Fox (n): carnivore of genus vulpes; crafty person; scavenger; (vb) to confuse; -ed (adj): to be drunk.

Tuesday, 1 May 2012

What big bills you have.

DO YOU remember 2005?

It was the year Dubya won a second term, and Tony Blair a third. The Pope karked it, Hurricane Katrina killed 1,836 people, women in Kuwait finally got the vote, Saddam Hussein went on trial and a Danish newspaper published a cartoon of Mohammed, which didn't go down very well.

And it was the year that London won the Olympics.

It was going to cost about £2billion, which sounded like a lot even then. Two years later it was upped to about £9bn and a year after that the bottom fell out of the world financial markets.

This was of course no reason to scale back, and today the costs are around £12bn with a strong likelihood that with police, security and transport costs the final total will be nearer £24bn.

To put that into perspective that's 800million trips to the local leisure centre for a £3 swim. It's 240 hospitals, roughly, or 20m nurses on a starting salary of £12,000.

Alternatively you could spend it on 11m new immigration officers on £22,000 to tackle the two hour queues at Heathrow - and yes, we pay more to those who keep people out of the country than we do to people who keep us alive.

It's more money than the total transport budget for the United Kingdom.


It's half the total education budget; and one fifth of the cost of the ENTIRE NHS.

It is, basically, a shed load of money to spend just so that Seb Coe something to do.

It's going to do lots of good things, of course - new transport links, lots of athletes fulfilling a lifetime ambition, world stage, blah blah. But it's also giving us surface-to-air missile sites in the East End, a reason for Boris Johnson to get over-excited and a tempting target for any fanatic with a chemistry book.

None of this was mentioned in 2005. Then it was all property prices, David Beckham in a suit and 10-year-old children saying they wanted to win a gold medal.

Some of those children have strived every day since then, getting up to train while most of us were still asleep, because they've never forgotten the thought of how amazing that would be.

There are lots of things about the games that could be great. But there's no reason you can't do it a bit cheaper, just like we did in 1948 when we were even more broke than we are now.

It's not cheaper if you have it in 30-odd venues around the country which each need policing 24 hours a day. It's not cheaper if you lay on five-star accommodation for athletes who'll spend most of their time not sleeping, BMWs for visiting dignitaries when you've made the transport system so swizzy, or £40m on an opening ceremony when you could just screen a bit of Chariots of Fire, set off fireworks and hand round some lager. It's not cheaper with £300,000 sculptures, cable cars across the Thames between two bits of London that aren't very nice, or corporate sponsors who stop people taking their homemade sandwiches in.

Now we're only three months away I think the organisers are finally starting to realise this too. That, presumably, is why they're charging the 'lucky few' who were picked to run in the Olympic torch relay £240 if they want to keep the torch afterwards, and another £40 for the stand.

I'll bet you anything you like the people who run the security firms, concrete companies, and environmental compliance doo-dahs will be a lot richer now than they were in 2005. I'll further bet you the vast majority of them won't be Londoners, or even British at least as far as their tax goes, and that the long-term legacy of the whole sorry shambles is going to be a bigger debt and trying to convince Seb Coe he really ought to take part in more than eight per cent of the votes in the House of Lords.

I can't help thinking it would have been a lot more productive and fun in the long term to put £24billion in used notes in a big pile and set light to it, but maybe I'm just being pessimistic.

I'm sure David Beckham's still really excited. But then he'd be excited with a new pen.

Not on the walls, please.

31 comments:

Anonymous said...

I recall when I was learning A Level Economics in 2005 and it was accepted (within economist circles) at the time that the Olympics would cost at least £16bn, and all political parties know this. We also have a lot of other "fun" events coming up soon - the Jubilee for example. Exciting times. I really love Dishface for allowing all these good things to happen, especially when this jubilee will ultimately be the "reason" for an economic depression. But that is not important I guess at the moment. God Save the Queen.

pirate said...

That Transport links in London, a world stage for London....London....London......London. It's about 24 light major railway networks, or one for all the major cities and 30 smaller schemes for smaller places.

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
bonetired said...

Actually you will find that at least one of the sponsoring companies are donating the Olympic torch to their carriers ....

davis said...

I'm not down on The Olympics, celebrating sporting achievement is a wonderful thing, but couldn't a more neutral and central venue have been found for the main stadium...i.e. Birmingham (centre of the country with all transport links already in place) instead of all the potential kerfuffle and cost of staging it in London would bring ?

Patrick Neylan said...

You can't have it in Birmingham because the junketeers at the IOC want their expenses-paid (i.e. paid by us) trips to include shopping in Harrods, not the Bull Ring.

When Birmingham and then Manchester bid for the Olympics, they were told that the Games had to be in a capital city, just like they were in 1980 and 1988 (but not 1972, 1976, 1984, 1992, 1996 or 2000).

Patrick Neylan said...

Fair enough, but you can't really blame Cameron for the Jubilee falling in 2012 - unless you're accusing him of murdering George VI.

Anonymous said...

"While", "Foxy's", "adverts", "while", "you're" and "here". 2/10

Suzanne said...

London never really wanted the Olympics, everyone assumed Paris would win. Here, everyone had about 10 seconds of ha-ha at the French when we did win the bid, then thought, crap, we've got to stage them and we're rubbish at this sort of thing.
As for venues: One of the few sports I know about is the three-day eventing. Few of the riders want to stage it in Greenwich park, it's too small and makes for too twisty a course. Don't think the residents are too keen on their open space being off-limits and trees chopped down either. Britain has some of the best cross-country courses in the world, but they're all outside of London. When Seb Coe sold his Olympic package, the back-drop of the Greenwich Observatory was an iconic image. So no matter what arguments were put forward, it was non-negotiable, the cross-country HAD to be staged in Greenwich.
It isn't about the athletes. It certainly isn't about Londoners. It's all about Seb and 'them' - whoever they are. And as I'm one of the many Londoners who didn't get a ticket for anything, I'm very jaded by the prospect of it all.

pirate said...

