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The mean Lord Salisbury, heads the pageant and executes Gaby's

How the titular head of the Royal Pageant turns out to be a cold, mean landlord who trades on good will towards the Queen but closes the best Deli in London for a few more shillings

Anthony Barnett
Anthony Barnett
1 June 2012

This piece is part of our debate 'The Great British Summer'?

The Empire was built by cold, ruthless, perfidious men, civilised without and heartless within - having had the spirit of that vital organ surgically removed at their public schools to be replaced by a classical education. Are they an extinct breed? It seems not.

Gaze upon this man as he stares out at us from the Daily Telegraph. He is claiming the credit for the Royal Pageant and celebration of the Jubilee. He is Robert Michael James Gascoyne-Cecil, 7th Marquess of Salisbury.

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He is also the landlord of Gaby's, the finest deli in London. It is on the Charing Cross Road, in the heart of theatreland, and there is no better place to pop in and grab a salt beef sandwich, or a falafal and humous if you are a veggie, this side of New York. To declare an interest, I've eaten there for more than thirty years.

The Marquess, who has traded so much on the goodwill of so many to organise Sunday's celebration on the Thames, is quite indifferent to the desires of thousands who enjoy the casual quality of Gaby's. He is determined to close it down and have the site replaced by a conglomerate food chain that caters to tourists and disperses the unwashed.

A huge campaign of protest has been launched. Nearly four and a half thousand have joined the Save Gaby's facebook page. Nearly 7,500 of us have signed the petition (please add your name). There is a website here.

The cold-hearted landlord is indifferent. You don't get to inherit and keep the freehold on the centre of London except by being brutally indifferent to the desires of its guests and citizens.

Having been forced by the protests, including many stars and celebrities, to postpone the eviction, Salisbury has thought up a cunning and nasty plot that even his Elizabethan forebears would have winced at. Instead of granting Gaby a new lease so that he can invest in his business (the hand-dryer in the men's loo must be the slowest in Europe) he is offering a renewable one month lease or what is called a one month notice tenancy from September. Have a great British summer indeed.

The campaign is encouraging people to write to the humanity-challenged Lord himself: The Marquess of Salisbury, Hatfield House, Hatfield, Hertfordshire, AL9 5NQ

Sign the petition: save our Freedom of Information

The UK government is running a secretive unit inside Michael Gove’s Cabinet Office that’s accused of ‘blacklisting’ journalists and hiding ‘sensitive’ information from the public. Experts say they’re breaking the law – and it’s an assault on our right to know what our government is doing.

We’re not going to let it stand. We’re launching a legal battle – but we also need a huge public outcry, showing that thousands back our call for transparency. Will you add your name?

Who is bankrolling Britain's democracy? Which groups shape the stories we see in the press; which voices are silenced, and why? Sign up here to find out.

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