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More Eye jinks

I reckon it was a plot to make us all buy two copies of the Evening Standard.

First it was:

The French are making an audacious bid to take the London Eye to Paris.

And then later in the day it was:

The London Eye was saved today after an intervention by Ken Livingstone.

In my posting about this ruckus last week, I said that this attempt to gouge a hugely increased rent out of the Wheel might be linked to the plans now in hand to redevelop the South Bank in general, and in particular to rescue the acoustics of the Royal Festival Hall. Since posting that speculation, I have actually visited the South Bank, and can confirm that building work has already begun.

What I omitted to mention was the Olympic effect. The Wheel is obviously a key part of the attempt to get the 2012 Olympics for London.

Evidently the (for now) South Bank Centre (a government funded quango) boss Lord Hollick reckoned that the Olympic effect would work in his favour, and he still might be proved right. But this is politics he is playing, not business, and it seems more likely that he will come out of this very badly. And the South Bank Centre, instead of getting a substantial fraction of the original absurd rent demand, may end up actually losing money. Hollick, by precipitating this row, has already hurt London’s Olympic bid, and Ken Livingstone surely spoke for many, high and low, when he called him a prat. And being called a prat is the least of Hollick’s problems. The trouble with playing the game of Olympic blackmail is that you are liable then to be savaged by extremely savage people, in the form of our particular feral (when angry) current batch of rulers. Hollick is going to need all the friends he can muster in the days to come.

I do not know how seriously to take the alleged French plan to ship the Wheel over to Paris and make it the cherry in the cake of the Paris bid. I love the Wheel, and never for a minute did I fear that this French plan, even assuming it was serious and not just cooked up by some friend of Ken Livingstone, or of the Evening Standard, would be allowed to come to fruition. So I laughed out loud when I first saw the headline.

I also had another laugh this evening when I looked at this website plugging the South Bank Centre, and saw this:

Situated on the South Bank of the River Thames next to the popular London Eye, the South Bank Centre is at the heart of an arts quarter stretching from the National Film Theatre to Tate Modern and Shakespeare’s Globe.

If London loses the Olympic bid, as most of us here at Samizdata.net pray that it does, then everything will turn out splendidly. Lots of entertainment, and no actual Olympics to spoil the fun.

On the other hand, if London does get landed with the Olympics, stand by for blackmail like you’ve never seen before, from whoever decides to give it a go.

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16 comments to More Eye jinks

  • Why do most of you oppose the bid? Government financing is extremely low (three quarter of the stadiums are being built anyway) and the heritage for Stratford is amazing. There’s a political argument against the Olympic Games that can be made, I see that, but London 2012 would be grand for the city.

  • Quite apart from any other argument, anyone who was present at the Regent Street Grand Prix farce will testify that London isn’t capable of hosting such an event as the Olympics. Crowd control was a farce, there was no space, and public transport came to a standstill with only a mere 500,000-odd extra people using it…

    But of course it was hailed by Red Ken as an astounding success regardless…

  • Berenger

    Why do I oppose the bid – because it will cost me too much and I will get nothing from it. London seems incapable of taking on large scale projects like this. You say the successful Wembley Stadium – massively de-scoped, years late and nearly 6 times the original cost when it applied for it’s first lottery grant . Picketts Lock – cancelled with a humiliating re-location of the event it was supposed to be ready for. Ah, but all the facilities – and all the national sports associations concerned saying how they will be for the exclusive use of ‘elite’ (i.e. no chance of winning but turn up for the experience) athletes. At 46 (or 53 by the time it comes round) and more than a little overweight I am not going to fit into the ‘elite’ category.

    It has a price tag of x billions but if the experience of Athens, Barcelona Sydney etc. the likely cost is going to be nx billions where n>3. Who is going to pay for that – not the skinflint scot in no 11 (soon to be no 10) siphoning off money for scotland. No, it will be the London Council Tax payer who won’t have to find £20 per year for a long time to pay it but with the lack of committed central funding it’s likely to be ten times that for a couple of generations. Of course there will be winners – pampered no hope ‘athletes’, construction companies able to hold London to ransom as the date draw near, cheap eastern european labour (jobs for East Enders – you must be joking), Ken Livingstone’s ego which will become even more uncontainable and of course the Met filth who on hearing London getting the bid will immediately set up a task force of at least 200 officers who will sit around with their fists up the arses for the next 7 years discussing ‘security’ arrangements or having freebie holidays to nice places like Beijing, Sydney, Barcelona and Athens to commune with other pigs about ‘security’. But the majority of Londoners – they will be big losers. I could go on – I haven’t even touched on the transport implications…..

  • Julian Taylor

    It has been estimated that the London Olympics will cost every single tax payer in the UK about £12 a year between 2005 and 2012. In addition it will cost every Londoner an additional £20 per annum for the same period, to fund that bastard Livingscum’s excesses during the runup to the Olympics. All of this money is usually recouped from the IOC after the event, with some being recouped during the construction phase but obviously none of that money will ever be repaid to tax or rate payers – the beauty of Socialism is never having to apologise or give back the money you stole.

    As for London hosting the Olympics it is extraordinary how incompetently the whole event has been planned. Less than 40 miles from London at Hickstead we have one of the world’s most renowned horsejumping and dressage facilities – yet this is judged “too far” to go. The other venues are listed on Page 10 as,

    Wimbledon, the world’s premier tennis centre;

    Lord’s, the home of world cricket, which will host archery;

    the newly-extended and improved Eton College Rowing Centre at Dorney Lake, Eton/Dorney, which will stage the 2006 World Rowing Championships; and

    the shooting ranges at Bisley, a venue in the 1908 and 1948 London Olympics and renovated for the 2002 Commonwealth Games.

