Thursday, August 30, 2012

Colourful Coleman is right to meddle in Olympics

After all the ballyhoo of the Olympics – much of it deserved – comes an interview with Brian Coleman in this newspaper which surprisingly reveals him as a man of many parts (see here)

A man given to the starkest and most colourful of pronouncements, he has been seen either as an attention-seeker or a conviction politician of the right likely to upset opponents.

This week, however, he makes a number of reasonable assertions about the Olympics that are either being ignored or pooh-poohed by politicians, many of his persuasion.

True to his old self, he goes overboard when he derides the impact of the extraordinarily devised opening ceremony on the nation.

But who can say he is wrong when he asks where is the promised “economic bounce” of the Olympics?  

Anyone who lives in central London or walks through the West End would agree that the streets are relatively free of traffic, and that hotels, restaurants and shops have lost a lot of business.

Anxious for the feelgood success of our sportsmen and sportswomen to rub off on them, politicians – including Mr Coleman’s old boss, Boris Johnson – are making silly sound-bites about the economic gains the Games will bring to our economy.

Government spokespeople denounce critics as talking “nonsense” when they say too much business is being lost.

Their critique isn’t nonsense. It is Whitehall ’s denial that is “nonsense”.

The £10billion cost of the Games will not be made up by sponsorships, sales of tickets, and mass tourism, either now or to come.

But Mr Coleman also finds his target when he accuses the BBC and newspapers of going over the top in their coverage.   

Tabloids and broadsheets alike, who devote several news pages as well as supplements to Olympic coverage, may well have misjudged the interest of readers.

For once Mr Coleman isn’t a stranger to commonsense.

Published in the Camden New Journal newspaper 9th August 2012


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