OLYMPICS: Business slump rocks Hunt, Johnson


A idiotic*unt

There’s an ad on the Google search page this morning, from Thistle Hotels. It says simply, ‘50% off London Olympics Hotel Rooms’. The first of the great myths about London 2012 has already been shattered by some business statistics released last night: Mayor Johnson’s ubiquitous ‘Don’t Get Caught Out’ has, as it were, caught him out: dare I say even, left him hanging out to dry?

Commenting at the Daily Telgraph last night (beneath a piece about Boris being politically ‘unstoppable’) I posted, “He and Hunt are just one disaster away from being hostages to fortune”. Crikey, that was quick.

So terrified have Londoners been by BoJo’s warnings to stay away from anything going on in London, they’ve snapped to attention and, um, stayed away. Last night, I understand, Basher Boris was locked behind closed doors at City Hall, having a crisis meeting with his commercial ‘advisers’. But it’s hard to know what there might be to discuss: this is a mess the London Mayor got into entirely by his own hand.

The figures are not good. The British Hospitality Association says restaurant takings are down between 40 and 65%, hotels have a lot of spare capacity, and inbound tour operators confirm that “tourists have been put off by the scare tactics of Transport for London”. A  further study by O2 demonstrates that Johnson’s dire warnings  have had a major effect on Londoners’ work patterns: the research projects that some four million people in the commutable area are working at home during the Games. Thus, tourist attraction Madame Tussauds describes itself as “very quiet”, but M&S sources also say that the store groups usual lunchtime take-away market for London office workers “has all but disappeared”.

But nil desperandum, because you can always rely on Jeremy *unt to be the complete version, just when you thought things couldn’t get any worse. Newscorp majorette Jeremy said that London retailer gripes were unjustified, and that they were “doing very well indeed on the whole”. Oh dear. That’s what comes from spending life in the Zil lane.

Richard Bradford of the  Restaurant Association heard what Culcha *unt had to say, and then promptly called the Culture Secretary an idiot. “This is total rubbish. There has been a serious fall in trade,” he said.”They encouraged the British to stay out of London, which removed the regular trade we rely on.” Oh dear. That’s what comes from only worrying about privileged VIPs. But unabashed, Mr Canute waded more deeply into the poo:

“This is absolute nonsense and we have just got to knock this on the head. Anyone who has a business anywhere in London is frankly quids in,” he drivelled. Oh dear. That’s what comes of trying to black out the media, Jezzer: they get their own back before too long.


Three days ago, Boris told the assembled media that “the only problem with the London Olympics so far is the lack of Team GB medals”. Note that this is the only bit he had nothing to do with, by the way: except that this situation has improved somewhat since then: whereas the Mayor has made a complete tit of himself, waving flags about on a defective wire – described by Harris Mooney at the Vancouver Sun yesterday as “just another rickety British innovation showcased at a shabby Games.” Paresh Nath Mukherjee, general secretary of the Archery Association of India, joined other athletes in criticising the Village Quarters: “If the accommodation at the Commonwealth Games was five-star, on that scale the accommodation here at the Games Village is not even two-star,” he said.

The truth is – as The Slog correctly maintained earlier in the week – Hunt and Johnson have taken the classic neocon attitude to the 2012 Olympics: ignore the oridnary citizens, provide a sufficiency for the athletes, sell out to the sponsors, butter up the big multinationals at the expense of local business, and shower the money-men with tickets and go-faster lanes. You couldn’t ask for a better encapsulation of everything logically and ethically wrong with Friedmanite economics.

As long ago as April, the Academy of Medical Royal Colleges said that ‘irresponsible marketing’ by major food and drinks firms was fuelling the obesity crisis. It called for a ban on firms such as McDonald’s and Coca-Cola from sponsoring major sports events such as the Olympics.

