CAMPAIGNS: What The Media Say - Dome is still a real thorn in Labour's side

Organisation: Millennium Dome

Organisation: Millennium Dome

Issue: sell-off

All hopes that the 'Curse of the Dome' (theherald.co.uk, 16/2) would be laid to rest with its closure were dashed last week as the Government announced its decision to strip Legacy of its preferred bidder status and re-open the sale to other parties.

Legacy CEO Robert Bourne said that he was 'surprised and disappointed' by the news, and accused the Government of wasting time and taxpayers' money (thescotsman.co.uk, 16/2).

Opposition spokespeople were quick to capitalise on the latest Dome-inspired Government embarrassment. Lib Dem Norman Baker noted 'It's a bit of a mess - to lose one preferred bidder is unfortunate, to lose two is careless' (itn.co.uk, 16/2), while shadow environment secretary Archie Norman claimed the episode epitomised 'a woeful story of incompetence and shabby dealing' (guardian.co.uk, 16/2).

The Sunday Telegraph encapsulated public opinion with 'The Dome, which Mr Blair once boasted would form the first paragraph of his re-election manifesto, has been a disaster for Labour' (18/2)

A clear supporter of the Government's decision was the irrepressible Dome supremo P-Y Gerbeau. 'This is a very gutsy decision for the Government to make and I am very proud of ministers' (Evening Standard, 15/2).

Gerbeau's commitment to the Dome made him a clear favourite among ministers and some of the press. One senior Government source commented that '(P-Y's) tireless enthusiasm make him the ideal candidate' (Sunday Express, 18/2). This view was backed by calls to 'Let P-Y have his day' from both the Daily Express (18/2) and The Guardian (19/2).

However, Gerbeau's bid for the Dome faced a new challenge last week as the BBC confirmed its interest in the sale, alongside partners such as Tussaud's, property developer Grosvenor Estates, and entertainment impresario Harvey Goldsmith. Orange-owned online news provider Ananova (16/2) asserted that 'The bid would (present) strong competition' to P-Y's offer, a view supported by The Guardian: 'BBC bid emerges as front-runner as Legacy drops out' (16/2).

What happens next remained unclear, although the Government's declaration that a quick resolution was unlikely ensured that the Dome will continue to be a thorn in Labour's side for some time yet.



Analysis and commentary by Echo Research. More information can be found at: www.echoResearch.com.



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