Left on the sidelines

There’s been a welcome return, in recent weeks, for the excellent Philtheone blog, perhaps Blackpool’s best (unless you know better).

He’s come up with some real scoops and, on a few occasions, sailed a little too close to the wind. The opinions are steadfastly right wing (albeit heavily against the current Tory leadership of Blackpool Borough Council. But occasionally Phil – and more to the point, some of his fellow contributors – come out with some real nonsense.

Where to start with this swivel-eyed, crypto-fascist nonsense?

What poster True Blackpudlian are saying is that ordinary working people do not deserve the human right to organise as they see fit. Our unions are already among the most restricted in the world. Union members have a right to vote on whether their union has a political fund or not. If the union has a political fund, members have a right to opt out of contributing to it. What more restrictions do you need? Why should the ordinary working people who make up the trades unions not have the right to have paid professionals at the top of the organisation? After all, if they don’t like them or don’t think they’re up to the job, they can always vote them out. Could it be that the reason (some) trades unions oppose the cuts is because it is not in the interests of their members for their members jobs to be slashed?

If any institution in this country needs to be democratised it is big business and pension funds. They’re supposedly run in the interests of their shareholders, yet can you get rid of or call to account the trustees of your pension fund? Are they made to hold regular conferences at which all members can have their say on policies? Are they hecker’s like. So billions upon billions of pounds ‘belonging’ to ordinary working people is ‘managed’ by a tiny cabal of very wealthy people in shady corners of the City of London, based on whatever ‘relationship’ is ‘bought’ by this powerful yet shadowy elite.

And while we’re at it, how about shedding a little more light on other organisations which play a role in our political process yet fail to follow even the most basic rules of transparency, never mind democracy. Who pays for the Taxdodgers’ Alliance? Who elected its leaders or set it policies? While foreign-based billionaires can buy their way into the political process, ordinary working people are in a vice-like grip. And you want to make it worse. Shame on you.

A good way to bury bad news?

So Blackpool’s Council leader is trying to get resort casinos back on the agenda case of the coalition…. nice try Cllr Callow, but it’s not going to happen.

Firstly, was it not opposition from the Tories and the Lib Dems – or, at least, their proxies at The Mail and The Telegraph – (and some Labour backbenchers) that got the whole megacasino experiment torpedoed in the first place?

Secondly, is one of the big casino operators going to be interested in coming to Blackpool when they’ve just pumped billions into the fast-growing Macau market and newly-liberalised Singapore? Some may still think Britain is the centre of the world, but the truth is that the axis has tilted far eastwards. Laos, not Layton, is the new frontier for the gaming industry. And, at a time when ‘austerity’ is our watchword, that’s not going to change any time soon.

Thirdly, will parties comitted to free trade and, err, liberalism, really going to acquiesce to laws that give a tiny dot on the west coast exclusive rights to a new type of gambling, to the exclusion of the rest of the country?

The truth is it will never happen and Peter Callow, who I’ve alwayds had a lot of time for, must know it. Perhaps he and his town hall colleagues are more interested in shutting out this report from the Guardian. It suggests that top civil servants tried to block the sale of the Winter Gardens and Tower to the council on the grounds that it wasn’t a good deal. Most people had been pretty optimistic that the takeover would end up benefitting Blackpool. Are we so sure now?