We are developing the social individualist meta-context for the future. From the very serious to the extremely frivolous... lets see what is on the mind of the Samizdata people.

Samizdata, derived from Samizdat /n. - a system of clandestine publication of banned literature in the USSR [Russ.,= self-publishing house]

Olympic games

The line here, which I pretty much toe, is that the Olympic Games are an orgy of drug-sodden, politicised insanity, which Britain, London in particular, will spend the next century or more paying for, in the unfortunate event that Britain, London in particular, get the damn things, in 2012. That the politicians all seem to love the Olympics is enough to make me hostile, even though I do have a serious weakness for modernistical structures of the sort that they build nowadays to accommodate sporting events.

Luckily, Paris is now said to be the front runner. But, the news from Paris is deteriorating. On March 10th, that gang of bribe guzzlers known as the IOC (International Olympic Committee) will be visiting Paris, and the local unions, purely by coincidence I feel sure, happen to be agitating at that time against … the future basically:

French unions have rejected calls to shelve strikes planned for the day the International Olympic Committee (IOC) is due in Paris to assess its bid.

Seven unions are to take part in marches and stoppages on 10 March, to protest against government moves to relax France’s 35-hour working week.

Meanwhile, Mayor of London Ken Livingstone is up to his neck in a row about some insulting and borderline anti-semitic remarks he made to a Jewish journalist, in the course of his ongoing feud with a newspaper group.

The pressure on London Mayor Ken Livingstone intensified today as Tony Blair joined calls for him apologise for his Nazi jibe to a Jewish journalist.

In the capital, there were fears that the continuing row over Mr Livingstone’s outburst – in which he likened the journalist to a concentration camp guard – could damage the city’s chances of hosting the 2012 Olympics.

Well, it certainly could, and the French press is presumably spinning this story like a nuclear powered top. But, a possibility that does not seem to have been much discussed is that Ken Livingstone’s attitude during this ruckus might be what it is not despite the attempt to get the Olympics for London, but because of it. The initial insults sound less than calculated, but politicians like Ken Livingstone are nothing if not good actors. What if Ken picked this particular fight deliberately? Okay, that may be somewhat farfetched. But the aftermath? After Ken had had time to think things through?

Israel has called on Ken to apologise. “International” people, like the people in the International Olympic Committee, are just going to fall over themselves to obey Israel. Not.

Tony Blair wants Ken to apologise. And he is another focus of adoration throughout International land. Again, not.

I do not know the political attitudes of the IOC people, but I bet Ken Livingstone does. And what if he calculates that hanging tough, in the face of all this pressure, adding further insults to the original insults, will actually get him more points with these people than backing down?

Tweet about this on TwitterShare on FacebookShare on LinkedInShare on TumblrShare on RedditShare on Google+Share on VK

20 comments to Olympic games

  • Olympus

    Sadly, I think a calculated bout of antisemitism would win more votes than lose them.

  • I made a similar point over at Dodgeblogium(Link):

    All he needed to have done is admit that he was insensitive and that he made a mistake. But for an egomaniac such as Livingstone, that was never going to happen.

    To suggest that the outcome from this confrontation has been orchestrated from the start is possibly pushing the boundaries of cynicism, but one cannot doubt part of him, conniving away, is grinning his smug grin of glee at the absurd way that it has played itself out.

  • baltik

    Although I query whether the word “modernistical” actually exists, I would say that this is the first incisive analysis I’ve read about the whole Ken Livingstone affair.

    If London wins, God knows how much pressure it is going to come under, not just from Associated Newspapers but from left-wing press who will defend existing East End communities as if they were modern nirvanas. Best that the IOC has a local guy who will stand firm when the going is tricky. Very true. I am convinced this was a factor.

    Personally, I don’t think his remarks were anti-semitic. They were cheap and perhaps Livingston was guilty of following foul of another law but he didn’t know he was speaking to a Jewish reporter and blindly persisted with his analogy once he was told the truth.

    As Simon Hoggart suggests in Saturday’s Guardian, he was probably a bit pissed too.

  • The Olympic Games . . . is there a bigger waste of money and talent, aside from the UN and the European Commission and the US Democratic Party and the NY Times?

