Now 8 November 2018 | 16:51

Is an evening with Michelle Obama worth £70,000?

08 November 2018 16:51

In case you hadn’t heard, Michelle Obama is coming to the UK next week and, naturally, people are excited. This isn’t just a normal visit to London, you see – the country has gone into a frenzy because the Southbank Centre has offered ordinary, everyday people the chance to see her speak live at an event with Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie at the Royal Festival Hall. It’s a once in a lifetime opportunity, priced at £30 to £125 – and you get a free copy of Obama’s new book, Becoming. Compared to the £70 I forked out to see Mariah Carey half-arse a Christmas concert last December, it’s a pretty good deal. Or at least it was.

Tens of thousands of people patiently waited in a virtual queue to get tickets when they went on sale this morning, but since the Royal Festival Hall has a capacity of 2,900, most people were left disappointed. There was no need to worry though, ticket touts managed to scoop up a large portion of the tickets, and they were soon available on resale site Viagogo for prices ranging from £5,414 to £72,181. Someone alert David Dickinson; we’ve found the bargain of the century.

This is just the latest offence in a series of ticket scam controversies. Last year, tickets to the Pulitzer prize-winning musical Hamilton were being resold for up to £3,000, while tickets for Harry Potter & the Cursed Child went for almost £8,000 when the play first launched in 2016. It now seems that tickets to plays, concerts and talks from influential figures are reserved only for the lucky few who are willing to skip their commute to sit in an online queue, and the uber rich.

It’s no secret that wealth inequality is a big problem, with statistics predicting that by 2030 the world’s richest 1% will have hold over one third of the global economy. But something must be done to ensure that this doesn’t trickle down into the everyday. Yes, going to see the latest West End musical or Michelle Obama is a luxury, but that doesn’t mean that everyone doesn’t deserve to have those kinds of opportunities. Touts can only get away with selling tickets for extortionate prices if there are people who can afford it and are willing to pay. I’m sure Michelle wouldn’t want people to pay £72,181 to see her, so why are we letting it happen?