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There Ought not to be One Law for the Rich and Another for the Poor which Is the Case To-day: The Labour Party, Lotteries, Gaming, Gambling and Bingo, c. 1900-1960s

Laybourn, Keith (2008) There Ought not to be One Law for the Rich and Another for the Poor which Is the Case To-day: The Labour Party, Lotteries, Gaming, Gambling and Bingo, c. 1900-1960s. History, 93 (310). pp. 201-223. ISSN 0018-2648

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This article examines the way in which the Labour Party moved from a position of outright opposition to gambling and gaming towards one of relative toleration and acceptance. This sea change began seriously in 1931 when many of the early Labour MPs, who were influenced by the anti-gambling sentiments of the Nonconformists and the Free Churches, lost their seats in the general election. The changing attitude to gambling was further fuelled by a sense of outrage at the evident bias of the existing gaming and gambling legislation against the working classes but also by the increasing dependence of the Constituency Labour Parties on lotteries and gaming as a vital source of income for paying for their full-time agents. In the end, the Labour Party had to accept that gambling was both a political expedient for the financial well-being of the Labour Party political machine and also an endemic feature of the life of its working-class supporters.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: history; rich poor; Labour Party; lotteries gaming gambling bingo;
Subjects: J Political Science > JN Political institutions (Europe) > JN101 Great Britain
J Political Science > JA Political science (General)
D History General and Old World > DA Great Britain
Schools: School of Music, Humanities and Media
Related URLs:
References: David E. Martin, ‘The Instruments of the People? The Parliamentary Labour Party in 1906’, in Ideology and the Labour Movement, ed. David E. Martin and David Rubinstein (1979), pp. 131–2; K. D. Brown , ‘Non-conformity and the British Labour Movement: A Case Study’ , Journal of Social History , viii ( 1975 ), 111 – 20 . 2 See John Gulland, the NAGL Statement to the Royal Commission on Lotteries and Betting (1932–3), Minutes, 30 Sept. 1932. Much of this information can be found in the Library of the Society of Friends, Euston Road, London. 3 There are no dates to these pamphlets. Paul Gliddon , ‘Politics for Better or Worse: Political Nonconformity, the Gambling Dilemma and the North of England Newspaper Company, 1903–1914’ , History , lxxxviii ( 2002 ), 277 – 44 , provides information on the anti-gambling campaign noting that the Rowntree and Cadbury families bought newspapers and tried to control the tipster element but reinstated it when sales fell. See also Keith Laybourn, Working-Class Gambling in Britain c.1906–1960s (2007) [hereafter Laybourn, Working-Class Gambling], pp, 31–89. 4 David Dixon , ‘"Class Law": The Street Betting Act of 1906’ , International Journal of Sociology of Law , viii ( 1980 ), 101 – 28 . See also, David Dixon, From Prohibition to Regulation: Bookmaking, Anti-gambling and the Law (1991), p. 80. 5 National Archives, PREM 1/2004, 1953–1960 file, Report of Sir Charles Cunningham on the discussion with the prime minister, 23 Oct. 1959. 6 James Ramsay MacDonald, ‘Gambling and Citizenship’ [hereafter ‘Gambling and Citizenship’], in Betting and Gambling: A National Evil (1905), p. 63; Leicester Post, 11 May 1905. 7 Select Committee of the House of Lords, 1901–2, qq. 3195–16 and q. 3201. 8 Will Crooks, MP, Working Men and Gambling (n.d.), pp. 6–7. A new biography has recently appeared on Crooks by Paul Tyler entitled Labour's Lost Leader: Will Crooks: The Life and Politics of Will Crooks (2007). 9 National Archives, Home Office (HO) 45/10335/138041, letter from J. Hawke to H. Gladstone, 16 Feb. 1906. 10 HO45/10562/17064/5, letter from J. Hawke to the Home Office, 4 Jan. 1909. 