AUGUST 11, 2003
Will the government bail out Silverstone?
There were reports over the weekend that the British Government is to pump millions of dollars into Silverstone to safeguard the future of the British Grand Prix. The stories suggested that the Department of Trade and Industry will announce the investment within the next two weeks, justifying that action because of the economic importance of the motor sport industry.
The government's support of Silverstone is bound to be controversial because of the links with Bernie Ecclestone who, five years ago, was at the center of a huge scandal over a donation to the Labour Party. The $1.5m donation was eventually given back to Ecclestone but the affair was a huge embarrassment to Prime Minister Tony Blair. To be seen to be helping Ecclestone again would be a risk he might not be willing to take, given that his popularity is currently plunging as a result of the suicide of civil servant David Kelly over the question of whether or not the threat of weapons in Iraq was exaggerated to help convince the British public to support the war.
According to a recent survey only 34% of the public believe Blair is in touch with the man on the street and two-thirds of the population thinks that he is too concerned with public relations and "spin". The survey revealed that 54% of the population are unhappy with the job Blair is doing and, perhaps most importantly, only 39% think that Blair is trustworthy.
It is not therefore a moment at which Blair will want to willingly add to his problems...
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