“It feels pretty shameful that [the Olympic Park in] London will have the biggest McDonald’s in the world,’ said BMA director of professional activities Vivienne Nathanson, ‘The Olympics was a great opportunity for promoting exercise and a healthy diet. The message would not be “eat this because you will be an elite athlete”, but more about making healthy choices, which means you could take part in sports, and you could have fun and be healthy. It is such a major opportunity and it has been missed.”

And the irony is, the ‘commercial’ side of things is – as I predicted from Day One in 2005 – a complete balls-up: costs way over budget, income way under budget, and London’s economy screwed by a manic focus on keeping the Big Money comfortable. But the likes of Boris Johnson never learn: his personal guest today? Why, none other than that tragic Alzheimers victim, Rupert Murdoch. Perhaps Roop can get the Sun and Times to chuck Bojo some nice spin. Maybe Daniel Finkelstein can write another vacuous piece about miserable people slagging off a wonderful spectacle.

Anyway, all is not entirely lost: the man hired at enormous cost to present a sound investment front for the Games, former Drugs-to-Laundry combine boss Lord Green, is I hear hard at working pumping the flesh. But it seems that up until January 2012, he was still troughing with the chaps from HSBC: he dined with the current Chairman Sir Willie Purves in fact….just weeks before the bank fessed up to being charged with money laundering for drugs lords. Green has refused to say what was discussed on that occasion, refused to answer questions in the House of Lords, refused to attend the Lords at all in fact – and refused to accept that he might be under a cloud. Or between Chinese Walls, or something.

Makes you proud to be hosting the Games, dunnit eh? Hands off our Olympic Games, that’s wot I say.



66 thoughts on “OLYMPICS: Business slump rocks Hunt, Johnson

  1. One tries so hard to be fair, but this does look like an disastrous own-goal. My eyes were opened as early as last Friday – on the evening of the opening ceremony – when I had to travel to Highgate at around 6:00pm, which ought to have been the height of the rush hour. In my carriage on the Central Line, there were only 3 other people. At Stratford there was hardly anybody. It was little different coming home, around 11:00pm. There were more people, but still seats to spare. Over the weekend, everything was dead.

    Yet the hysteria about overcrowding went on for days. Boris’ personal announcements on the underground were only discontinued about Wednesday.

    Warning signals via data on airline bookings, hotel reservations and rentals would have been available weeks in advance. Was nobody looking?


  2. “You couldn’t ask for a better encapsulation of everything logically and ethically wrong with Friedmanite economics.”

    Oh, I see, you are not really interested in the Olympics, you are too busy with an agenda.


  3. The Euro closing ceremony,sometime in the second half of September,will knock the London ‘Zil’ Olympics into a cocked hat.


  4. The Times has been cheer-leading for the Olympics for weeks and this week Times 2 has been just a wrapper for “the games”. The dirty digger touting for VIP tickets?

    I have to say that the articles in the Times games supplement have mostly been top quality and not totally positive on the Olympics however Simon Barnes (who I greatly admire) has been wearing his Royal and Olympic rose-tinted spectacles.


  5. Satirical site sums it up pretty well…

    LONDON’S daredevil mayor and Jeremy Hunt are to team up as the world’s least effective superhero duo, following public demonstrations of their respective superpowers.

    Johnson’s alias could be ‘Massive Helmet’

    Johnson, whose special power was revealed to be ‘hanging suspended’ is to be teamed up with Jeremy Hunt, whose special powers are ‘clinging on to his job’, and ‘hurling large metal bells at innocent bystanders’.

    Johnson said: “The combination of my awesome powers of hanging helplessly above things, like some sort of nightmarish Christmas decoration, combined with Jeremy’s ability to hurl heavy bells at people minding their own business, will be unstoppable.

    “London needs superheroes – too many honest citizens are scared to go into the city. That’s possibly because I’ve created a sense of paranoid hysteria about travel during the Olympics, but crime could be a factor too.

    “Wherever there is strife, wherever there is injustice, Jeremy and I will be there, either dangling helplessly above it, or throwing a large brass bell at somebody near it.

