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Category: Conservatives

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Not cricket: Jacob Rees-Mogg criticised for World Cup comments

Brexiter says England beating New Zealand shows ‘we clearly don’t need Europe to win’ Jacob Rees-Mogg has been criticised for politicising England’s victory in the Cricket World Cup after writing on social media that “we clearly don’t need Europe to wi…

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Revealed: Lynton Crosby’s £5.5m offer to undermine 2022 Qatar World Cup

Tory strategist’s pitch detailed how CTF Partners would spread negative stories and press Fifa to ‘restart bidding process’Sir Lynton Crosby offered to work on a campaign to cancel the 2022 Qatar World Cup and get it awarded to another country in retur…

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Minister accused of ‘betraying promise’ to reduce FOBT stakes

Tory MPs and Labour press government on delay to fixed-odds betting terminals capThe government is facing significant pressure from Conservative MPs over its decision to delay implementing a planned reduction in the maximum stake on fixed-odds betting …

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Theresa May backs joint UK and Ireland bid to host 2030 World Cup

Prime minister says future bid would have full support after Labour backed it in JulyThe government has joined the Labour party in offering to support a joint bid from the UK and Ireland to host the 2030 World Cup.The football associations of England, …

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How cricket (almost) made me a Tory

My introduction to politics came through culture and sport: the left had the musicians, writers and film directors while the right had, er, the local cricket clubs

By Gary Naylor for the 99.94 Cricket Blog, part of the Guardian Sport Network

I was about to turn 16 when Mrs Thatcher came to power and was more interested in my exams later that month than what the Prime Minister planned to do, but that ambivalence was soon to change as I started reading the NME, listening to the Clash and the Jam and noticing that my city, Liverpool, was being hollowed out.

Over the previous winter I had seen the ugly side of the left in the strikes and the screaming headlines of the right’s propaganda sheets (then, as now, the Sun, the Express and the Mail) but this systematic evisceration of northern industry was of a different order. It was a class conflict led by a woman with her hands on the levers of the state and a will to use them.

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Hillsborough verdict a damning indictment of the British establishment | Letters

I was living in Sheffield in 1989, and bought a copy of the Sheffield Star’s special edition on the tragedy, published the following day, on Sunday 16 April, which I still have (After 27 years, justice, 27 April). Reading it again, in the context of the inquest verdicts, it is striking to note that the paper’s account of the disaster, written by local reporters in the hours following it, and based on eyewitness accounts, is virtually identical in its conclusions to that of the jury’s verdicts 27 years later. The front page explicitly states that “Liverpool fans were not to blame, but the victims.” It also describes the decision of Duckenfield (not named at that stage) to open the gate as “a moment of madness”, which “backfired in a catastrophe which brought about the biggest soccer tragedy in the history of the British game”. Harry Livermore, the lawyer who represented the Heysel stadium defendants, and who was at the game in a different stand, is quoted as saying that the tragedy “was entirely due to the inefficiency of Sheffield Wednesday FC for their lack of proper organisation, and the inefficiency of the Sheffield police. It may be hard luck that they are held responsible – but this again is a tragedy that should never have happened”.

It was crystal clear from the very outset what had happened and who was to blame. This makes the subsequent lies and cover-up, and the extent to which they were believed, even more damning. The perpetrators of those lies should be held to account just as surely as should those whose negligence and stupidity caused the disaster in the first place.
Isabella Stone
Matlock, Derbyshire

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Ruck over former MP Peter Fry’s rugby defence

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Ruck over former MP Peter Fry’s rugby defence

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State of England’s football facilities ‘a disgrace’, say Labour

• Shadow sports minister slams grass-roots funding
• Conservatives encourage Premier League clubs to cut prices
• Premier League ticket prices to top agenda amid TV rights bonanza

Labour has condemned as a disgrace the fact that England “lags so far behind other footballing nations in terms of facilities and numbers of coaches” given the “huge sums” that have flowed into the Premier League, while the Conservatives have called for cuts in ticket prices.

As part of a response from four major political parties to 10 questions submitted by the Football Supporters’ Federation and Supporters Direct before the election, the Conservative sports minister, Helen Grant, said she had spoken to the Premier League about introducing price cuts following the announcement of its £5.3bn domestic TV deal.

