The Olympic legacy - political football

Not long now before the Olympics will be an aching, distant £12bn memory

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George Osborne laughs off the boos at the Paralympics
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Jonathan Bracey Gibbon
On 10 September 2012 10:45

And so, we are told, a great summer of sport has come to an end. To those of us for whom the Olympics has failed to suspend our critical faculties, we might have waited to see whether, for the first time in 76 years, a British tennis player could win a Grand Slam tournament but, hey ho…

Of course we know the Olympics are finally over because the notion of a General Strike is battling with the idea that “the country should be run like the Olympics” to define the TUC conference.

With the expulsion of the Olympic flame, the unions are now let out of their box. Lord Coe has thanked the unions for their role in delivering the games. In return the unions are claiming it was them that won it.

Of course whether this fanciful view of running the country, even if in part, touches on the thorny issue of that budget overspend (four times, you may remember) is ignored. As is, conveniently, the vast private sector contribution from evil, cynical corporate giants.

The undeniably wild success of the Olympics and, even more so, its parallel sibling, has of course united the country in a – insert sentimental metaphor here. Danny Boyle’s opening ceremony excelled despite the bonkers NHS tribute and those critical knives were quickly sheathed over the empty seats during the first few days by the quick response to an entirely predicted scenario. Super Saturday and Mo Farah ensured they remained there.

However that sentimentality seems to have completely contained the cynical notion that this was the most politicised of games, and the booing of Theresa May and George Osborne suggests that extends to the audience.

Indeed the fact they cheered Gordon Brown almost betrayed some sort of BBC Question Time-style manipulated audience whereby armies of unionised teachers and public sector workers have bought into the potential (political) capital gain of the Games in just the same way as Acer, Atos, Coca Cola, Dow, GE and McDonalds, Omega, Panasonic, P&G, Samsung and Visa.

Of course, when the cuts really start to bite and our credit rating loses its AAA status, and the Coalition really starts to unravel as messes Barber, McCluskey, Serwotka and Crow fill our screens daily, and, more importantly, as the football season really kicks in, the Olympics will be an aching, distant £12bn memory. 

Jonathan Bracey-Gibbon is a freelance journalist who over the past 15 years has written for The Times, the Financial Times, The Sunday Times and Sunday Express

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