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The Olympic bill starts to rise

Via Stephen Pollard, I read this:

The cost of staging the London Olympic Games in 2012 is set to double. Senior officials organising the Games say construction costs have been seriously underestimated by Tessa Jowell’s Department of Culture, Media and Sport.

Being a council tax paying Londoner I read on, with a tensed-up face, and I did not have far to go for the bad news. Here is the next damn sentence:

A rise in costs could spell financial disaster for Londoners.

And is this really going to help?

The Observer has learnt that the government has in recent days appointed consultancy KPMG to begin a reappraisal of its Olympic costs.

Which reminds me of that committee that Lenin set up to look into the problem of bureaucracy.

Building the Olympic Park in east London was projected to cost £2.37bn. The city’s mayor, Ken Livingstone, assured Tony Blair and Gordon Brown that any overruns would be met by Londoners. On these figures that amounts to an extra £1,000 per household. This means a steep rise in council tax is on the cards in London, as the Chancellor is unlikely to meet any shortfall.

The price of that priceless look on Chirac’s face is starting to become a bit clearer, and a lot higher.

114 comments to The Olympic bill starts to rise

  • Pete_London

    The arrogance! The sheer, towering arrogance of the twerp.

    The city’s mayor, Ken Livingstone, assured Tony Blair and Gordon Brown that any overruns would be met by Londoners.

    If Livingstone has given that assurance he should be dragged from office and if I wasn’t ensconced 30 miles outside of town Livingstone would by now have my name, address and a note telling him where to shove his cost overruns. How often does a politician get away with a performance which in the private sector would see them sacked by shareholders or prosecuted by civil authorities? T’was ever thus of course but it must surely be happening ever more often. Please, no-one state that they are surprised by this. The only certain element of the project is that costs will rise and Londoners will bend over and take it.

  • Johnathan Pearce

    Colour me unsurprised.

  • John East

    Who would have thought it, a cost overun. It’s early days yet though, look for costs to double and double again. Unless of course this is the first state enterprise in recent history that comes in on a budget estimate prepared 6 years before completion.

  • Not only predictable but predicted.

  • Julian Taylor

    Yet another major screwup by the repulsive Tessa Jowell and her ministry. Several nights ago Jeremy Paxman asked her the reason why her department (Culture, Media and Sport) was responsible for bringing in the extended licensing hours – something he rightly stated should be managed by the Home Office which is responsible for the licensing and conduct of all clubs, pubs and restaurants etc. Not surprisingly she got out of that question faster than a smoker in Michael Bloomberg’s office, and we are still at a loss to understand why such a serious matter is being handled by her ministry.

  • Verity

    Are you serious? The bill for the Olympics was underbid in error? For the first time ever?

    Yes, Londoners will sigh and accept it passively. At least the French would have a bloody good riot.

    Paging HJHJ …

  • phu

    There are many reasons why Livingstone should be kicked out of office. He’s the bane of the Londoner.

    The only time there has been mention of kicking him out of office, however, was over the stupid remark he made to that journalist.

    How is it that the intelligent few are controlled by the jaw droppingly dumb majority?

  • Paul Marks

    Red Ken has already increased London Authority spending in various ways – and the cost has been passed on to the taxpayer via the London boroughs.

    The first time R.K. was elected Mayor people said that they were voting to give Mr Blair a “bloody nose” (although A.W. tried to explain to them that voting for an even bigger tax and spend man than Mr Blair was an odd way of going about it).

    In the second election Mr Blair supported Red Ken – so there was not even that excuse.

    Representative democracy does not work.

    The games will (of course) be a wildy expensive farce (as many people predicted long ago), but the people of London would still have voted to have the games if there had been a direct vote on the matter (they would either not have known of, or not believed, the warnings).

    Direct democracy does not seem to work either – think of not just this case, but also think of what just happened in California and Colorado. Or look at the vote last year in Switzerland not to end the revolting practice where low tax cantons have to send money to high tax cantons.

    Direct democracy may be better than representative democracy (rule by people who get their power by flattering the voters is not a difficult system to improve on), but it is still not a very good system.

    Democracy can only work if most voters are knowledgeable (and highly moral) – how likely is that?

    The most popular newspaper in Britian is “The Sun” – the newspaper that says (in a front page headline) that M.P.s who vote against 90 days imprisonment without charge (not without trial, without charge) are “Traitors” and “enemies of the people”.

    This is the sort of stuff that the people freely choose to buy. I note that Richard Littlejohn (one of the few people on the newspaper who had any principles) no longer seems to work for the Sun – I would like to think that this would hit the sales of the newspaper, but we shall see.

  • RAB

    I dont think Livingstone can promise the Government anything. He will not be in office when the Games take place.
    As to the Games themselves, well having watched the documentary on how young chinese athletes are trained and treated, there is a good case to be made to get the whole sherbang banned under the Human Rights Act.
    It sure as hell isnt adding to world peace.

  • Johnathan Pearce

    HJHJ seems to have gone into hiding.

