One day, the British public will wake up and realise that Olympics economic arguments are as convincing as conjuring tricks on the radio.
People working from home during the Olympic Games wiped £1billion off the UK economy this year, says the Centre for Economics and Business Research (CEBR).
It suggests that lost revenue from tourists – and a drop in productivity from people either working from home or taking holidays during the games – has cost the UK economy £1billion this year. This would take the total price tag for the games –which had a revised budget of £10billion – to an official level of 11 billion; but I can tell you categorically that it is already £12.4bn even without that additional cost.
To be even-handed, if you look at other venues and travel markets thus far in 2012, I do think the CEBR is overestimating the Games as a depressant factor for London/the UK: every major City in Europe has seen a catastrophic fall-off in visitors and spend per tourist. It’s called ‘EU madness and an imploding eurozone’: everyone’s worried, and nobody has money to spare…outside the lucky 3% of MoUs.
But the massive significance of these data concerns the fact that – after years of bollocks about London 2012 being a moneyspinner – it is now not even being presented as ‘a future return on investment’. The line has slipped somewhat, and become ‘the games could pay for itself by 2021 by helping London generate an extra £1.8billion a year by 2015.’
Er….smashing. But, um, two things here. Wasn’t it going to boost the London economy massively on the day…until, that is, Bellowing Boris blew everyone out of Central London for the duration? And, how exactly will the ‘extra’ £1.8bn be generated by 2015? It seems this is all down to the regeneration that will magically occur in East London. Why will this occur? “Because,” says the CEBR, “we have published more than 20 reports over the last 15 years on the regeneration of East London and we have been following the issues carefully.”
Right. And that’s it, is it? The Montreal Olympics in 1976 led to the city’s bankruptcy. The Athens Olympics coincided with the beginnings of the Greek spending boom that eventually led to the Greek economic crisis…and an extremely unexpected growth in the bank account of one Evangelo Venizelos. The Sydney Olympics merely fuelled the blind poolswinner sentiment there that turned it into a clone of London in 1987 – with property prices today on a par with 17th century Dutch tulips.
However, even if this ‘and then a miracle occurs’ analysis proves to be correct, we will still only be at break-even by 2021. So finally at last and in the end, the Olympics wasn’t an investment was it? No of course it bloody wasn’t: it was more Blairite bread-and-circuses crap – to be followed by such huge Camerlot cuts in sport and playing fields support, we can be about as certain as is possible in this odd world that our medal haul will be the last one to put us 3rd in any competition, anywhere. And if you don’t accept that analysis, look how Murdochian economics has left England – the inventors of football – in the Third Division of international talent.
Both the fluffies of 2005 and the hypocrites of 2012 are going to get away with this amazing feat of legerdemain. Johnson and his “we proved the naysayers wrong” nonsense, Hunt and his idiotic “you’re all quids-in”, Tessa Jowell and her “it’ll only cost £4.5bn – what a bargain for Britain” bollocks, and Moral Tone’s “my great legacy” hubris.
Let’s be clear about this, as the Prince of Camerlot would say: our athletes did a job that went way beyond astonishing. Mo Farah may lack Oscar Wilde’s wit, but he’s a damn sight better role model than those who give up by diving into a lake of self-pity. But Locog, the pols, the Mayor and the Culture Secretary? Wrong on security, wrong on transport chaos, wrong on the economic benefit….but inordinately long on trying to steal the credit.
I am delighted for every British competitor who’s been given the chance to realise an ambition…especially those who defied the experts as to their ultimate abilities. They are the Nobby Stiles 1966 tendency brought forward to 2012: true grit and serious dedication squeezing every last drop of potential from the talent available. But if this Olympic Games merely becomes the springboard for an intelligent oaf to become Prime Minister, then every doubt I had about it from the venue award seven years ago will have been vindicated.
Still, nil desperandum. There is always the Green bonus to consider. Unfortunately, it’s Lord ‘The Baron’ Green we’re looking at here, rather than any benefit to put into the bewildering climate change ledger. Perhaps from 2015, we will have established our own home-grown drugs business with the help of Colombian invesment. That’d be a cash bonanza without strings, wouldn’t it? No doubt in a few years time, when he is King Boris of Greek Britain, the Blond Bummer can invite his personal friend and much-maligned south American sporting personality Alonzo di Poudro-Marchio to join him on the Balcony of Boris Palace with that fine centagenarian Rupprecht Merdeschlock.