25 July, 2012

Bread and Circuses

I know I have hardly mentioned it, and I want to assure readers that I am aware of a major sporting contest taking place in the UK. I don't want to seem like that judge who didn't know who the Beatles were (a popular beat combo, m'lud).

But I remember remarking at the outset that the bidding process was a good contest in which to come second and I harbour my resentment to this day. It's just that the organisers are saying there's nothing we can do to change matters, we've got the Olympics, so let's stop whingeing and make the best of it.

Which is fair enough. But I don't think critics should be silenced, so just for the record....

I resent the fact that this has turned into a commercialised kitsch-fest. Andrew Rawnsley in the Observer said said that 'It is like stepping into a dystopian future in which Britain is run by a military junta headed by Ronald MacDonald.' I expect only some of the stories are true, like inspectors banning bagels in the five-ring symbol, but there is without doubt an unnecessary degree of control over people's behaviour in the name of commercialisation. Life in Britain is cheap and crappy enough without this invasion of commercial gauleiters.

I resent, at the same time, that this is costing the British taxpayer upwards of £10 billion (some say £20 billion) despite the heavy handed use of sponsorship. If there's going to be plenty of sponsorship it should be costing us nothing. This absurd expenditure comes at a time when the Chancellor's, and the trade unions', view of savage cuts is shaving a few hundred thousand off welfare. I discount David Cameron's suggestion that when you factor in the gains from the Olympics we are making a profit as daft at best, dishonest at worst.

I resent the fact that this is making Britain 'a showcase to the world'. It is going to show up a lot more than we might wish. If the G4S security scandal showed us anything, it is that our civil servants are incapable of writing commercial contracts, because they are too sheltered from the grubby facts of life. Of course G4S shouldn't get their £57 million management fee when they have drastically underperformed, but they will get it unless it is written in the contract. Equally it seems obvious that to save money they held off on recruitment until the last minute and we didn't monitor them.

Another aspect which will be showcased is our trade unions, with border staff and tube drivers striking at the last minute, in the latter case even after we bribed them not to. It was known even seven years ago that there was a new breed of disruptive left-wing union leaders and that alone should have shouted that we weren't competent to run the games. Now anyone who was thinking of investing in Britain who has seen this 'showcase' will know what the place is like.

I resent the fact that no one has highlighted the constitutional element of having the army on the streets. This is something we have tried to avoid these 300-odd years.

I resent the fact that people have been forced to have missile batteries on top of their homes.

I resent the fact that some of the roads we have paid for will be taken from us and allotted to the IOC nomenklatura.

And I resent the corrupt, cosseted IOC themselves. In my view they should have been arrested as soon as they got off the plane.

Having said that, On With the Show!

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