In declaring ticket touting as a fine example of free market entrepreneurialism, something which is empowering for business oriented go-getters and which therefore enriches wider society because it is creating jobs for middle-men, Sajid Javid has demonstrated that he is an out of touch fool who fails to understand the way in which ticket touting is ruining the live entertainment industry, and he has demonstrated that he is unfit to be the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport.
The Conservative government has spent the past few years gleefully sacrificing the arts at the altar of austerity, failing to recognise that there is more to a state’s happiness and wellbeing than the cold statistics which summarise its economic performance. Whether in shortfalls in research funding for the humanities, in failing to support local theatres and arts outreach projects or for allowing smaller live music venues to disappear and be replaced by larger, corporate venues, the government’s approach to the arts has been found wanting, and Javid’s latest outburst only underscores this.
Ticket touting often leads to tickets with a face value of £20 being sold for upwards of £150 if they are for general entry into the standing area of a reasonably recognised act, 100 per cent of this mark-up then goes into the pocket of the tout with none going to the artist whose work is associated with this value or to the venue which is putting on the event.
The sheer scale of the practice is what makes it distinct from the individual entrepreneurialism which some might admire, certain online ticketing vendors employ people solely for the purpose of snapping up hundreds of tickets to high-demand events as soon as they are released onto the market with the explicit intent of selling them on to third parties with an astronomical price hike.
As a result, an event will sell out far sooner than it would do under normal market conditions and fans with a genuine intention of attending the event are unable to go unless they are willing to fork out for these overpriced tickets on the secondary market.
Sajid Javid, in his position as Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport should be concerned with safeguarding the accessibility of live entertainment, not increasing the profit margins of corporations which do nothing other than leach off the talent of others.
This is not simply a case of the “chattering middle-classes” being deprived of cheap tickets to the ballet, because of profit fetishism coming before basic human decency the price of entry to anything, from an FA cup draw where a small local team are playing premier league giants through to a small punk gig might, as if an occult hand had deviously rearranged the digits on the price tag, leap up in cost.
If nothing else, the current government should be very well aware of the dangers of arrogant speculators who have no interest in the commodity they are pedalling, only the profit it brings.
The fact that Sajid Javid does not recognise that his stance on ticket touting is symptomatic of a wider, toxic culture of care-free deregulation and speculation which wreaked havoc on the global financial markets is deeply worrying – particularly as he has been earmarked as a future Conservative heavyweight.