But you'll like the transport links and benefit from the PR.

Mas said...

The amount of camera's put up at Bow Road tube, as the last decent stop before the monstrous shopping centre that is now Stratford, wasn't comforting when I first saw them, especially when I noticed that there weren't even half as many at any other tube station I passed through (seriously, what are they expecting to happen in Bow). But OK then - I can see why this might be needed. Then yesterday the BBC told me I am getting air to surface missiles as neighbours (quite literally but I won't get more detailed in case terrorists work out where I live). The Olympics has done nothing for our house prices as the amount of new builds gone up in the last 7 years means there is a huge amount of empty property, and so a lot of competition IF we wanted to sell. It now takes me up to half an hour to get out of the end of my road because the traffic through Bow is now barely moving AND they are going to take away a lane for the "special" people so its going to get a whole heap worse. And don't even get me started on not being able to open my windows because when I do the muck that comes in meant we had to redecorate the whole place and endlessly clean. The only thing the Olympics is doing for me is making me old before my time and raising my anxiety levels from "slightly fractious" to "beware of stroke". To round it all off I am a student nurse about to take a bursary cut. Big damned woop! (I feel a bit better now - thanks)

Anonymous said...

Ditto

Suzanne said...

No transport bonus links in North London. As for PR, please...this is already an iconic city. I'm a big fan of the Olympics, and of my home town, but just not a fan of dworks and fat cats.

Richard Morris said...

I'm sure all those travelling from overseas would be able to fly directly into that international hub, Birmingham. Oh wait, no they can't really. Still that puts the plucky Brits at an advantage!

Les King-Smith said...

We don't need the Olympics, we certainly cannot afford them and yet the government are happy to spend this money whilst for example Great Ormond Street Hospital has to hold out the begging bowl for funding. Great Britain in the 21st Century.

pirate said...

Well it will be more Iconic afterwards with more facilitates to hold more events and attract more visitors..... The rest of the country is paying and will got nothing. Except perhaps a decrease in visitors over the events. Well perhaps if you such a fan of your city you should start paying some of the bills instead of framing them out to us.

Anonymous said...

It gets better, that band of today, Duran Duran are headlining the opening ceremony, along with other wonderfully beige acts such as Radiohead and Stereophonics! Honestly for the amount of money just the opening ceremony is costing surely they could get either relevant MODERN bands/artists or at least something a bit more exciting! What an utter joke.

fr3kysnail said...

They're charging the 'lucky few' who were picked to run in the Olympic torch relay £240 if they want to keep the torch afterwards, and another £40 for the stand.

If my maths is correct, I believe they are making 9 thousand of those torches; that's a potential £2, 160, 000. We Brits are notoriously bad at paying for civil projects, getting ripped off, left, right and centre: See Wembley, The Dome, Olympics, etc...

FS: How much did you say the games is gonna cost again?
FF: £B-i-l-l-i-o-n-s
FS: Er....OK! That charge is not gonna make a dent is it...

Les King-Smith said...

Probably all bands for which Lord Coe has some musical affinity.

Anonymous said...

Grammar nazis go back to ColdWITS

Anonymous said...

Not Nazis. Just people able to spell and punctuate.

Anonymous said...

Well it makes change from London's economy subsidising the rest of the country and the city having below-average public services.

Anonymous said...

Most stupid comment ever! if you're going to play that card what about the taxes paid by Londoners which are distributed out to the rest of the country - I appreciated you're trying to make a point but that's such a poor example

Anonymous said...

People who fling around the term 'grammar Nazis' are just really frustrated that they cannot spell or use punctuation correctly.

Anonymous said...

Not really just London. I live near Hampden Park in Glasgow which will be hosting eight football games over five days that very few people are going to attend. Admittedly we're also hosting the 2014 Commonwealth too, but the amount of civil engineering (narrowing of already congested roads, stricter parking, etc) is already affecting local businesses.
What's worse is that there is going to be blanket advertising by the sponsors - every lamp-post has a new bracket fitted for advertising banners in a mostly residential area.
Normally during the summer Hampden hosts a few major concerts that bring in a lot of money, but that's ruined now because of the lack of tickets sold.
Yeah, it's a mess.

Anonymous said...

this entry = not bright.

you don't seem to understand the difference between public and private money?

Anonymous said...

Loled!

Anonymous said...

I'm as keen as anyone on correct spelling, punctuation, and grammar. Which is why I have absolutely no issues with the correct use of "whilst", and would query any idiot who quibbles with it.

Anonymous said...

cool! radiohead that's worth 24billion shirley (and thom will definetly have a go at the corperates about their greed.. he's pc like that)?
oh crap i don't have tickets.. oh well i don't mind paying for ronald's mates and the colonel's mates and the cola people and the..
i'll just watch it on tv and imagine i'm watching somewhere exotic like paris

Foxhound said...

In the WHOLE of that article you managed to avoid mentioning Bliar, Brown and Mandelson and the whole putrid lot of Nu Liebore to dumped us with this summer turd called the Olympics.

What really annoys me about your blog is your constant defence of Bliar and Brown (especially).

Nu Liebore are a vile bunch, most of them should be in jail (several of them have been for stealing off the tax payer) for crimes against humanity.

Anyone who voted Liebore back in 2005 is in my view a criminal and should hang their head in shame for voting back into power the most vile government in the 1000 years of our nation.

Foxy said...

Seeing as the current predicted Olympic costs are the result of decisions by two governments consisting of three political parties, I should think that would be tautology.

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