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State of England’s football facilities ‘a disgrace’, say Labour

• Shadow sports minister slams grass-roots funding
• Conservatives encourage Premier League clubs to cut prices
• Premier League ticket prices to top agenda amid TV rights bonanza

Labour has condemned as a disgrace the fact that England “lags so far behind other footballing nations in terms of facilities and numbers of coaches” given the “huge sums” that have flowed into the Premier League, while the Conservatives have called for cuts in ticket prices.

As part of a response from four major political parties to 10 questions submitted by the Football Supporters’ Federation and Supporters Direct before the election, the Conservative sports minister, Helen Grant, said she had spoken to the Premier League about introducing price cuts following the announcement of its £5.3bn domestic TV deal.

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Sol Campbell: ‘Are most footballers Tories? Hahaha! Probably’

He was the Spurs hero who joined arch rivals Arsenal, the team player who had few friends off the pitch: rarely has a footballer been as divisive as Sol Campbell. Now he’s campaigning for the Tories and hinting at running for London mayor. ‘I want to bring people together,’ he says Continue reading…




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Sol Campbell may run as Tory MP in Malcolm Rifkind seat

Former England star declines to rule out standing in Kensington, the London seat being vacated by peer embroiled in cash-for-access claims Continue reading…

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Sol Campbell may run as Tory MP in Malcolm Rifkind seat

Former England star declines to rule out standing in Kensington, the London seat being vacated by peer embroiled in cash-for-access claims Continue reading…

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Ruck over former MP Peter Fry’s rugby defence

The obituary of Sir Peter Fry (28 May) omitted to mention that he was among a small group of Conservative MPs who, along with Roy Hughes, the then Labour MP for Newport, mounted a last-ditch defence of rugby union’s “amateur” status when it was being exposed in parliament as a blatant attempt to prevent the playing of – even amateur – rugby league. When, in 1994, I introduced a bill to make it illegal for union to exclude those previously playing league, Fry was the only MP to table amendments to try and wreck the bill at committee stage. He was part of a handful of politicians defending union’s “amateurism” to the death, despite considerable evidence of longstanding professionalism in union before the code went open in 1995. The spread of league at both amateur and professional level since 1995 is testimony to the very significant past impact of union’s “amateur” regulations which Fry sought to defend.
David Hinchliffe
Labour MP for Wakefield, 1987-2005

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Forfeit Whelan’s donations over ‘antisemitic’ comments, says Labour

MP Karl Turner says £1.5m given to Tories by Wigan Athletic owner should be given to charity after his offensive remarks Continue reading…

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Sol Campbell ready to have a conversation with Conservative party

Ex-England defender believes he can secure the black vote Campbell: I am for getting people from my background to vote Campbell calls FA institutionally racist after captaincy snub Continue reading…

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Karren Brady to be made a Tory peer

Cameron to give football club boss and Apprentice star peerage amid speculation about possible candidacy for London mayor Continue reading…

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From the archive, 7 July 1988: Thatcher won’t back down on soccer ID cards

In an attempt to combat football hooliganism, the prime minister tells league clubs that she will introduce photo ID cards for travelling fansLegislation to impose a compulsory national membership scheme on all 92 Football League clubs is to be introdu…

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David Cameron: I want Boris Johnson back at Westminster

PM says he hopes the London mayor will run for parliament at the next election so he can be back ‘on the team’



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England’s poorest spend £13bn on gambling machines

Amount gambled on high-speed machines in deprived boroughs is double that staked in richest areas, report claims

Gambling map of England: get the data

More than £13bn was gambled on high-speed, high-stakes gambling machines by the poorest quarter of England’s population – double the amount staked in the richest areas, according to a study obtained by the Guardian.

The report, to be released next week in parliament, reveals that in the 55 most deprived boroughs of the country – overwhelmingly concentrated in northern cities and urban London – high streets were lined with 2,691 betting shops in which £13bn was gambled or staked on fixed-odds betting terminals (FOBTs) by punters, and £470m of that lost, last year.

By comparison, there were 1,258 bookmakers in shopping centres in the 115 richest districts, containing the same population – mainly in rural areas and urban commuter belts – where players staked £6.5bn, losing £231m, in the same 12 months.