    “Names are still an issue. I’m toying with ‘Hanging Johnson’, ‘Suspendo’ or simply ‘The Dangler’.

    “Jeremy is just going to go with ‘Bell’, which means he won’t have to change what’s written on his locker at work.”

    “I’m as deliriously excited about this as I apparently am about absolutely everything else.”


  6. Reminds me of the Eclipse and the Millennium, all talked up by useless bullsh*tters and ruined by over expectation and fear.

    I’m sure Camerlot & Co will sort out something to boost sales, they did a magnificent job with fuel sales earlier in the year.


  7. Yea well I understood that all those fast food deals, Zil lanes, ticket allocations are all part of the deal struck to get the Olympics in the first place, in fact they are all prerequisites of holding a games. And the only guys still around from that successful bid are Seb Coe and locog. I notice they don’t get a mention here, although Boris and Friedman do. The only thing I can really see as Boris’s responsibility is telling Londoners to stay away, which may have been an error, but in the scale of our current politicians errors a pretty damn minor one.
    I know he’s got a posh accent, went to the bullingdon club and is a tory so for anyone North of London that makes him evil, absolutely no questions asked (that type of bigotry being totally acceptable) and for all I know he might be. But if your going to do a hatchet job on him at least find something decent which will stick. Otherwise you start to make him look quite good.


  8. Trouble is its usually the Cultural Marxists that are the ones who are fat and obese just look at Diane Abbott, Emily Thornberry and some of the other Labour wimmin.


  9. In Boris’ own words, in a BBC News interview last Saturday, our Boris said that we could call him ‘jingoistic and a chauvanist’.

    I think that is pretty good for starters.


  10. I sometimes wonder if the Olympics is just one part of a long term social experiment to find out just how much bo**ox and bull**it the British will put up with. But I expect this is a sign of incipient paranoia on my part.
    Still, if Zil lanes etc are a necessary prerequisite to having the Games, as Soapy McT notes above, I can’t help wondering if they’re really worth having.
    The myth put about from c2005 onwards that the Games would bring a surge in trade was not seriously believed even by those who said it, and BoJo’s “stay away” warnings dismissed any lingering hopes.
    I heard a Greenwich shopkeeper – who is also an Olympic volunteer – describe how visitors were herded to the Olympic site along a route between barriers, and more or less forcibly prevented from visiting the town itself, which was ready and hoping for an Olympic boom.


  11. While the games bonus has been illusory for many businesses (traffic is low, footfall down 20% I heard from one retailer today) and Boris and others (the “Olympic Family” perhaps for stopping anyone, anywhere using “London”, “Games”, “2012”, “Olympic” ANYWHERE in their own promotions for fear of upsetting the IP Lawyers at Coke and MickeyDs) are partly to blame, businesses have not helped themselves (but are happy to have a moan now).

    Friends were due in from the US on business this week and knew of this 9 months ago. Knowing it was the Games, they booked a hotel room, a Novotel, but could only do so on condition they paid up front and in full with no refunds.

    Forgive me but that hardly encourages people to come and stay/spend money and businesses now moaning about lost business should also take a look at themselves.


  12. Early last week my sister tried to fly from New York to London. Couldn’t get a seat. Airline reps informed her that Olympic participants both officials and athletes were double booking, triple booking, quadruple booking – booking up to six different airlines resulting in empty seats where there shouldn’t be.
    She wouldn’t take a risk on a standby booking so took a twenty seater commuter to Toronto and then eventually ended up in Frankfurt. Hire car and Bus.


