Well, I’d hoped that by now we would know for certain where the nation’s single “supercasino” was to be situated, but last night’s vote in the Lords means this whole malarkey is going to rumble on for a while yet. How very disappointing.
Should there be a supercasino? Should there be more than one? Where should they be placed? I don’t care. I’m more interested in the way my local TV news has tied itself up in knots over the issue.
Normally it would be pretty easy for the BBC’s North West Tonight, or Granada Reports. If it were London challenging Manchester’s award of the casino we would be hearing about the capital’s domination of all things in the country, and how the respected panel that initially chose Manchester had made the correct and legitimate decision. If Leeds had been awarded the casino in the first place then we would have heard nothing but criticism of both the Leeds bid and the process itself, along with endless propaganda pushing Blackpool’s case. Sadly, for the BBC and Granada, as both Blackpool and Manchester are in their region, they have had to tread a fine line and actually report fairly, no doubt leaving the Manchester Evening News and Blackpool Gazette to fill the vacuum.
What a pain. It must be one of the joys of working on a local news programme that, when in doubt, you can simply indulge in the purely parochial. Why bother to look into the rights and wrongs of all sorts of issues when you can just bang the drum for the local interest above and beyond any common sense? Who cares if somewhere outside your region has a better claim for government revenue or private investment; they are, by definition, outside your region, and therefore damned.
But my favourite quote on the casino matter came from MP Joan Humble. She was interviewed yesterday on News North West about how she would be voting in the Commons, and was then asked which way she thought the impending vote would go; to the latter question she replied that said she wasn’t sure and wouldn’t like to guess as she’s “not a betting person”. Not a betting person? Yet she thought she had the requisite knowledge on the subject of gambling to go and vote against the bill in the hope of favouring a Blackpool bid?
What was it, I wonder, within or without, that had persuaded her which way to vote? Was there a particularly clinching argument that made Blackpool the clear choice? Was is down to evidence that the panel had been negligent in some aspect when originally awarding Manchester the casino? Or was it simply because Joan Humble is the MP for Blackpool North and Fleetwood? I wouldn’t dream of speculating; but should she ever lose her seat, no doubt a career in local journalism beckons.
PostScript: Incidentally, I know you needn’t be a gambler to have have an opinion about if or where the casino should be built, and in favouring her local area Joan Humble only did that any MP would do. This isn’t really about her but about mindless local bias in general, in both the media and in politics. But to say you’re “not a betting person” in this context seemed a particularly unfortunate thing to say, and it caught my ear. Hence this post.