11 See MacDonald, ‘Gambling and Citizenship’. 12 T. P. Ritzema, Decline and Fall: Shall England Share the Fall of Rome (1930), a 21-page pamphlet first published as articles in the Northern Daily Telegraph, Blackburn. 13 Parliamentary Debates, Commons, 1932, vol. 261, 2–19 Feb., cols. 879–80. 14 HO 45/16680 contains a copy of the Official Report of the Parliamentary Debates of the House of Commons for Friday 3 April 1936, in which col. 2238 records Lansbury's views and also his belief that gambling was leading young people to think that it was an alternative to ‘working in the ordinary way for their daily bread’. 15 Obviously, there are no accurate surveys on off-course ready-money gambling although the extent of it was always estimated to be high and forming a major portion of the £300 to £500 millions estimated by the Final Report of the Royal Commission on Lotteries and Betting (1932–3), Cmd. 4341. 16 Keith Laybourn, The Rise of Socialism in Britain (1997), pp. 96–7, indicates that the Labour Party's policy-making in the 1930s was dominated by the New Fabian Research Bureau (formed in 1931), the Trades Union Congress (TUC) Economic Committee (formed in 1932), and a small number of committees formed by the National Executive Committee. Although Hugh Dalton was responsible for much of the policy discussions, it was Ernest Bevin and Walter Citrine, of the TUC, who dominated the National Council of Labour which brought the representatives of the Labour Party , the PLP and the TUC together to determine the overall policy of the British Labour movement. 17 HO 45/14616 file deals, for instance, with the legality of whist drives, and is dated 24 Aug. 1928. It contains the Home Office circulars to Chief Constables of 18 Dec. 1912, 30 Dec. 1920 and others on the need to ignore innocuous whist drives which were free from excess. 18 HO 45/24929, Memorandum to the home secretary, of about 20 Feb. 1932, outlining the early history and social dangers presented by the Irish Hospitals Sweepstake lottery. 19 Daily Herald, 3 March 1930. 20 The Times, 15 April 1931. 21 HO 45/14238, letter from J. R. Clynes to Sir William Jowitt, Attorney General. 22 Ibid., memorandum of February 1930 initialized by LSB which partly incorporated Middleton's letter. 23 HO 45/14239. 24 Huddersfield Daily Examiner, 16 March 1936 deals with the failed police prosecution of Irvin Hirst. Numerous cases, some with warnings to aristocratic ladies and prosecutions of others, appear in MEPOL 2/2297 in the National Archives. 25 The Hawke v Dunn case of 1897 saw the NAGL win a decision which made the Tattersall ring at race courses illegal. However, the Powell v. Kempton case later that year reversed the decision and indicated to the NAGL the impossibility of controlling middle-class betting. 26 Royal Commission on Lotteries and Betting (1932–3), Report, pp. 13–14. 27 Parliamentary Debates, Commons, 1906, vol. 162, col. 862. 28 Wray Vamplew, The Turf: A Social and Economic History of Horse Racing (1976), pp. 204–5. 29 Betting Log Book, covering the Salford area and particularly ‘South Division’, Greater Manchester Police Museum, Newton Police Station, Newton Street, Manchester. See Andrew Davies, Leisure, Gender and Poverty: Working-Class Culture in Salford 1900–1939 (1992), p. 145. 30 HO 45/10302/117059. 31 HO 45/20985 and Daily Mail, 29 June 1928; HO 45/20985; Daily Mail, 18 June 1927. 32 Parliamentary Debates, Commons, 1934, vol. 291, 18 June–6 July, cols. 1192–3. 33 HO 45/14222, letter of Winston Churchill to the home secretary, 13 Dec. 1927 and Daily Telegraph, 18 July 1928. 34 HO 45/15266, file on the Dog Racing (Local Option) Bill 1932–3. 35 HO 45/14222, letter of Winston Churchill, 13 Dec. 1927; Parliamentary Debates, Commons, 11 May 1928. 