Soon there will be fruit machines in the lobby of every courtroom in England and Wales. Three cherries wins you a paralegal; three pineapples a senior partner. Pull the handle and take your chance.

Well, all right – not really. But perhaps our facetiousness can be excused in a week that has seen Citizens Advice bureaux and law centres encouraged to bid for lottery cash in the face of brutal legal aid cuts. This might be the epitome of regressive politics. It is an incontrovertible fact that the lottery is played far more by the disadvantaged in our society – manual workers and the unemployed – than people in professional or supervisory roles. Thus it can be said, to rain on the parade somewhat, that in shelling out for the Olympics ‘ordinary people’ (we won’t call them plebs) paid for the nation’s bread and circuses.

There’s some sense in that. The Olympics is not something that should be paid for out of general taxation. But should justice fall into the same category?

To qualify, the independent advice sector has to be ‘more enterprising and business-minded’ we are told. Yet again we’re reminded of the fixation – nay fetish – common to the entire political class that all forms of human endeavour are inherently suspect unless they are predicated upon the principles of commerce. By this token we must also regard lottery players as entrepreneurs – speculating to accumulate.

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