  • Verity

    Is the vacuous Tessa Jowell, who posed and primped her way through the bribing – oops! bidding process, going to be sacked for getting it one hundred percent wrong (so far)?

  • Phu

    “The most popular newspaper in Britian is “The Sun” – the newspaper that says (in a front page headline) that M.P.s who vote against 90 days imprisonment without charge (not without trial, without charge) are “Traitors” and “enemies of the people”.

    This is the sort of stuff that the people freely choose to buy”


    It is amazing how stupid the General Public is.

    That the Sun’s popularity is so widespread is a huge concern for me, I really do worry about society.

    I know it’s much smaller, but have you ever read the page in the Daily Star where readers text in short comments?

    It is genuinely scary that the authors of those short messages can vote for who they want to lead the country.

  • Nonsense Verity,Londoners will profit from this venture,not all admittedly,but definitely some,well perhaps just a few,or even a couple incorporated in the Cayman Islands.
    But dash it all,this is a great international event,that will bring glory to London,a spectacle for the minority of athletic fans the world over,Londoner should not cavil at being priced out of their homes to pay for it.

  • Verity

    Well, Peter, you certainly present a persuasive case. And London, as a small, little-known city, certainly needs to get its name out and about. And definitely, some people in Kashmir and Brasilia will watch some of these sporting events on TV, which will benefit Londoners in some way.

    Londoners should not, therefore, be disturbed when the next discovery that the cost having already doubled is also a mistake. Expect this news in about a year. Then there will be five more years to discover more errors. As it’s already up 100%, expect the final reckoning to be ten times that. But as you say, I can’t see that Londoners should be petty minded about this.
    It’s a great sporting event and will put London on the map in some way.

    Also, in the final six months, look for billion pound bonuses to be paid to construction companies to get it all finished on time.

    If I were a Londoner, I’d sell up now and get out before the Olympics beggars you.

  • Verity

    Don’t forget – this is the team that brought you the Millennium Dome.

  • The Wobbly Guy

    Londoners deserve the government they get. For those living there now, is there any way you can get out of paying the taxes while still residing there?

  • Pete_London


    Certainly you can, as long as you don’t mind sharing a cell with a council tax-avoiding pensioner. Personally, I’d regard it as a badge of honour.

  • Julian Taylor

    Verity wrote,

    Is the vacuous Tessa Jowell, who posed and primped her way through the bribing – oops! bidding process, going to be sacked for getting it one hundred percent wrong (so far)?

    Now you should know better than to suggest that Ms Jawohl might get sacked. Tony Blair’s ministerial favourites tend to have more resurgences than al dente broccoli and Tessa has certainly had more than her fair share, what with her husband involved in the sale of (embargoed) aircraft to Iran etc. Think of her more as a useful firewall, serving as protection for both Our Little Tony and Red Ken from being asked awkward questions like “where has all the money gone?”.

  • Verity

    What is a Department of Culture, Media and Sport actually for? Given that the private sector seems to deal with these three subjects itself, with great effect.
    What is its role?

    Londoners should have known better and voted for anyone but Red Ken. What is the percentage of property-owners against renters in London? Does anyone know? Renters have no vested interest in property values or taxes. (Yes, I know rents will go up, but they’ll have moved on by then.)

  • Johnathan Pearce

    And all this crap on a day when a truly popular sportsman, and one of the greatest footballers of all time, George Best, passed away. No taxpayer’s money would have been necessary to showcase his talent.


  • Verity

    Oh, gosh! Has George Best died? I didn’t even know he was sick!

  • Julian Taylor

    One of the best [no pun intended] quotes ever, and certainly the best from a footballer,

    I spent a lot of my money on booze, birds and fast cars, the rest I just squandered.

  • bierce

    What a load of scrooges getting their cries of “humbug” in early for christmas!
    When we’re all enjoying the games and international atmosphere you can all stay at home, close the curtains and count your beans.
    Verity – London is a wonderful city. If you did live here I’d pay your removal expenses so as not to run the risk of encountering your hyper-misarabilism.

  • bierce

    Paul Marks:
    “Representative democracy does not work.”
    North Korea sounds like your kind of place, then.

  • Verity

    bierce – Hello? Do you read English? I make no judgement on London. I do, however, judge Londoners for being stupid enough to twice put a communist in as their chief executive. One would expect beings made up of more than a single cell to be a bit brighter. They are going to be beggared by these Olympics. I believe Montrealers are still paying for their shot at glory. After – is it 20? – years…

    HJHJ – Are you out of town? Doesn’t your hotel have DSL? Hello?

  • bierce

    Londoners are what make London great. I expect they’ll recover from your cruel judgement, given time.

  • I watched all this happen in Sydney, and I watched a lot of British bureaucrats and politicians visit at the time and get “Sydney envy” over the sheer magnitude of the junket, and then I heard British politicians say exactly the same things in exactly the same way that people did prior to the Sydney games. So, I am as unsurprised as it is possible to be.

