Wednesday, May 24, 2006


There are many things I don’t understand about the policies of our labour government. I can say our, as though an alien of foreign nationality, I am a citizen of her majesty the queen, am resident and therefore have the franchise. Lucky me. I, however, have never voted labour.

I should say I was raised in a red red household. Both my parents where active participants in whichever was our local socialist party committee. A lot of those views I keep with me, though they’re tempered these days with a healthy dose of libertarian and free market ideals.

Regardless, I think myself as a logical fellow, and can hold up my side of a political argument down at the pub. Which leads me to my continual confusion over labour policy. Most of it just does not make sense. It has the frequent feel of pushing through half-baked ideas because someone publicly voiced them.

Take gambling (please (just take it away)). This government has sat over the greatest relaxation of gambling law in literally centuries. They have expanded the lottery (though I can half understand the Gordon Brown greed over non tax taxation revenue), have allowed free market lottery competition, relaxed telecoms laws to the point where any tom, dick or alexi can set up a telephone lottery scam (with almost no regulatory control I might add), and completely loosened the ability for pubs to drop gambling machinery into their premises.

Now we’ve got the selection process for the new casino’s going on. This morning I listed to an almost surreal piece on Radio 4 about it. The bemused consultant who was running the selection process was discussing it. This is the man who’s being paid to objectively choose which city gets the honour of allowing in such monstrosities. He talked about the fact that not one of the cities who was bidding had a British owned operator as their chosen partner to run said casino. He then went on about how they were weighing the then limited social benefit (given all profits would be patriated outside the country) of the MacJobs being created vs the potential high social cost (extra policing, drunkenness, higher rates of gambling addiction in the local populous).

It just doesn’t make sense. I mean, here is a government that at every chance shouts about how it is improving the lot of the poorest of society, yet it’s allowing a relaxation, even proliferation in one of the most harmful industries to the socially deprived. The statistics are stark. The vast majority of income from gambling comes from the poorest 1/3 of society. Gambling addiction rates are statistically (and significantly) higher amongst lower income brackets.

I don’t get it. If you do, please tell me.


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