The figures, produced by the Campaign for Fairer Gambling, appear to show that bookmakers have targeted the poorest areas with the highest unemployment, lowest income levels and higher crime rates. It is a charge the industry vigorously rejects, claiming that shops have clustered only where people are densely concentrated.

There also appears to have been a surge in the number of betting shops in high streets, as profitability from FOBTs offering casino games such as roulette has increased. In December 2013, data culled from local authority records shows 9,343 active betting shop premise licences – an increase of more than 280 licences over the official count by the gambling regulator nine months earlier.

The industry does acknowledge that the distribution of shops mapped by the campaigners is correct, and has hired the same company that did the work for the campaign to produce a similiar chart of Britain for ministers. However, the Association of British Bookmakers says the campaigners can only estimate from averages what the earnings are.

Neil Goulden, who chairs the ABB, said the industry found betting shops in richer areas were eight times more profitable than those in poorer areas. “So you cannot just use average figures to work on profits. Also in richer areas we see higher player participation. We do not target the poor. It is a question of where populations are.”

Critics say the machines are highly addictive and lead to crime and poverty but the gambling industry argues there is no hard evidence to back this claim. This week betting shops launched a new code of conduct to allow players to limit their betting.

About £2.5bn was dropped into the machines in the poorest boroughs, the campaign group’s report suggests, compared with £1.2bn in the richest. The staked or gambling figures are higher because of the way multiple bets are made drawing on winnings.

In the most deprived council – Liverpool – the study suggests £118m was inserted into 570 machines, leading to £636m in bets and the bookmakers taking £23m off punters. However, in the least deprived borough in England – Hampshire’s Hart district, voted consistently the UK’s most desirable place to live for quality of life – there are just seven betting shops, with an estimated two dozen machines.

Such is the concern in Liverpool that the council voted unaminously to be given powers to rein in the spread of bookmakers with the city calling for the ability for councillors to reduce the speed of play and bring down the maximum stake. Nick Small, who represents Liverpool city centre, said millions of pounds that should be used to pay rent or for food was being “sucked into the machines”.

He added: “Bookies are arriving all the time into prime retail locations. This is all driven for FOBTs. I have no doubt of it.We are seeing horrific reports of family breakdown caused by gambling debts, problems with loan sharks. We are pretty sure organised crime is using the machines to launder money. It’s out of control in a city like ours, where there are a lot of poorer people.”

The campaign says bookmakers, essentially five big firms which account for 92% of all high street betting shops, are addicted to the machines’ earning power. According to the analysis the 33,000 FOBTs across the UK produced gross profits of £1.6bn last year.

Such has been the focus on the machines that the industry regulator thinks that FOBTs current claim that there is a mathematical Return To Player (RTP) of 97.3% on roulette – suggesting that the player has a near 100% chance of winning – can be misunderstood.

As David Cameron acknowledged concerns about the machines last month, ministers said they would wait for the conclusion of research – funded by the gambling industry– before considering a reduction in the maximum stake on the machines. But a source who has discussed the matter with Conservative Central Office said the prime minister had put off any major decision until later this year.

What is clear is that bookmakers are more thinly spread in Tory constituencies. When the Guardian analysed the data, the constituencies of the coalition cabinet contained on average just 11 bookmakers, whereas Labour seats had 20. Cameron, Nick Clegg and George Osborne’s constituences together have fewer than half the number of bookies found in the Leeds Central constituency of Hilary Benn – which alone has 39 shops.

Benn said: “These figures show clearly that there is a problem of clustering in poorer areas which government ministers simply don’t get. Indeed, they have made matters worse by making it much easier for new betting shops to open up without having to apply for planning permission.”

“That’s why Labour will give communities the power in future to decide on each individual application so they can determine whether there are too many betting shops in a particular area. We will also give councils the ability to decide how many fixed odds betting terminals there can be in individual shops.”

The Department for Culture, Media and Sport said: “Problem gambling is a serious issue and we are determined to help tackle it. The new player protection code is a positive step in the right direction, but we think more could be done. We want there to be a competitive gambling sector but not at the expense of public protection.

“We are currently reviewing what measures, if any, are needed concerning planning and further protection for those most vulnerable and will report back in the spring.”

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