    I am still waiting for the government of New South Wales to tell us exactly what the Sydney games cost. (We are going to have to wait for a change of government for this to happen, though). I expect the situation in London will be much worse.

    By the way, this TV series is hilarious, in the same horrifying way that “Yes Minister” is hilarious when you realise it is all entirely true. (It was made a couple of years before the Sydney games, and then we then watched it all happen).

  • Verity

    bierce – The Londoners who voted Livingstone in are brain dead or they are renters – itinerants who have no stake in London’s long term wellbeing. Anyone with a genuine stake in London would not want their property tax to rise by something like 1000%. At least, I don’t they would.

  • “When we’re all enjoying the games and international atmosphere you can all stay at home, close the curtains and count your beans.”

    Who are “we” and how many is all? Why should we pay for your enjoyment,? We don’t have to pay for your hobbies.

    Is not London “international” emough then?

  • bierce

    OK. I promise not to invite you to the party.

  • bierce,If it’s your party you pay for it,OK?

  • Verity

    What party? The poverty-stricken can’t afford parties. Or were you referring to the Big Brother, state-funded party? Should be a barrel of fun. Like the Millennium Dome.

    I think they should get Imelda to open it. She added so much class to the opening of the Millennium Dome.

  • bierce

    The poverty-stricken brain-dead who voted for Ken will be enjoying the party.

  • “The poverty-stricken brain-dead who voted for Ken will be enjoying the party”

    Yes, the pickpockets, muggers,shoplifters and sneak thieves will be in training up for the event.Wait until the bill for the policing is presented.

    In any case you have provided another argument why the London council tax payers shouldn’t have to pay.

  • bierce

    I am a property-owner. We have enjoyed a vast, unearned increase in the value of our property, particularly in London, over the last 20+ years. Let’s try not to sound like Scrooge on a bad day.

  • GCooper

    Yes, where is HJHJ?

    I recall only to well the heated exchanges in which we were told this would be a Good Thing and why we should all be delighted at subsidising his and other sports fanatics’ pleasures.

    As anyone with a functioning braincell knew from the outset, this was a doomed project, driven on the one hand by Leninspart’s gargantuan ego and on the other, by Za-NuLabour’s obsession with ‘feelgood’ headlines.

  • GCooper

    bierce writes:

    “I am a property-owner. We have enjoyed a vast, unearned increase in the value of our property, particularly in London, over the last 20+ years. ”

    And what, pray, does the market value of one’s house have to do with the level of council tax one either pays out of earned income or a pension?

    If you have somehow managed to align your salary with the capital appreciation of your house, I congratulate you in advance on your next feat which will, no doubt, be squaring the circle.

  • Unfortunately bierce,unless you move to a cheaper area,or borrow money on it,your house is simply a paper asset.
    How does paying an increased council tax,forgeting the rebanding coming shortly,actually make you financially better off?
    Will you contribute to those who cannot afford their mortgages.
    Supporting circuses rather than bread might add to your jollity but tell that to some poor bugger on a fixed income.

  • “… is set to double.” Only double? Here in Spain public works always end up costing the planned budget times pi.

  • bierce

    OK, I give in, scrap the games. Humbug wins the gold.

  • Love to bierce,unfortunately for you the games are booked you are going to have to pay for them now.Hope business stays stable so you can keep up the mortgage

  • Verity

    Biopolitical – I think perhaps you didn’t read the whole thing. This is just the bid we are talking bout. The real bid has now been recalculated by grown ups and it seems Tessa Jowell’s department underbid by a factor of 100%. Once the work has started, we’ll be talking about real money.

    bierce writes: “We have enjoyed a vast, unearned increase in the value of our property …”. Unearned? You made an investment in your property and it has earned you a dividend over a 20 year period.

    Now, Pete_London, Peter and G Cooper (and Jonathan, too), what are the characteristics of HJHJ when he is supporting a cause he knows is untenable? He gets someone in to speak for him, does
    he not? Someone who has never made an appearance on this blog before yet proves an instantly persistent poster on one topic only, and is coincidentally pro all HJHJ’s positions.

    Jes sayin’ is all …

  • Verity,
    I miss Mr Jeego.

  • bierce

    Don’t fret Peter. I’ll continue to grow fat on my massive public-employee pension paid for by the toilers in the salt mines…

  • Verity

    Peter, I don’t remember a Mr Jeego. Bullo, I remember. Wasn’t he the economist?

  • Thought you might bierce.

  • Verity

    Who? Me? What? Why?

  • mark

    A good way to raise money: hold the Gap 100 Meter dash in Microsoft Stadium, the Chevrolet Middle Weight Boxing Final in BMW Arena or the Burger King 4 X 100 Men’s Freestyle Relay in Coca-Cola Pool.

  • Verity

    “or the Burger King 4 X 100 Men’s Freestyle Relay in Coca-Cola Pool.” Excellent, capitalistic thought, Mark.

    But, isn’t that Burqa King?

  • Chris Harper

    “When we’re all enjoying the games and international atmosphere you can all stay at home, close the curtains and count your beans.”

