Politicians inspired by Team GB, look for long-term solutions to the economy

When all else fails where do politicians and economists turn for inspiration? – The Olympics.

The tag line ‘Inspire a generation’ seems to have worked well for the host Team GB, but more importantly it is a message  for our politicians. If the UK’s athletes can bring back the gold, why can’t we replicate the same for the economy?

In the past two weeks, guts, determination, commitment and hard work are some of the key elements that resonate with the success of Team GB, and now everyone from the Prime Minister to the Governor of the Bank of England, are not only revelling in the success of British athletes but seem to have found inspiration themselves in trying to find solutions for an economy in continuous decline.

In recent weeks, news of a shrinking economy, falling GDP rates, and slashed economic growth forecasts for the next two years has led even the Bank of England Governor Mervyn King to look to the Olympic triumphs to find some motivation.

“Unlike the Olympians who have thrilled us this week our economy has not yet reached full fitness but it is slowly healing,” he said two weeks back, after the release of poor economic growth forecasts for the next two years.

“It is to our Olympic team we must look for inspiration. They have shown what total commitment is before reaching our goals, which may lie a few years ahead,” he added.

Assessing the London 2012 Olympics in his end-of-Games speech, David Cameron said, “I only think you need two words to sum up these games, ‘Britain delivered.’ “We showed the world what we are made of, we reminded ourselves what we could do. And yes we have demonstrated you should never ever count team GB out,” he added.

When Chancellor George Osborne was quizzed  on BBC news about the triple AAA rating , shrinking economy and plans for growth, he deflected his attention to the Olympics. He said, “Well we’ve had disappointing GDP data and of course we are in these very challenging economic conditions round the world, but actually in Britain unemployment has been coming down. Seeing businesses exporting more to new emerging economies, the China and India’s which we need to do as a country, and  frankly I think the Olympic games has shown the world that Britain can do things well and get things right and deliver enormous projects on time and on budget and of course deliver some gold medals as well.”

And no one could feel more triumphant than the Mayor of London, Boris Johnson himself, as he delivered an amusing speech to thank Team GB and London 2012 volunteers. He reiterated that the Olympics showed the capital could “dazzle the world”.

Perhaps hinting at the recent economic situation and decline in growth forecasts, he added, “You have won more gold medals per capita than any country in the world.”

‘From boxing to cycling, you have brought home the great truth about this country that when we put our mind to something, there is absolutely nothing this country cannot achieve,” he added.

What have we learnt from this – Like the athletes who relentlessly train for four years to achieve the desired results, maybe it’s time politicians turned to making concrete long-term solutions, instead of short fixes of a period of a few months to a year, to revive growth for the economy.

Some may argue finding solutions or hope through Olympics is wishful thinking, but with no end in sight on where the economy is headed, it would be a hopeful start.


Olympic torch relay through Crystal Palace – London 2012

I was thrilled to learn of the Olympic torch passing through Crystal Palace Park. What caught my attention was the fact that it was a similar route I run and generally enjoy on my weekends.

Getting to the top after the run up the hill is exhilarating – a feeling  hard to put into words. Yesterday, the atmosphere was brilliant, only a prelude to events that are to unfold in the days to come. Home to Team Brazil during the Olympics, its not hard to find many athletes doing their practices in the afternoon at the Sports centre.

At one point the Crystal Palace Stadium was meant to be one of the best stadiums in London with great facilities for aquatics and athletics,  until the Olympics stadium  recently.

The video captures the atmosphere and torch relay route arriving from Bromley Hill, through the former Palace grounds and up Anerley Hill, making its way to Croydon

News other than the games making ‘Olympic headlines’

With exactly a week to the Olympics, everything from transport inefficiencies to security glitches and Small Medium Enterprises capitalising on Olympic branded items, has been making the front pages.

In the first week of July it was G4S security shortages, yesterday Guardian ran a story about former Slum Dog Millionaire Director Danny Boyle embroiled in a tug-o-war with Olympic Broadcasting Services trying to have cameras installed in specific locations.

