I sometimes think it blindingly obvious that the ridiculous number of bookmakers sucking the cash out of our local economy have a serious detrimental effect on the state of the High Street. One of the reasons there are so many of these establishments is that in 2005 the Labour party passed a Gambling Act which makes it very very difficult for people to object, or for local politicians to make decisions regulating the activities of these firms.
[In neighbouring Haringey these issues have been taken more seriously than here in Waltham Forest. Here is David Lammy trying to do something to help people in Tottenham resist the take-over of their area by betting shops:]
The politician responsible for bringing about this ludicrous situation, a key architect of the casino economy, as it were, was Tessa Jowell MP. At the time of the legislation, some people objected on moral and social grounds, such as the Rt. Rev. Nigel McCullough, the Bishop of Manchester, who said: ‘we are seriously concerned about its social and moral effects.’ They were ignored. Ms Jowell has never had much time for the Christians it seems: in 2003, she decided that her departmental "Christmas" cards should avoid any reference to the Christmas story.
By the time of this pro-Gambling legislation, of course, the Labour Party was already very arrogant indeed and really not in a mood to listen to people saying things they didn't want to hear. We live with the results in our High Streets. Here in Walthamstow, you can navigate by bookies shops, what with Paddy Power, the Tote, Ladbrokes, Coral, William Hill, Joe Jennings, Metrobet etc all vying to rake in the punters hopes and cash.
Sadly, as well as this cancerous growth of betting shops, we also still have to live with Tessa Jowell's continued presence in our public life, and even suffer her presence in Walthamstow at the encouragement of our MP, Ms Stella Creasy. Ms Jowell is one of the political 'friends' of Stella Creasy who will be trying to hoover cash out of Labour Party members on Sunday 19 December in Walthamstow at 'a festive afternoon of fun and fundraising' for Labour. (The party that nearly bankrupted the country is itself very broke.)
There is no mention of the word Christmas in the advert for this serious event, though in a style that shows that Stella Creasy has learned nothing about the morality of the mixture of children with politics except to keep on encouraging it because of their 'pester power', facepainters will be on hand while party members have their wallets felt.
As well as failing to get into the real spirit of Christmas or properly supporting family values (whatever they are) except where they are of use in raising cash or votes, there will probably not be much mention at the event, I expect, of the long-running scandal surrounding Tessa Jowell's "estranged" husband, who was convicted of corruption in Italy. People often forget that she herself joined her husband in showing quite extra-ordinary behaviour in regard to her financial affairs. Thus it was that she paid off her mortgage (using sophisticated off-shore banking facilities) not once but three times - with money given to her husband by Berlusconi, as a reward for his lying for him in court. Earlier this year Italy’s highest court overturned the charges against Mr Mills on a technicality, because they occurred outside a ten-year statute of limitations.
[Updated 6 December 2010]