  13. Down here in Weymouth, which is hosting the olympic sailing events, it’s all gone horribly wrong! Some un-named ‘expert’ was consulted by LOCOG and came up with an estimate of 30,000 visitors each day. A bit of research would have shown that previous sailing events resulted in about 4,000 at most. Consequently most of the usual holidaymakers have stayed away ( believing the hype), and local businesses are up in arms. About 4,000 have turned up but they’re all out of town at the LOCOG-run ‘viewing area’, which is a local public park that LOCOG have taken over and fenced off so they can charge a whopping entrance fee. (They even restrict the amount of food and drink you can bring in, ensuring that you buy from the on-site vendors!).
    The local council are now back-pedalling furiously, but the damage is done.
    Greed and stupidity combined i.e., business as usual.


  14. Someone on R4 yesterday was saying that the business boost (from increased tourism) happened in the years following the hosting of the Olympics, I don’t know if this is true but it sounded like serious backpedalling to me.

    They should keep the Zil lanes though, they could charge a daily rate to use them (in addition to the congestion charge), maybe £10 per day rising to £130 when a politician or other VIP wants exclusive (free) use of them would be acceptable.

    There should be pedestrian charges as well, Oxford St. gets mightily busy at certain times (mornings, evenings and during the day mainly) so perhaps a £5 daily charge to walk down there (it could be free at the quiet times, 2:00AM to 5:00AM but you would have to dodge the street cleaners)

    Londoners voted for Boris, they deserve all they are getting.


  15. meanwhile, overseas visitors booking a “package” from Thomas Cook are being ripped off with vastly overpriced deals and shoddy customer care . Letters of complaint posted to their CEO, Lord Coe and ABTA – little good it will do us but will make us feel better !


  16. @JW: In your desperation to blame everything ‘Olympics’ onto the Tory Party, you forgot to mention that it was Blair who went for it, totally ignoring that London is completely unsuitable to hold such an event due to massive security requirements & shoddy road/rail transport etc.

    Looks like would-be foreign spectators have watched the news about missile batteries on peoples’ roofs, the G4S security nonsense, army on the streets, closed roads etc and decided to stay away. Ditto Brits and London residents.

    Result: empty seats, empty hotel rooms, empty bars/restaurants, sales downturn in other shops.

    Looks like another taxpayer bailout is on its way…..


  17. Sorry to hear it’s not going well there… but, to be perfectly honest… it is working out great for us here in Greece… right before the Olympics started, hotel bookings here in Corfu flew up… almost all the good folks that came out on holiday have told me they are here to escape the Olympics mess (and they got sick of rain)… this is going to be a big help for regular folks here that were literally scared of having enough to eat over winter (as we only have 5 or 6 months to make a years money over here). Thank you British tourists for coming to Corfu… we love you.


  18. No one cares a toss about the bloody Olympics.We never were asked whether we wanted them. I was rootiing for anyone but the UK in 2005. I wish Spain had won. mThat would have accelwerated the euro denouement.


  19. brilliant! just proves milton friedman was right once again when he said the government couldn’t run whores on a troop ship profitably!

    he also said if the government was given the job of managing the sahara within 5 years they would say there wasd a shortage of sand!


  20. John. Willie ‘Purves has not been Chairman of HSBC since the mid 90s. He ran it (well) from Hong Kong from 1985 and was responsible for getting the takeover of Midland cleared in 1992 when they moved theirHQ to London aheafd of the 1997 takeover. Expect the HQ to move back to HK within 3-5 years. (Stan Chart will move to Singapore.)


  21. Perhaps. There has also been a shocking level of ignorance as to what actually constitutes a healthy diet for humans – what used to be common knowledge has been too easily lost.

    Interesting though now, that even some of the thickest in the land now know that it’s carbohydrates that’ll make you fat – witness the slogan from last year’s TOWIE, “no carbs before Marbs” (they were off to the beach in Marbella, see).