    Tell me, when you go out on the piss do you expect me to help cover your costs? Do you think you are justified in moaning if I tell you to bugger off and pay for your own night out? Would I be justified in moaning if I were forced to pay for you under threats of violence? Especially if your carousing disturbed my peace and quiet?

    Money is being extracted from London Council Tax payers under threats of being frogmarched off to prison and/or having their houses confiscated just so you can have a party.

    And you are HAPPY with this situation? Any person I could respect would feel shame over this.

  • bierce

    So, in priciple, you don’t think public money should be spent on such things. OK, I hold a different view.
    I don’t crave your respect, but I’d buy my round.

  • Chris Harper


    “So, in priciple, you don’t think public money should be spent on such things”

    Quite right. I see no reason why the Olympics shouldn’t be a completely private initiative. This would not in any way detract from the skill. prowess or glory of the participents, and it would be paid for exclusively by those who had some sort of interest in the matter.

    I see no difference between this or any other sporting event. I have no interest in FA football, I contribute nothing to it, and I don’t see why this should change. Lets see the Olympics run the same way.

    I don’t expect you to pay for my entertainment, so if you want to watch em, you pay for em. And you party at the end at your own cost instead of picking my pocket.

  • guy herbert

    Money is being extracted from London Council Tax payers under threats of being frogmarched off to prison and/or having their houses confiscated just so you can have a party.

    And that’s just the half of it. Other money is being extracted from the British taxpayer in general to pay for other venues, policing, transport changes and so forth. Lottery funds are being redirected to the Olympics rather than spread over a wide range of other “worthy” activities, which are therefore likely to end up seeking other public funding. There are unmeasurable costs imposed on all of us who might be close to any of it by the disruption, the “security” measures, rerouting of traffic and so forth. And hundreds of businesses and thousands of people in the Lea Valley are in the course of being directly expropriated and expelled to make way for development. An entire page of the Times was taken up last week by a notice listing properties compulsorily purchased.

  • Pete_London


    The searchparties are out for you-know-who but tumbleweed is all they can find. Given the extravagant claims made (including the one that most of the costs will be covered by the private sector) I’d love to see HJHJ pop by and explain how this Observer piece fits in. Maybe he already has – which brings me neatly to …


    I’m off up the Arsenal this afternoon. I’ll email you later so we can arrange for you to contribute.

  • bierce

    Have a good trip. Should be easier now public transport’s improved since Ken started to sort the buses and congestion.

  • Chris Harper

    The only circumstances in which it is moral to spend significant sums of “public money” (wots that? ed.) is when necessary ends cannot be met via private means. All else is theft. With threats of violence.

    Not only can the Olympics be staged via private means but they are not necessary, merely desired by some.

  • bierce

    Why are private means so wussy they can’t meet all necessary ends?

  • Pete_London


    That you think Livingstone has improved public transport in London leads me to believe you live in Inverness. But that’s another debate.

    Your shyness when it comes to paying for someone else’s pleasure is noted.

  • Paul Marks

    Pru asked if I had read the Daily Star – I have not, but I do not doubt what she says.

    Someone else aksed if I liked North Korea – no it is even more statist than (for example) the United States.

    Although the gap may be shrinking.

    Assuming that the North Korean level of statism is 100% (which seems a bit unlikely – but I will accept it for the sake of argument). The U.S. level was about 25% in 1950 – and it is more like a third of output these days. Back in 1910 (according to the Tax Foundation) total taxes were about 5% of output and most budgets were fairly balanced (although there were such things as arbitary “Antitrust” laws even then).

    Some regulations (for example Jim Crow in the South) have gone. And new regulations (such as the “Civil Rights” “anti discrimination” laws have come instead).

    Overall some regs have gone, but far more have replaced them. The list of Federal regulations is far longer than in was fifty years ago.

    Eastern Europe is democratic and less statist than when it was not democractic – but the collapse of the previous system is the cause of this.

    I am willing to be convinced that democracy is working is a given nation.

    All I ask is to be shown the peaceful roll back of a Welfare State.

    If not then we are dealing with the “deline of Socialism and the rise of the Welfare Stare” that Hayek predicted in 1960 (Constitution of Liberty).

    In short full socialism (as in North Korea) leads to economic collapse, but people still want the government to provide education, health, welfare, pensions (and so on).

    Of course, this must also (in the end) lead to collapse – but I have yet to be shown evidence that (in the words of the old I.H.S. essay question) “Can Democracies Reform Themselves”.

    I am willing to be convinced – but I want evidence.

    Not cheap shots about liking North Korea.

  • Julian Taylor

    Should be easier now public transport’s improved since Ken started to sort the buses and congestion.


    I tend to find that all the Ken Livingstone supporters generally use either taxis, their own cars or in more extreme circumstances bicycles. Therefore they can solemnly declare their undying love for the him and his hare-brained schemes intended to reduce us to extreme socialist poverty equality without actually having to endure his policies.

