A week is a long time in politics, as the achingly weary old cliché goes. But it’s no time at all in the history of the National Lottery, which is seventeen years old in November. And did you know, each and every week it raises an eye-watering £28 million for good causes? That’s around £3,000 a minute. Fifty quid a second. Night and day, day in and day out.
Sitting in traffic, waiting for the lights to change? Chances are that while you’ve been quietly fuming, the national Lottery has raised ten grand or so for sport, heritage, the arts and charities. That’s rather splendid, isn’t it? (Although absolutely no comfort, I admit, when the chap in front in the T reg Escort stalls and the light goes from green back to red without anyone actually having moved at all).
Boxer Amir Khan presents Dr Ben Darvill and Professor Dave Goulson (left-to-right) of the Bumblebee Conservation Trust with the trophy for the UK’s Best Environment Project at The National Lottery Awards 2010. Courtesy National Lottery Good Causes
Who wants to be a millionaire?
But it is good stuff, you know. And greatly to the credit of the government at the time that set it up, and all those that followed and, for the most part, maintained the principle that the good cause money should go to projects and ideas that would not, in the normal run of things, get public funding. Now everyone knows that the thought at the front of your mind when you buy your National Lottery ticket is the prospect of becoming a millionaire for the bare minimum of effort, but you’re also entitled to give yourself a pat on the back for all that money raised. What’s more, you can take that thought and actually vote in an online poll to choose the winners for this year’s National Lottery Awards. It’s easy to do, and a painless way of finding out a bit more about where the money goes. The word from the lottery people, by the way, is that voting in some of the seven categories is very tight indeed, so get in before the competition closes at noon on Monday.
Rather excitingly, the awards will be presented at a ceremony, ‘live’ on BBC1 on 5 November, with bells, whistles, celebrities and all the appropriate razzmatazz. It’s great that the BBC are giving it a prime slot, so do make it part of your Bonfire Night entertainment, if you get the chance.
Racing and betting
What else? Well, earlier in the week Charlie Brooks made a peppery and highly-entertaining contribution, through the pages of The Daily Telegraph, to the on-going tussle between the world of racing and the book-making fraternity for public sympathy. Mr Brooks has what the Civil Service liketo describe as ‘strong views, vigorously expressed’ and he’s perfectly entitled to express them. Me, I’m the government minister with responsibility for both sides in all this, so I’ll keep out but I must take issue with him on one thing. In amongst a passing swipe at the DCMS and its long-suffering staff, he accuses us all of having done nothing about ‘the scandal of unlicensed UK gaming operators taking money off British citizens’
Well, for the record, my civil servants and I have been doing rather a lot of work on this and, yes, we are going to do something about it, as we announced on 14 July. So actually it’s been rather more a case of ‘giddy-up’ than ‘whoa’ on this one, as I hope Charlie will in due course agree.
Racing photo by Jack Kendall on Flickr. Some rights reserved.