  22. i live in Edinburgh ,we have our own problems with the “festival”which runs every year for the month of august, where as the Olympics is a once in a life time ,the city centre is absolute chaos as the roads have been dug up now for four years so as the rails for the trams can be laid ,this project was supposed to cost £ 345 million but will cost over a billion pounds for 14 miles of track . ,i was made redundant because the trams killed business and loads of shops have closed down who do we have to thank for this ? a labour/snp/liberal coalition council ,


  23. I feel for the English people losing money in their business’s in this mess… we had a lot of negative press in the run up to the Athens Olympics in 2004… the whole world, even up til it started, was yelling we weren’t ready, not prepared for security, that accommodations weren’t available, the transport incomplete… and then even though all the people in Greece went all in with their investments into their business, shops, etc. … although it went off without a hitch, no one showed up… all that negative press right after 9/11 killed it… and since the whole country had put everything on the line to show the world that we could get the job done, and done right… no one recovered… so my sympathies are with the regular folks having to suffer through this kind of thing.


  24. @OAH: “Expect the HQ to move back to HK within 3-5 years.”

    Absolutely agree. It’s been on the cards for a while. they’ll probably time it roughly to coincide with Labour winning the next election.

    I wonder if their new HQ will be taller than the Bank of China? ;-)


  25. My Brother works at the national portrait gallery and relies on overtime to get by. Fairly worried right now as its the quietest he has ever known it :/


  26. I’ve always hated the fact that junk food is placed front and centre at any and all sporting events. The lucoazade bottles that Premiership footballers drink from are the zenith– they’re filled with WATER, but as long as everyone else is drinking the sugary s**te it’s all good! It’s a crappy message to be sending to people, young kids especially, but there’s no real way to get around it.

    Those companies have such huge marketing budgets that they will always come out on top in any sponsorship deal. And if they weren’t there a lot of sports would really struggle to have any meaningful revenues.

    I hate it but if they weren’t there, the taxpayer would likely be even further in the red on the Olympic bill.


  27. Indeed. After years of us being lectured by government about eating healthier diets and to avoid all those nasty fatty junk foods we now see junk food vendors taking top-slots at Olympic venues and people refused entry if they bring in their own healthier food choices. The message here is that if you want to eat at the Olympics, you must eat junk food and fizzy drinks.


  28. agree on the timing. look for boc to take a position in hsbc one of these days.Sing govt will take effective control of stan chart.


  29. Well I’m enjoying it.regardless. Great to see the Kiwi’s winning plenty of medals and today overtaking the Aussies on the medal table! Yay!
    I think it’s a shame that Hunts parents didn’t call him Warwick


  30. Just Sayin: You’re absoultely right. All children should be given a pack of cigarettes, a case of bitter, a kebab and a syringe full of heroin on their first birthday. Get them straight into it.


  31. IMO its seems that the Olympics are not so much about promoting the local communities (culture, local products, etc etc) and have visitors or people watching it on TV say hey I wouldn’t mind heading over there next year to experience a pub night or whatever else gets showcased; rather the large corporates rely on advertising to the large TV audience worldwide, and this is the only thing they are concerned with.

    Hearing stories of how local bakers as one eg where forced to remove all products from sale/view that had anything to do with the olympic symbol slaps in the face as to what the olympics are meant to represent.

    So I boycott all sponsors and will not buy any of their products.


  32. no, please…this is outrageous, i’m the superhero with superior powers…it’s only right that i am the one to pair up with bobin


  33. I remember back in 2004 and the lead up to it and how negative everyone was to the Athens Olympics. I guess what goes around comes around then huh!!!

    Folks one of the key and fundamental ideals for the Olympics was the ceasing of war between people, to unite and try to sort out differences. I cannot see this in its current form.


  34. Thomson’s is good, if you need help get back to me… be glad to help further. I recommend Kassiopi, and San Stefano (NE coast).


  35. but it’s not about winning, it’s about taking part….. No it’s about winners and loosers. we bought ( yes I meant bought as in Citizenships offered and money for little incidents) fast runners from Africa to win medals for the country… I refuse to accept any adulation and envy from other nations due to the amout of clutter Team GB accumulate. People who gain adulation from just doing their job/sport is crass. Now if it was amatures…Of if they brought world peace….


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