    By the way I use the 24 bus regularly and it has constantly degraded in service since Ken came into power. I use the tube to get from Pimlico to Hammersmith and it doesn’t work (6 stops can take 30+ minutes on average – it used to take less than 15), I also occasionally drive and there really isn’t that much difference in traffic post congestion charge – only that you are £8 lighter per diem for it if you dwell outside the zone. Maybe you might just want to back up your comment with statistics proving what a wonderful job Ken Livingstone has done because, from where I’m standing, I think Maggie had exactly the right idea – cancel his office, cancel his administration and sell his building off to the Japanese (although what they would want with a building shaped like a Porsche headlight I wouldn’t know).

  • Chris Harper

    “Why are private means so wussy they can’t meet all necessary ends?”

    And this is supposed to be an argument in favour of your position that little old ladies on a pension should be paying for your party?

    Regardless of how many lies we are told about cost?

    How about we make Kenny boy, Tessa and the Greatest Tone personally responsable for the cost overruns instead of gouging the poor bloody taxpayer?

    That should focus their minds wonderfully.

  • If the Games were an earner,other than for the construction industry and Olympocrats,the private sector would be all over it,they are not.

    This will be another milch cow like Wembley Stadium Read and weep!

    Don’t know where bierce gets his ideas from,London Transport is a disaster,so much so it isn’t worth going to London unless one has to

  • Chris Harper

    “If the Games were an earner,other than for the construction industry and Olympocrats,the private sector would be all over it,they are not.”

    I would argue that this is because Government involvement has pushed the establishment costs sky high as each successive government has sought to create a grander spectacle than the last. It is all about statists indulging in their favourite sport of willy wagging at the expense of the poor bloody taxpayer.

    And yes, Tessa Jowel waves a willy as eagerly as the next statist.

  • Chris Harper,
    You don’t to need say the “phrase “public money to twice to planners and developers.
    The Olympic games has become the equivalent of those 16th and 17th century Royal tours of aristocratic estates,the owners would be broke by the time the entourage left.

    Why don’t high paid athletes pay an Olympics tax to help subsidise the games?

  • Verity

    Apart from the lunatic costs, which is the major reason for not having it, or financing it privately, the Olympics is beginning to have a fusty, dusty air of a has-been about it.

    According to scientists, ultimate times have either been achieved or will be achieved this time. Therefore, the competition is, essentially, over. The only alternative is to add more and more silly sports – synchronised swimming, doing a set of 10 nail extensions, fastest blow-dry, toe-wrestling, marbles, etc.

    But the most important point is, it is outrageous and unjust that the taxpayers in one country be forced to finance a spectacular for sports fans all over the world. This whole Olympic thing is vile.

  • Verity,
    There is also the bizarre situation where an Olympic champion can become a multimillionaire through sporting goods sponsorship,off the backs of the evicted poor.

  • Verity

    Peter – Yes, indeed. That is bizarre and outrageous. All in the holy name of “sport”.

    If these people want to watch people running around tracks and jumping over sandpits, why don’t they find a suitable plot of land with good access – Wyoming or Alberta or somewhere with lots of space – and build a stadium and an Olympic village and all that crap and hold the events there permanently. The rest of the time they could rent it out, or make it into an Olympic Disneyland – hey! there’s an idea!

    It would be self-financing (maybe even make a profit if Disney were involved) and out of everyone’s hair who doesn’t give a crap and they could have their little sportsfest for 365 days a year, and the big one every four years without disturbing the homes, lives and traffic of taxpayers.

  • Sandy P

    OH, my heart bleeds, BLEEDS, I tell you, for the commies who voted in Red Ken. They should be waiting in line pay up, since they love taxes so much.

    Now it’s time to put up or shut up.

  • J

    Julian –

    I’ve lived in London for 15 years, and the buses now are better than they have been for as long as I can remember. It may depend on the routes you take. I don’t know if Ken had anything to do with it, but the introduction of oyster cards was a very good thing, and they work well. The TFL website is also excellent.

    Another excellent thing (I think done in Ken’s reign, possibly earlier) was the decision to NOT re-design all the stations to look the same, which was being seriosly considered at one point.

    Ken has done many bad things: supporting the Olympics, spending our money on his own advertising, and building that ridiculous palace to politics on the South Bank. But he has made the buses much, much better. And as a cyclist/pedestrian/bus user, the congestion charge undoubtedly helps.

    We should also remember, that for all his failings, he’s still 100 times better than the GLA.

  • “Another excellent thing (I think done in Ken’s reign, possibly earlier) was the decision to NOT re-design all the stations to look the same, which was being seriosly considered at one point.”

    This is because they didn’t spend any money on them at all.

  • GCooper

    J writes:

    “the buses now are better than they have been for as long as I can remember…”

    Have you any idea how much of our money Leninspart is spending on this vile, insanitary, inconvenient mode of socialist utopia transport?

    The tube, meanwhile, is allowed to decay and fall under effective control of communist union leaders. Having lived in London for more than twice the time you’ve been here, allow me to confirm that it is easliy the worst it has ever been.

    ” And as a cyclist/pedestrian/bus user, the congestion charge undoubtedly helps.”

