online here, or of course on our new iPhone app, which is free for one month.

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