Forget the 'shareholder spring' hype: high pay is here to stay

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Opinion digest: Shareholder and debt revolts, France's first lady and graceful ageing

LAST UPDATED AT 11:04 ON Wed 9 May 2012

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THE BIG BUCKS WON'T STOP HERE
JEREMY WARNER ON THE 'SHAREHOLDER SPRING'
In the past week shareholder revolts have claimed three scalps, says Jeremy Warner in The Daily Telegraph: Aviva's Andrew Moss, Trinity Mirror newspaper head Sly Bailey and David Brennan of AstraZeneca. It's already being called "Britain's shareholder spring". What took them so long, you might ask? Open shareholder rebellion is partly a cyclical phenomenon. "When the economic tide retreats, it exposes the corporate wrecks that have lain hidden by more clement times." But mass contrition and a halving of salaries in the FTSE-100 seems a most unlikely end result of the present wave of protest. Nor does it seem likely that measures, such as making shareholder votes binding on remuneration committees, will make much of a difference. To have real traction, shareholders must actively take part in their companies' big decisions. But they won't, because they want to be free to sell the stock.

LETS CELEBRATE THE ANGRY FIRST LADY
GRACE DENT ON VALERIE TRIERWEILER
I'm smitten by the new Première Dame of France, says Grace Dent in The Independent. Francois Hollande's partner Valerie Trierweiler is "statuesque, self-accomplished and a strident feminist". She even Tweets - recently firing a verbal grenade at Paris Match for belittling her as 'François Hollande's Charming Asset'. As a feisty, educated, ambitious female, it was inevitable she'd be dubbed 'The Rottweiler'. But I hope the powers behind Hollande don't clip her wings. I want at least one First Lady to stay furious. "If Valerie is to be muzzled, please don't let it be before she visits Rome." Protocol advisers are already alarmed at the prospect of a twice-divorced woman accompanying a president she isn't even married to, to meet the Pope. I'd be tempted to tweet Pope Benny and the gang "to get their own bloody house in order with regards to sexual indiscretions" before they judge me – but then, I'm too furious to be a First Lady.

WE CAN'T AFFORD PUBLIC REVOLTS AGAINST DEBT
DANIEL FINKELSTEIN ON VOTER DEBT DENIAL
All over Europe, voters are refusing to pay the bills they and their fellow countrymen have incurred, says Daniel Finkelstein in The Times. There are some who want to put off the endgame for a few more years, hoping for "a softer landing". But the endgame will come, and it will only be addressed by countries earning more and spending less. There is no other solution. But persuading voters of this is difficult, and so far Europe's leaders are failing. The fall of one government after another is the result – and it threatens Europe's democracy and stability. British voters are no different. "At the last election no party felt able to level with them about how bad things were." The mission of this Government is to deal with the borrowing and somehow take voters with them. "There won't be time or political credit for anything else."

SHOULD WE BE BEARDS OR BARBERS?
ROWAN PELLING ON GRACEFUL AGEING
Actress Frances Barber is saving for a facelift, says Rowan Pelling in The Daily Telegraph. It's odd, because she has also declared she doesn't care about getting old and denounced A.A. Gill's jibes at Mary Beard's TV appearance. Barber's contradictory sentiments might be perplexing if they didn't mirror my own. "I don't mind about ageing" - I think Beard is "a goddess" - and I have laughter furrows. But "I couldn't put my hand on the family Bible and swear that I will never ever entertain any form of cosmetic enhancement". Ten years ago I may have accused Barber of being a hypocrite, but "my evangelical certainties on the issue have wobbled since I hit my forties". This inner conflict is hardly unique. There's barely a woman between the ages of 40 and 70 who doesn't experience some version of it. I'd love to "do a Beard", but "I reserve the right to do a volte-face". · 

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