Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Call to throw touts in jail

We're still puzzled at the rage generated by the idea of ticket touting - if we didn't live in a society that has embraced capitalism and garlands people who sell things at a mark-up with awards and influence, we might expect that MPs would get upset by the idea of someone buying something with a finite supply and selling it on for more money. But, as we've said before, we can't see any real difference between a speculator in fine arts or shares and a ticket tout, we're bemused as to why it's only the touts who are the unacceptable face of capitalism.

The subject came up in the Commons today:

Some websites offered tickets for the new Take That tour for twice face value before they even went on sale, John Robertson MP told the House of Commons.

"Is it not time the government did something about this ticket touting and make sure the people that do it end up in jails?" he said.

In jails? What? You don't think that what with your Home Secretary already struggling to find room in the prisons it might be a little foolish to send people to chokey for trying to make a few quid on tickets?

Robertson is a bit of a down-the-line Blairite with some choice views - he believes, for example, that nuclear electricity generation creates no CO2 - how do they mine the raw materials, John: with spoons? And what about the role of kerosene in making yellowcake? - and it's hard to believe that ticket touting is one of the main concerns in the outer suburbs of Glasgow. Robertson supports ID cards, of course, so was probably thrilled when Glastonbury introduced a voluntary ID regime.

Lining up alongside him is Pete Wishart, who used to be in Runrig:
Pete Wishart MP, a former member of rock group Runrig, asked: "Why is it being left to the music industry to try and address this problem?

"Surely the government should be doing more to protect music fans from this touting."

Perhaps the music industry is left to "address the problem" because it's not really a problem and if the music industry wants to allocate tickets in a different way, nobody is stopping it.

Happily, it seems like the Twilight World of Tony Blair has no plans to do anything about this:
Creative Industries Minister Shaun Woodward responded that ticket touting was "a very serious issue" and the government was working with the industry and the public "to achieve a clampdown".

But calls for touting to be outlawed have been rebuffed. Mr Woodward said fans did not want the government to "over-intervene".

"Members of the public, where it is fair, want the facility to be able to sell on tickets themselves," he said.

"We condemn the practice where it's wrong but it's also important to get a grip on how proportionate this is because it is only a minority who do this - albeit a minority we condemn."

A wonderful piece of empty nothing, there - "we condemn it when it's wrong" is such a bland rhetorical device, it barely even counts as a device; and I'm far from clear what "getting a grip on how proportionate this is" means - does Woodward mean "how often it happens"?

Still, soon we'll all have papers we'll have to present: the crackdowns can come later.