Thursday, July 12, 2007


Gordon Just Gets Better and Better

It was back on 30th January that we heard Manchester had 'won' the competition to host the first new 'super casino', a 5000 square metre 'temple' to gambling containing 1250 unlimited prize fruit machines. I worried back then that, in line with many studies of the effects of such casinos in the US and Australia, addiction, crime and misery for those least able to cope would be the result of this decision and regretted that it was the party to which I belonged which had sought to introduce such a monstrosity.

Yesterday, I was delighted to see our new PM be truer to his party's values than the man who argued for a nationwide chain of super-casinos, Tony Blair. As the son of a Scottish preacher, this should not be too surprising, though Brown had not vetoed the idea when it was in the formulation stage, so there was some concern it might actually be built. Graham Stringer, former Leader of the City council and now a Labour MP, was full of indignation on Channel 4 News last night but his assurances that the scheme had included special protection for addicts rang pretty thin. It was also clear that John Snow hated the idea of the casinos too and departed, perhaps too openly, from his usual objectivity to indicate such a bias.

Gordon has suggested that 'regeneration' would be a preferable route for Beswick's renaissance rather than gambling. Stringer huffed that it was an insult to suggest the council had not already considered every conceivable form of economic regeneration. But I would have thought Manchester now has a moral arm lock on the Brown to find some funding for east Manchester that was not available before his decision.

Stringer and co. did have some grounds for complaint that neither they nor the Cabinet had been consulted on the decision arrived at after a lengthy consultation process not to mention a hard fought competition with Blackpool. Gordon promised more 'open' government and a return to more traditional democratic processes and to the extent that this decision marked a departure from such a course, this decision was a little concerning. Of which more tomorrow.

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