MASTERING THE NUMBERS (1): Privilege, greed and security at the London Olympics
The Slog interrogates some of the more unseemly statistics of the 2012 London Olympic Games
After Clarkson’s somewhat superficial piece about Olympics ‘belly-achers’ in todays Times – well below his normal standards, and having an air of being rushed out to a brief – it might be useful to point up what we naysayers are bitching about: in terms of everything from the ‘Olympic ideal’ and a ‘people’s event’ right the way through to the slapdash planning – and commercialisation in the very worst sense of that word.
In the same issue of the newspaper whose Board formerly included Murdochs R and J (but doesn’t any longer) sits an exclusive interview with Newscorp commercial partner, Commons liar and tax avoider Jeremy *unt, who of course says it’s all tickerty-boo and dandy, on account of him being such a philanthropic Culcha Sektree. So let’s look at some of the figures undermining that claim to the point of complete subsidence:
1. Boris’s VIP lanes. I was walking along Southampton Row this afternoon, inspecting the disappeared bus lane and Rings-branded Zil lane that leads into Holborn – one of the main ‘going home’ thoroughfares for central London workers heading south over the river Thames. It is so obviously going to be gridlocked throughout the waking hours, I would urge all of you affected by this to take a camp-bed into the office tomorrow…or go on holiday.
Now we all want a smooth-running Olympics (if only) but note this stat: there will be slightly in excess of 50,000 VIPs at the London Games. That is almost twice the number – 28,000 – who attended the Beijing event. The total capacity of the Olympic Stadium is, I understand, 83,000. All those of us unable to find any ordinary UK citizen with a ticket to anything beyond synchronised wellie-throwing in Watford now know where all the tickets went…and why we need so many lanes for the incrowd who think putting the shot is something to do with eating grouse. The distinguished sports journalist Hugh Mcillvaney described this today as “a destructive assertion of privilege”.
2. Sponsorship, and the fascist insistence on only sponsored clothing/footwear being allowed anywhere within sight of 10,000 cameras. TV rights alone for this Olympics stand at £700million. Brand cops have been harrassing everyone from shopkeepers to T-shirt wearers for weeks, and will be patrolling in profusion throughout the events. These are not exactly ‘amateur’ Olympic Games, are they?
3. But that’s more than can be said for the security and spectator transport arangements. Lord Coe said three times – with increasing irritation – on Radio 4 last Thursday that “Games security has not been compromised”. But Danny Boyle begs to disagree, via The Slog’s continuing proximity to those around the opening ceremony’s director.
“That is simply a lie,” he tells my Mole, “the fact is that we’ve had to cut out 30 minutes [the BMX sequence] as a direct consequence of G4S staff either being unavailable or incompetent when it comes to checking spectator security”.
As a result, a late start to the £27m proceedings was deemed “a certainty” – and thus the lucky ticket-holders would’ve missed having public transport home. Sources close to the participants suggest that a cool £3.4m has thus been completely wasted, and large chunks of previously rehearsed maoeuvres dumped. I nearly wrote ‘unceremoniously’.
And Mossad would also beg to disagree about security being as tight as ever: they have drafted in (and demanded access for) some 150 extra agents inside the Olympic village. An attack by Iran-trained Muslim converts is deemed ‘a serious likelihood’. I shudderto think how the appointment of Mohammed Bari to the Locog Board is going to play if such an attack were to materialise. And the mind boggles at the consequences of it being proved that Lord Green’s HSBC launderedthe money that bankrolled the attack.
So listen up: let’s just all stop being such bloody whingers and killjoys and wreckers of this great ‘sporting’ event, and instead get behind the spirit of it all.
Openin’ ceremony tickets, anyone? Only five times face value. Get your openin’ ceremony bent VIP tickets ‘ere….
MASTERING THE NUMBERS (2): England’s greed and unpleasant land
Some arrows of desire for our Major Parties to consider
Average domestic gas bills doubled over the last five years to £1,345 per household. This was during a period when Slog sources in the energy business say the Earth was “awash with available gas supplies” and prices to suppliers had been “the lowest of the last decade”. So there you are then, Dan Hannan: no need for regulation, ooooh nooooonoonoonooonoo. British Gas profits up 25% YOY…hurrah for the shareholders!
Dysfunctional families cost the British taxpayer £8bn per annum. It says here in the Times. I’m surprised it’s that small actually, given that fully 27% of all UK adults do no work whatsoever, and feckless family fun doesn’t include the cost of either social workers in general or the DSS in particular. On top of this, you also have to add much, much more in terms of prison costs, drunken damage costs, consequent Court and CPS costs, graffiti-cleaning costs, shoplifter shrinkage costs, and almost any cost you can bring to mind.
Bad behaviour tolerated and sometimes encouraged by Labour and its army of Lefty teachers – plus a vocal minority of unionised idlers from 1950-1980 – played a significant part in the creation of appalling social behaviour. Bad behaviour is bloody expensive.
All pigeon-holing fanatics please note the even-handed criticism of all major Parties in those paragraphs.
And finally, in the HS2 ‘public enquiry’ ho-ho-hah-hah, 400 objections to this, easily the daftest idea yet to emerge from King Dave’s Knights of Uneven Playing Fields, were ‘mislaid’. I wonder if anyone outside the Rotund Fable of Camerlot believes that bollocks?