When he spoke to the 1922 Committee on Wednesday, David Cameron told MPs that the Conservative attack on Labour must not involve fighting the party on its own territory. He named payday loans as one of the issues that Ed Miliband and co want to create an ‘evil Tories’ narrative on. But another one that Miliband is currently focusing on is fixed-odds betting terminals, or FOBTs. The Labour leader has announced today that a Labour government would give councils the power to ban or cut the number of FOBTs in their areas.
Visiting Kilburn today, Miliband said:
‘Currently there is almost nothing that can be done to stop the spread of FOBTs. Laws passed restricting betting shops to a maximum of four of these betting machines has meant more betting shops in clusters, sometimes open from 7.30am to 10pm at night.
‘The time has come to give local communities the right to pull the plug on these machines – the right to decide if they want their high streets to be the place for high-stakes, high-speed high-cost gambling.’
Now, there’s a good reason for not responding to niche concerns of the Left. It dilutes the Tory message. But the snag is that it hasn’t quite worked so far. The week of taking the rubbish out before the Autumn Statement involved a U-turn on payday loans, to which the Tories have largely applied their strategy of pretending nothing is happening. If the Conservatives are going to do the same with FOBTs (which have quite a scary name, don’t they?), then perhaps another week of taking the rubbish out will be needed in 2014 on these terminals too.
P.S. This is all about the politics of FOBTs. As for the policy itself, do read Christopher Snowdon’s blog for Coffee House.Tags: Conservatives, Ed Miliband, FOBTs, U-turn, UK politics