    To paraphrase the comments on the Tsar in “Fiddler on the Roof”: “May God bless and keep the Olympic Games . . . far away from us.”

  • I'm suffering for my art

    London gaining the games *may* have one beneficial effect – someone will probably decide that the tube needs to be sorted out. I know Beijing is digging an extra five underground lines to add to its existing two. Admittedly, they’re spending a stupendously large amount of cash tarting up Beijing and putting on the show; I recently read that the Chinese are budgeting $27.7 billion. Compare to Greece’s $8.3 (?) billion… going by memory there, I’m sure if I’m egregiously wrong, someone will set me straight.

    Regards,

  • I’m not sure about the “The games will fix the transport” argument. Sydney has trains that are even worse than those in London. They were terrible leading up to the games, worked wonderfully during the games, and have got substantially worse than ever since the games. Basically the games organisers managed to motivate the staff during the games. (Motivated staff are everything of course). Then they went back to their previous unmotivated state.

    (On the other hand, Sydney’s airport was dreadful prior to the games, and the games provided a reason to massively upgrade it and just generally fix it. And it has stayed fixed since).

  • baltik

    “Modernistical” may not yet be a word, but it ought to be.

    I have in mind all those fantastically expensive shiny things that, e.g. attach a giant sheet of fantastically expensive glass to a fantastically expensive structure, all doubling up as abstract sculpture, as pioneered by Foster, Rogers, etc.. I often love this sort of stuff, but “modern” really doesn’t do it justice. Modernistical is a self-consciously elaborate word for a self-consciously elaborate thing.

    For what I think is a ludicrously overdone example of the style, see the giant front door of the Channel 4 headquarters at the top of Horseferry Road. The only defence of this I can think of is that it is better than no visible front door at all, which was the “modern” way of doing things.

    Wherever the Olympics go, there will be a huge eruption of the modernistical style.

  • Pete_London

    Well let’s hope for a huge eruption of the modernistical style in Paris then.

  • Johnathan

    Brian, it seems to me that if the advocates of hosting the Games really do believe they will generate a worthwhile return, why don’t they try to get a consortium of investment banks to issue, say, 20-year bonds to pay for em, perhaps calling them “Olympic Bonds” or suchlike? I am a bit surprised there has not been more commentary in this vein. I wonder if any major investment bank has costed the idea. Anyone know?

    As for Livingstone’s remarks, they were crass, and he should have said sorry. In a way he has fallen victim to the very sort of sensitivities that he has done so much to exploit in his inglorious political life. The guy is a bum and unfit for public office.

  • I'm suffering for my art

    Michael – Of course I was referring to infrastructure improvements and upgrades, as opposed to a bandaid solution that temporarily solves the problem. Does anyone think anything could possibly be done to patch over the shambles that is the tube, and make it un-shambolic for a period of two weeks, without doing something contradictory to the term “public transport”, like barring or restricting service to the natives?

  • Verity

    Pete_London – Yes, Paris loves modernistical structures. Look at Charles de Gaulle airport (gaaggghhhhh!). Look at us! We were outrageous enough to put a cheap, out- of-proportion plastic pyramid in the courtyard of the Louvre! We put up a vast, giant airport without signage, giving a modernistical ‘lost souls’ effect as empty-eyed passengers push their trolleys around looking for clues as to to where their airline check-in counters and departure gates might be! We also told our personnel to get offended if anyone asked for directions. Are we cute enough to kiss?

    Fingers crossed for Paris to get the Games. It will serve them right.

  • RAB

    Cuddly Ken was just being the leftie pissed up tosser he is.If someone gets up your nose you call them a fascist. Likening the reporter to a concentration camp guard because his paper had nice things to say about Hitler in 1933 is pathetic.It shows no knowledge of the people who really were concentration camp guards and wernt just obeying orders they were loving it.Maybe the reporter was loving it too, sticking it to Ken when you know(at least most of the press know) there are times when you are guaranteed to catch him “tired and emotional” Ken is a bear of little brain but, like all politicians, massive ego.He is the true reactionary, hench his words were knee jerk left jargon, as automatic as a prayer wheel.
    Also Ken wants the credit , if any is to be given for “saving ” London.He will not be Mayor when the prospective games are held and maybe this is his childish way of scuppering them, then claiming that London has been better served by his policies than it would have been with the inevitably large amounts of cash that a successful Olympic bid would bring.