    A vegetarian too, perhaps?

    The ‘Congestion charge’ (otherwise, ‘car tax’) was introduced following strenuous efforts by legions if socialist planners to slow London’s traffic to the point they could make a case for it.

    The figures clearly show that traffic congestion was being caused, not by increasing numbers of cars but the effective crippling of their passage by bus lanes, ‘traffic calming’ and other calculated acts of wanton obstruction.

  • GCooper,
    Are there any figures for the effect the “Congestion charge” has had on businesses.Preferably with a breakdown vis a vie the difference between spending by the car trade and the bicycle trade.I have been told by not a few that they no longer go into London shopping.
    There is an ominous silence in this respect.

  • steve

    How many Londoners will actually go to the Olympics? Whatever the cost of building it all, servicing it, guarding it, etc, the admission fees will be pretty steep, I imagine. Most people in the capital will only get to see the events on TV or via some internet link-up… which is exactly how most people would have seen it all had the games been in, say, Paris.

    Sport is increasingly a TV/media phenom. You could even have it filmed against a green screen in a disused hangar and strip in the cheering crowds of mixed ethnicity for that real international flavour.

    At least it would guarantee good weather effects.

  • Julian Taylor

    But he has made the buses much, much better.

    I’m surprised that anyone could say that. I would agree that Livingstone’s first act in London was to claim that he was going to improve bus times and routes but that’s all he has done – agreed to improve. His apparent success has been limited to unbundling the bus fares from the underground system and reducing the bus zoning system from 6 zones to 2 separate ones.

    Certainly the Underground does not run better now and even under Kiley’s stewardship train lines are in worse condition than ever before, train times and routes are ridiculous – take a look at the cancellations for this weekend alone on the District Line where ‘no trains between Whitechapel and Earl’s Court’ has now become the expected weekend norm for the past 6 months. Added to that we now hear that Livingstone is planning to cancel the ‘Public Private Partnership’ [oxymoron] but how he is planning to recompense the private investors remains a mystery.

    His only other success, from what I can see, has been to give children under 16 free travel, but now we find out that effective from next year children up to 16 years old will be required to possess an Oyster Photocard (RFID with embedded photo on card) in order to travel in London – I can only presume that being able to monitor our children’s movements is a precursor to acclimatising them to the future Home Office ID card scheme that the Labour Party is currently experiencing recurring nocturnal emissions over. Everyone else will be required to use a registered Oyster card in order NOT to pay over £3 per journey on the undergound since currently you do not need to register a weekly or monthly Oystercard and thus Capita/Ken can not maintain statistics on your travel habits. Of course Ken Livingstone omits to tell us what steps will be taken to encourage tourists to London to purchase an Oystercard and save money, but I’d hazard a guess here and suggest that no attempt will be made at all.

    And as a cyclist/pedestrian/bus user, the congestion charge undoubtedly helps.

    No, it doesn’t. Buses generally have their own traffic lanes, which have now been blanketedly marked out across Central London, taking over the normal traffic lanes to the extent of significantly reducing any gains made from driving motorists off the streets through hitting them for £40 a week for permission to drive into London. The infamous Mercedes ‘bendy’ buses are now acknowledged by even Livingstone as actually contributing to the congestion, rather that helping to alleviate it, so that argument is redundant. As regards cyclists I fail to see how cyclists in London could ever be affected by congestion, indeed I have yet to see any cyclist who pay any attention to traffic lights, other road users , the Highway Code or shows even the slightest consideration for pedestrians.

    As a parting shot I might point you toward the recent survey that suggests that the majority of Londoners (some 81%) are against Livingstone’s plans to abolish the London Routemaster bus,

    If the worst rulers are former slaves, then the most arrogant politicians tend to be former men of the people. The title of Mr Livingstone’s first book — If Voting Changed Anything, They’d Abolish It — is looking eerily prescient. He made his name as a “cheeky chappy”, but his cheek is now largely directed at his own voters.

  • GCooper

    Peter wonders:

    “Are there any figures for the effect the “Congestion charge” has had on businesses…”

    The John Lewis Partnership commissioned a report from Professor Michael Bell, Professor of Transport Operations at Imperial College, which concluded that a 5.25% drop in sales was directly attributable to the car tax.

    No doubt there are other figures one could Google. Any from Transport For London, of course, will be lies.

    As for the Routemasters, a point raised by Julian Taylor,Livingstine is on record as promsing they would be kept. As ususal, he had his figers crossed behind his back when he said that.

    And the Oyster card? Again, as Mr Taylor says, it is nothing more than a tool for social control – a dry run for the police state Livingstone would impose at the drop of a hat if he could get away with it.

    And who knows? With idiots around who continue to support him, perhaps he yet might?

  • Tim

    The Olympics can make a profit if it were so desired.

    LA made a sizeable profit in 1984 as it was privately funded which of course meant that someone looked for every angle to save and make.

    The London Olympics are Keynsian in nature – maximising job creation.