    Outside London, Manchester United’s Old Trafford and Hampden Park, Glasgow, will be amongst the stadia used for the football competition.

    Planned sports venues

    The new state-of-the-art, 90,000-seat Wembley Stadium, which hosted both the 1948 Olympic Games and the 1966 football World Cup Final, will be used for the finals of the Olympic football competition.

    Additional sports venues
    Additional sports venues will be at the heart of London’s Olympic Park. The Olympic Stadium will stage the athletics and the Opening and Closing Ceremonies for the Olympic Games and Paralympic Games. The neighbouring new aquatic centre will cater for speed
    and synchronised swimming, diving and the finals of the water polo. A velodrome and BMX track, which will form the backbone of a legacy velopark, as well as a two-stadium hockey complex, will be built a few minutes from the Olympic Village. A high quality
    multi-sport complex, made up of three new indoor arenas, will stage basketball, volleyball and handball. Seating capacities will be a mix of permanent and temporary build depending on legacy use.

    So, its ok to send soccer players to Glasgow and Manchester (I thought that we had enough high standard soccer stadiums in London, but nevermind), yet not use the Olympic standard swimming pool facilites at Crystal Palace in South London or its, again Olympic standard, athletics stadium? They also don’t mention the loony plan by Livingscum and the dreadful anti-monarchist woman he brought in to initially oversee his bid, of sanding over The Mall and using it for the Volleyball competition.

  • dearieme

    The Paris skyline is already dominated by a huge penis. (How we laughed at school when we learnt the french pronounciation of Eiffel Tower.) Now they want to add to it a huge er um. City of Romance indeed.

  • GCooper

    Robert John Kaper writes:

    “…. but London 2012 would be grand for the city.”

    I agree with what the rest of the antis who’ve posted above have said and, if I had time, could probably add another couple of thousand words why this is a lousy, rotten idea. But just to pick a single point, according to a report earlier this week, from Capital Economics, the financial benefits to London of holding the Olympics here will be…. virtually nothing.

    Of course, the BBC and all the other rah-rah organisations that stand to make money out of the games somehow managed to ignore this story.

    I hope the French get it. They deserve no less.

  • Ted Schuerzinger


    I didn’t know the Brits were planning to use Wimbledon if London won the Olympic bid. The players aren’t going to go for it. The Olympics are in the run-up to the US Open, and the players want to play on a surface similar to that which they’ll play on at Flushing Meadows.

    Athens put down DecoTurf II courts for precisely this reason.

    On the other hand, if Wimbledon put in hard courts, it might finally destroy the anachronistic thoughts of a bunch of fans here in the States that Wimbledon is by far the most important tennis tournament of the year, which is probably a good thing. 🙂

  • Robert,

    I am opposed to the Olympic Games being held in London because:

    1. It will cause a substantial increase to my already high Council Tax bill.
    2. London is one of the world’s premier cities (matched only by New York). It does not need to host a lavish and expensive event to put it on the map. London is the map.
    3. The Olympics is an ideal opportunity for our political classes to posture and bask in their own sense of self-importance and ‘hero of the people’ status. I want to deny them this.

    That is just 3 of the reasons. I could go on.

  • zmollusc

    Good grief, are you lot still moaning about the traffic chaos that the olympics would bring? Imbeciles!
    The answer is, of course, to accelerate and extend the current road improvement program. In other words block off more roads and make them pedestrian zones, make the remaining roads narrower and fit traffic lights every few yards.

  • zmollusc wrote:

    The answer is, of course, to accelerate and extend the current road improvement program. In other words block off more roads and make them pedestrian zones, make the remaining roads narrower and fit traffic lights every few yards.

    Don’t be silly. Far easier putting cameras up everywhere and simply charging people extortionate amounts for going about their daily business. Remember it’s not about increasing the supply of roads, it’s reducing the demand for roads. Why? Because our overcrowded, expensive and unreliable trains and buses need more people using them of course. Blah blah environment blah trees blah blah congestion.

  • I can’t imagine why anyone living in a big city would want to host the Olympics at all.
    And I certainly hope NY doens’t get the Olympics.

  • Sandy P

    You and frogistan should split the difference, after all, you will all be Europeans now.

    London opens and hosts some events, frogistan closes and hosts some events.

  • Thanks for telling me about the recoup deal, that certainly explains the “too costly” claims despite the mere £72 million of government funds in the LOCOG budget. If that’s a hoax I’m right there with Londoners that it’s a waste of money.

    On the other hand, a mate of mine might compete and I’d definitely rather cheer her on in London than having to go to awful Paris.. nothing romantic about that place even if she’d be there!

    Tough call.. I doubt my spending in London would be sufficient to make up for all your taxes so I really shouldn’t let a bird influence my opinion should I? 🙂

  • Ted Schuerzinger

    Sandy P wrote:

    You and frogistan should split the difference,

    I agree. Hold the Olympics in the English Channel. 🙂

  • Berenger

    I’ve just read in today’s Times (the real thing not the usurper from the west side of the pond) that the Beijing Olympics are going to cost £42billion. With Ken’s ego having to top that I dread what going to happen to my Council Tax Bill – 4 figures for the GLA precept anyone?

  • guy herbert

    I doubt my spending in London would be sufficient to make up for all your taxes

    2004 was not a good year for the Greek tourist industry as a whole. People who’d normally go there for sun or history kept away in large numbers, particularly in the period beforehand when they feared they might be caught up in security or crowding.

    Meanwhile in Stratford East, large amounts of public money have already been spent and large amounts of land has been compulsorily purchased, creating planning blight across an already poor borough, in anticipation of the bid.

    Anyone in London who thinks the Olympics will magically “improve” the Lea Valley has obviously never been to White City.