  • RAB

    Cuddly Ken was just being the leftie pissed up tosser he is.If someone gets up your nose you call them a fascist. Likening the reporter to a concentration camp guard because his paper had nice things to say about Hitler in 1933 is pathetic.It shows no knowledge of the people who really were concentration camp guards and wernt just obeying orders they were loving it.Maybe the reporter was loving it too, sticking it to Ken when you know(at least most of the press know) there are times when you are guaranteed to catch him “tired and emotional” Ken is a bear of little brain but, like all politicians, massive ego.He is the true reactionary, hench his words were knee jerk left jargon, as automatic as a prayer wheel.
    Also Ken wants the credit , if any is to be given for “saving ” London.He will not be Mayor when the prospective games are held and maybe this is his childish way of scuppering them, then claiming that London has been better served by his policies than it would have been with the inevitably large amounts of cash that a successful Olympic bid would bring.

  • Guy Herbert

    I’ve nothing against drug-sodden orgies. London could do with a few more.

    It’s the sport, the nationalism, and the fact I’ll be forced to pay to be inconvenienced by it that worries me about the Olympics.

  • Stehpinkeln

    I’ll speakof silver clouds and dark linings. Or was that dark clouds and silver linings? Nevermind.
    I think all you Tony haters are forgetting the Great Plympic Curse. It brought down Hitler, the Soviet UInion and will soon bring down China. Why not Tony too?
    Granted, there are less expensive ways of changing governments. The most cost effective being a 30.06 round. A box of 20 is about 8 $ US. Retail, without shopping for a deal. Even in an inflated currency like the euro that’s not a lot. If one includes the cost of the manhunt and trial of whoever gets blamed, it’s still cheaper then millions on an election, or billions (US billions) on an olympics. Of course you don’t get medal ceramonies. Unfortunate, really.

  • Johnathan

    Stehpinkein, a truly outstanding piece of cost-benefit analysis, sir.

  • Julian Taylor

    I wouldn’t want to see Phoney assassinated – Ken Livingstone pulled apart limb from limb while screaming in agony by Evening Standard reporters in German SUV’s, yes – but I feel the cost of the bullet severely outweighs Phoney’s net worth.

    Rather I would like to see him slowly decline into a state of bankruptcy (he is currently only able to raise £2,000 a week rent on his latest property while having a £13,000 a month interest-only mortgage) and a gradual slide into absolute ignominity, the worst thing that could happen to a chronicly insecure little man whose sole aim in life is how history will one day remember him.

    Oh, and baltik – Livingstone did know who he was insulting,

    Mr Livingstone was approached by a Standard reporter, Oliver Finegold, who asked whether he had enjoyed a party to celebrate 20 years since the former Labour minister Chris Smith “came out” as a homosexual.

    The mayor responded by comparing the reporter to a “German war criminal”.

    When Finegold told him he was Jewish and found the remark offensive, Mr Livingstone said he was like a “concentration camp guard” who was only following orders.

    That’s from The Telegraph [LINK] but I’m sure if you search TheThis Is London [LINK] you will be able to see the whole transcript.

  • Della

    I’ll speakof silver clouds and dark linings. Or was that dark clouds and silver linings? Nevermind.
    I think all you Tony haters are forgetting the Great Plympic Curse. It brought down Hitler, the Soviet UInion and will soon bring down China. Why not Tony too?

    So far as I remember the Soviet Union and Nazi Germany lost their power 9 years after the Olympic games in their countries (The Soviet Union kept going for a further 3 years after eastern europe fell). 2012 is 7 years away, that means we would get 16 more years of Blair, which is a long time. He’ll get voted out, tossed out in a Labour coup, or, given his heart problems, die of a heart attack before then.

  • Gary Gunnels

    Hopefully a strike will keep the games out of Paris.

    Verity,

    The pyramid in front of the Louvre is now a much beloved attraction. People used to hate the Eiffel Tower; now its a landmark. Such is the way of the world.

  • Olympics will bring London money. So there is upside.