  • GCooper,
    The figures are down London Chamber of Commerce and Industry

  • GCooper

    Peter writes:

    “The figures are down London Chamber of Commerce and Industry”

    And still the little fascist went ahead with his plans.

  • GCooper,
    Good little marxist,hit the middleman, take out the bourgeoisie.
    He is just waiting for the cycle past of the massed ranks of state employees.
    The Congestion Charge,the Olympics, Red Ken is like Wyle E Coyote witout the charm.
    Still in the distant future, when London is hamlet made of mud bricks on the Thames,explorers will be able to gaze on the ruins of the huge statue of Livingod,sadly broken up to make a sheep pen and wonder at the Glory that was Cretinopia.

  • Verity

    Frankly, anyone who has his (first, I believe) kid in his sixties is an ego-driven ponce who thinks he’s going to live forever. And his friend – I think in her mid-forties – a lovely young couple raising a family – is the head of Amnesty International in Britain.

    Yes ol’ Ken is destructive, all right. But now he’s got an ego-anchor to the future, yet he still wants to screw London. This tells me he is expecting the kid to be in the nomenklatura by inheritance. This tells me he is confident that the nomenklatura is now embedded.

  • mike

    Late to the thread I may be, but for anyone who hasn’t read today’s Sunday Times be prepared for yet more outrage/despair etc…

  • Mike,
    What about the car park?

  • mike

    A very fine development of momentous cultural significance to be welcomed by all 21st Century Londoners.

  • Verity

    Ali Mangera, the London and Barcelona-based architect who is designing the mosque, said: “… Islam has traditionally been at the forefront of technology and change.”

    Uh. Wait a minute … uh … no, seriously! Give me a minute …

  • They could have waited for St Pauls to become vacant.

  • Verity

    Not big enough. You need seething room.

  • Will the congestion charge be waived?

  • Verity

    Just nasal congestion, from all those ululations.

  • GCooper

    Mike writes:

    “Late to the thread I may be, but for anyone who hasn’t read today’s Sunday Times…”

    I never read the Za-NuLabour supporting rag.

    Then again, having just tossed the Sunday Telegraph across the room in disgust at the trashy mess Sarah Sands has managed to make of it in just three weeks, and having declined even to open the plastic bag of fashion mags that accompanies it, next week I might hold my nose and give Murdoch a try.

  • mike

    Well you do appreciate that you have to have a sense of humour to read the political articles in newspapers right? Likewise to stand for election to parliament…

    For the serious brow-monsters out there I suppose there’s always Private Eye…

  • Verity,
    Just for comparison :-
    Wembley Arena 12,750 capacity
    Wembley Stadium 79,000 capacity.
    So on a Friday night there will be 40,000 travelling to the area.I’m sure Ken will have taken this into account for the Friday rush hour.

  • Johnathan Pearce

    Bierce, why should sporting events – hardly a core state activity like policing or external defence – be paid for by Joe Taxpayer, including people earning below-average salaries? Care to explain that one in logical, polite fashion?

    Objecting to the tax costs of the Olympic junket has nothing to do with being a myserable person. I have had it with these folk who claim that is a form of “compassion” to push all manner of big public projects and then claim that the humble taxpayer should be grateful for the privilege of funding whatever happens to come into Tony Blair’s head.

    As a sports-lover, I’ll happily pay for certain events but I don’t expect other people to subsidise my pleasures.

  • Verity

    The Sunday Telegraph is an utterly dire waste of time . I mean, on the front page: “Cellar girls” – a story about sex slaves. Give me a break! A stream of tabloid vapidity.

    Sarah Sands is dire, and obviously doesn’t understand the paper she is editing. She was just a lightweight columnist, and now she’s editing one of Britain’s most famous national newspapers. I think the Barclay brothers must have a death wish because the tabloids do this sort of thing much better, for people who want it.

  • bierce

    Thanks for your clear question.
    Disappointingly, I haven’t a coherent answer. I’m trying to imagine a world without these major inspirational (to me) events and who would make them happen. I guess that sounds paternalistic/institutionalised

  • Johnathan Pearce

    bierce, the Atlanta Olympic games were paid entirely by private means rather than from the taxpayer, so it is possible to have big events like this without state funding. And the World Cup soccer tournament is pretty much all done via the private sector. The clubs also have to pay for policing, stewards and other stuff.

    It is not so difficult to do these events privately.

  • Verity

    Jonathan – I believe the LA Olympics were also privately financed and also turned a nice profit.

    Tony Blair has the communist mindset that “the state” should put on big, grandstanding “a mirror of today’s Britain” expensive spectaculars out of the pockets of taxpayers. He is a stated down to his communist fingertips – which is why, of course, he enjoys the special privileges he organises for himself, like the Queen’s Flight and so on.

    As Blair has never created a penny of wealth in his miserable life, and neither has Imelda, they do not understand how much energy it takes to compete in the real world, and how attached we are to the product of our labour – money.