And today, the UK Border forces have ceremoniously called for a strike a day before the start of the Olympics. It’s turning to be an Olympic shambles of all sorts with more media publicity on events in the build up to the games than the event itself.

A week ago Boris Johnson was trying to assure the International media and members of the public at the Olympic Media centre about British weather and food, saying, ‘There are more Michelin restaurants in London than Paris, and it rains more in Rome than here.’

One person who has been in the spotlight is Home Secretary Theresa May. In the wake of a series of tumultuous events from security to UK border force, she might be spending many sleepless nights. Daily Mail always a step ahead, with an angle more unusual than the rest.

And if that was not enough, the Middletons’ have come under fire again, as the family firm has published images featuring Olympic festive bunting and party kits, said to be a breach of law unless they are official sponsors of the event.

Well, I checked Amazon sports website, who aren’t official sponsors and are retailing 2012 and Team GB branded sportswear. Inside sources have confirmed LOCOG permissions have been sorted. Who knows, that might be a similar case for the Middletons?

Oh well, just can’t wait for the games to begin now, atleast the focus will be on the games rather than all the drivel in the build up to it. As Vauxhall MP Kate Hoey put it two weeks ago in the House of Commons, “I am worried the security is overshadowing the sporting nature of the Games.”

Of all the woeful bits, one that had me in laughter was the Olympic tattoo on the arm of an American national, which was spelled as “Oylmpics”. In an interview with BBC news, she confessed she hadn’t noticed until her friend brought it to her attention. 

Olympics chaos – G4S to face penalties

Following the Commons’ home affairs select committee inquiry with G4S Chief Executive Nick Buckles, there are chances the Sports Minister Hugh Robertson will activate ‘penalty clauses’ after the private security firm failed to provide enough security guards.

Robertson said the government is determined to recoup money from the contract in light of events that have transpired in the past two weeks, but denied any rumours of his resignation saying ‘stability’ was needed to ensure the Olympics are safe and secure.

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Yesterday, Buckles insisted on claiming the management fee of £57 million, when questioned by Labour MP Keith Vaz, who chaired the Home Affairs committee.

‘Frankly I find that astonishing’, said Vaz.

Buckles said, ” We still expect to deliver a significant amount of staff.”

With less than ten days to the London 2012 Olympics, the world’s largest security group has come under intense scrutiny after alerting the Members of the Parliament two weeks ago about its inability to meet the required numbers of security workforce.

At the inquiry yesterday afternoon, several questions were raised about the company’s recruitment procedure, lack of communication and follow up procedures, internal systems failures , lack of staff attendance – much of which Buckles was not aware of and was only brought to his attention two weeks ago, while on holiday.

Not surprisingly, many of the members of the committee were infuriated  when Buckles said he would claim the management fee for the project. Another member of the committee said the entire G4S security operation was a shambles. To which Buckles conceded, “I cannot disagree more.”

At times it seemed like Buckles was making the answers or deciding the course of action as questions were thrown at him from members of the Select Committee. Vaz asked him, “Is this a decision you are making now?” To which Buckles insisted, “This is a very unique operation.”

As a result of the shortcomings on delivery of the required number of security forces, Buckles agreed an additional compensation for military and armed forces. All in all the company which set out to make an initial profit of 10 million after winning the contract with LOCOG is now estimating losses between £35 – 50 million, issued in a press statement yesterday.

Buckles tried to reassure the committee, insisting G4S will provide and safe and secure Olympics “We are confident we can get atleast 7000 people on the day, that is our expectation,” he insisted.

“Expectation is not the greatest word when we have such an event of a big scale. ” Vaz scoffed.

MP Nicola Blackwood questioned if any of its operations had gone wrong previously, to which Buckles strongly denied so. She added, “Why are you waiting for the government to tell you what to do?

Unacceptable, incompetent and amateurish were the three words used by Vaz to describe the G4S security operation at the inquiry far from their original tagline ‘Securing your world,’ featured on its website.

In conclusion to the inquiry, Vaz informed Buckles the Select Committee will continue to monitor the performance of the security firm closely.

Today the Commons home affairs select committee has recalled the CEO and Home Secretary for further questioning in September after the Olympics and Paralympics.