29 March 2007

New Labour's Gambling Addiction 1997-2007

A roulette wheelMembers of the Government were this morning tearing up their scratchcards, throwing away their betting slips and cashing in their chips following the death of their addiction to gambling, which was shot down in its prime last night by a marauding gang of nonagenarians in ermine hoodies.

New Labour's Gambling Addiction was born in 1997, when Gordon Brown happened upon billions of discarded National Lottery scratchcards lodged in the nations coffers and found that, whatever lay behind the silver foil, they all came up as winners for the Treasury. Despite his reputation as a dour son of the manse, the Chancellor was unable to resist the temptation to see whether it was really possible to live the life of a professional gambler. Soon he was discovering gambling income in all sorts of places, whether from the high street bookmakers, the lottery, trackside betting or online poker.

With industry failing and the expansion of the service sector threatened by the inability of the populous to imbibe more than 16 supersize decaf lattecinos per capita a day without committing murder, or worse, releasing a new Robbie Williams CD, Mr Brown became convinced that the only way to bring home the bacon was to don dark glasses, rechristen himself Snake Eyes and tour the gambling dens of Great Britain.

It was not long before the Chancellor had convinced the rest of the Government to follow his lead, though few achieved his success. Peter Mandelson gambled his reputation on the Millennium Dome's success, John Prescott gambled his marriage on not getting caught in flagrante with his secretary and Tony Blair gambled the nation's armed forces on Iraq.

Only Culture Secretary Tessa Jowell seemed to understand the Chancellors lessons. Soon she and the Chancellor were working as a team, he stacking the decks to ensure a substantial tax take, she diverting the National Lottery's income to replace government spending on National Health and the Olympics. So great was Ms Jowell's enthusiasm, indeed, that she set about weaning the whole nation onto the joys of gambling, bringing forward legislation to flood the country with casinos and supercasinos (understood to be just like ordinary casinos but larger and with a strange vulnerability to Kryptonite).

It was Ms Jowell's enthusiasm that was to prove her undoing. One night she was foolish enough to wander through one of Westminster's seedier areas (the Houses of Parliament), her pockets stuffed with the Governmental IOUs she hoped gambling would enable her to pay off. As she neared the door of the House of Lords, however, she was set upon by a large number of Peers either (a) outraged at the Government's plans to revive poverty-stricken areas by licensing casinos to take the last penny of every local inhabitant or (b) acting in the mistaken belief that the IOUs had something to do with loans for peerages. Whatever the case, the result was a fatal assault on the Government's Gambling Addiction.

New Labour's Gambling Addiction will be buried at St Noel's Church of the Deal or No Deal. The ceremony will be conducted by the Reverend John McCririck and the hymn will be number 5-to-3 on, "All Hail ye Little Lottery Balls".