  • Johnathan Pearce

    Verity, another point worth noting is that the Games are supposed, in theory at any rate, to celebrate individual achievement, taking part and so forth, rather than nationalism. In practice, these events invariably descend into nationalism, or are used for political purposes, etc. Witness anti-American posturing in the Greek games, for instance, or the Moscow Olympics, the Munich Games.

    I personally would like to see the Games reside permanently in Greece, to avoid the whole circus of bidding and nationalistic nonsense that goes on as countries compete to hold them. I guess that would be too simple.

    As for Blair, I very much hope he is out of Downing Street by the time the games go ahead. We can all dream.

  • Verity,
    Quite right too! When Our Beloved Leader passes on, we should bulldoze the Palace of Westminster and erect the worlds largest pyramid in his honour.It is the least the grateful people of Blairitania can do.

  • Verity

    Jonathan, yes, I agree with everything you say, especially the penultimate sentence. If he is still clinging on by his thin fingers, the world will be treated to a flashcard display, wielded by a cast of thousands, which will culminate in a massive portrait of The People’s Hero Little Father Tony Blair.

  • I just wonder how the the KSA Ladies Synchronised Swimming team will fare.

  • Verity

    And the high jump.

  • Verity,
    I believe that is the Iranian’s speciallity.

  • Verity

    Oh! I beg your pardon! That was terribly ignorant of me! I must have been thinking of the pole vaulting.

  • Verity,
    Yes it is amazing how many in Iran are for the High Jump.

  • bierce

    Nice to watch Verity and Peter auditioning for the remake of the Addams family.
    BTW, how is your war going?

  • Depart in a micturating manner bierce,there’s a good boy!

  • Midwesterner

    Ali Mangera, the London and Barcelona-based architect who is designing the mosque, said: “… Islam has traditionally been at the forefront of technology and change.”

    I don’t see any problem with this statement. He didn’t say which side of the front it is on. Or if it’s retreating.

  • Verity

    Fore means “ahead”.

  • Midwesterner

    Verity, a front is a division between to opposing forces. A forefront, (forward front) is a position of advance. By implication one is advancing against something.

    The statement is just fine as he said it. Technology and change are advancing against Islam (among other things).

    I said that we could accept his statement with the understanding that Islam is on the other side of the front. In other words, opposing “technology and change”. I continued by pointing out the possibility that they could be retreating.

    I didn’t think it was that complicated.

  • Verity

    Thanks for your lengthy, heavy-footed explanation of your previous post.

    Sometimes it’s better to leave other people’s aperçus alone. Those who restrain themselves seldom err.

  • Jacko the whacko

    Come on, Come on, Come on thank GOD fur us winning the 2012 bid yahooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo

  • Paul Marks

    Verity shares my doubts about the brothers B.

    I have doubts about them ever since they used “human rights” law to alter the terms of the tenure of their estate on Sark (people who do not respect the terms they accepted when they went to a place are not likely to respect principles in general).

    As it was a P.C. cause (their right to pass the estate on to a female) they got a free pass from almost everyone – but principles matter (and they used big government to sit on Sark).

    Yes lots of lightweight rubbish in both the Daily and Sunday Telegraph – not just S.S. with her endless talk about her “I pod” (“look at me, I am so modern”), but most of the rest of them.

    There is still some some good writing in the Telegraph papers – but most of the writing is New Blair Cameron stuff.

    I found some vouchers (I mean found – they were left on a train) some vouchers for 30p off the Daily Telgraph – but I have not used most of them. Even with 30p off it is not worth it.

    And then there is the old difficulty of holding a broadsheet (writing has to be rather good to justify that). And the new absurd supplements (as if the daily paper was trying to be a Sunday paper), which fall out when you unfold the thing.

    More importanly there is now not a single serious conservative minded newspaper in Britain (the Mail and the Express are populist and the Telegraph not serious any more).

    On London Transport:

    Yes lots of money spent on stations (Westminster, for example, has gone from being a small functional station to a vast third world dictator’s palace of a station) – but the lines between the stations continue to decay.

    The new “bendy” busses from Germany (bought to obey E.U. regulations) are not only highly expensive, they are also dangerious.

  • Verity

    The Telegraph has come out in support of David Cameron, which is all I need to know about them. This means the reason they haven’t been much harder on the authoritarian, interfering, control freakery of Blair and the thugs and chancers in the cabinet over the last few years is, they rather like ZaNu-Lab.

    The only conservative columnists they have writing for them now are the ineffable Charles Moore (for how long, I wonder) and Mark Steyn, who is currently working out his notice.

    What puzzles me is, the Barclay brothers are aware that there are plenty of papers that support NuLabour. With their apparently unstoppable acumen, do they really think the British public wants another one?

    On the other hand, The Speccie also plummetted once they got their hands on it, with the LabourLite Boris in charge. The Speccie is now almost unreadable, except Ron Liddle occasionally hits a six. Well, a four …

    Perhaps the Barclays should have stuck to property dealing.

  • Verity

    Speaking of the oily David Cameron, IDS has just backed him. Hopefully, this will turn a few tens of thousands of voters off him.