36 In 1932 the Shuttleworth v. Leeds Greyhound Racing Co. case had established that greyhound totalizators were legal, but this was overturned by the High Court after an appeal. This meant that on-course greyhound totalizators remained illegal until the 1934 Betting and Lotteries Act restored their legality. See Laybourn, Working-Class Gambling, pp. 176–7. 37 Parliamentary Debates, Commons, 27 June 1934, col. 1137. 38 Ibid., col. 1139. 39 Ibid., col. 1158. 40 Ibid., cols. 1158–9. 41 National Archives, CAB 23, Cabinet 1 (34), 16 Jan. 1934, Item 5. 42 CAB 23, Cabinet 8 (34), 7 March 1934. 43 Labour History Archive and Study Centre (LHASC), Manchester, LPNAD, Gaming Legislation 1934–81. 44 Ibid., letter from Claude Buscombe of Reading TC & LP, 26 May 1941. 45 Ibid. 46 Also recorded in the Report of the Royal Commission on Betting, Lotteries and Gaming (1949–1951) (HMSO, 1951), Cmd. 8190. 47 LHASC, LPNAD, letter from T. T. Windle, CBE, National Agent's Department to W. A. Beetham, 21 July 1947. 48 John Pinkerton, Lotteries and the Law, copy in TUC MSS 282/803/4 file at the Modern Records Centre, University of Warwick, and two copies in LPNAD file. 49 LHASC, LPNAD. Circular in Betting and Lotteries file 1947–1970, letter of Feb. 1948 sent by Arthur A. Johnson. 50 LHASC, LPNAD, Betting and Lotteries file 1947–1970. 51 Report of the Royal Commission on Betting, Lotteries and Gaming (1949–1951), Cmd. 8190, paras., 395, 112–13. 52 LHASC, LPNAD, Betting and Lotteries file 1947–1970, Local Labour Supporters’ Correspondence 1953–62. 53 Ibid., letter from Cliff Prothero to A. L. Williams, 16 Feb. 1954. 54 Ibid., letter from R. T. Roberts of the East Flintshire Labour Party to A. L. Williams, 2 March 1954. 55 Ibid., letter and additional content from Falmouth CLP, April 1954. 56 Ibid., letter from Taunton CLP to Labour Party, 28 April 1954. 57 Ibid., letter from J. W. Raisin of the London Labour Party. 58 Ibid., ‘Comments on Full-Time Agencies in the Yorkshire Region . . .’, 4 May 1954, sent by J. T. Anson and Betty Lockwood. 59 Ibid., letter from H. R. Underhill, Regional Organiser of the West Midlands Regional Office, 11 May 1954. 60 Letter from Norman Howard of Weybridge, Surrey, 4 Dec. 2006. 61 Parliamentary Debates, Commons, 1955–6, vol. 546, 25 Nov. 1955, col. 1804. 62 Ibid, col., 1805. 63 Ibid., 13 April 1956, vol. 551, col. 610. 64 Ibid., 25 Nov. 1955, vol. 546, col. 1839. 65 Ibid., 13 April 1956, vol. 551, cols 1847–1850. 66 Ibid., col. 1839. 67 LHASC, LPNAD, Ernest Davies statement, ‘The Small Lotteries and Gaming Bill’, Easter 1956. 68 HO 320/7, debates House of Lords, 26 April 1956. 69 LHASC, LPNAD, The Gaming and Small Lotteries Act, 1956, p. 2. 70 LHASC, LPNAD, Gaming Legislation, advice of P. J. Brennan and other Brennan correspondence 1956. 71 Strictly speaking, under the 1956 Act the income raised should have been used for charitable purposes, the public at large, and not for the members alone even though the Labour Party suggested that income would be so small that the CLP lotteries would be treated as charitable activities. 72 Modern Records Centre, University of Warwick, MSS 11/3/76/7–155, Coventry Borough Labour Party. 73 Daily Herald, 14 Sept. 1960; The Guardian, 15 Sept. 1960, The Club & Institute Journal, July 1961, p. 3. 74 LHASC, LPNAD, Gaming legislation 1934–1980, letter from Leif Mills, 6 Sept. 1961. 75 Ibid., letter from D. Kirsten, Walton Labour Party, 21 Sept. 1961 and letter from L. Jacques, 5 Aug. 1961. 76 Ibid., letter of L. Lovell, Howden CLP, to A. L.Williams, n.d. but early 1962. 77 Parliamentary Debates, House of Commons, vol. 613, 17 Nov. 1960, cols. 814, 842–3 and 910. 78 Ibid., col. 989. 79 Ibid., cols. 905, 1023 and 1111–14. 80 Ibid., col. 910. 81 Ibid., cols. 934, 1111–14. 82 The Backbench Diaries of Richard Crossman, ed. J. Morgan (1961) extends to nearly 1,100 pages. 83 Parliamentary Debates, House of Commons, vol. 613, 17 Nov. 1959, col. 806. 84 Ibid., col. 826.
Depositing User: Keith Laybourn
Date Deposited: 26 Nov 2008 12:40
Last Modified: 28 Aug 2021 10:38


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