London Olympic Anniversary: Where’s the Grassroots Legacy?

 

 

 

Here we go again. After one year of relative inaction, the government sycophantic friendly media is gearing up the hype for the One Year Anniversary of the London Olympics. But bringing Usain Bolt, Mo Farah, Jessica Ennis and the rest of the gang back into the Olympic Stadium does not a sporting legacy produce. Nor does hyping up the sporting exploits of a bunch of South African ex-pats plying their trade under the Union Jack amount to much of a sporting legacy. No more than does throwing up a bunch of soulless housing towers in and around the old industrial wastelands of Stratford and the lower Lea Valley wipe out decades of East London deprivation. All of this ‘activity’ is nothing but transient glitter in order to mask the fact that community sport is being decimated by government cuts, and that the obesity time bomb is ticking louder and louder with a mighty explosion almost certain to rip apart the already over-stretched, under-funded National Health Service. All the better to privatise it, I hear the Corporates and their Tory ministers whisper. And of course, the whispering is getting louder every day.

 

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The Unethical Games in an Unethical World

Three half decent articles recently popped up in the mainstream media last week each detailing the ‘unethical’ nature of some of the key Olympic sponsors. In the immediate firing line were McDonalds and Coca Cola for their obesity producing junk food, Dow Chemicals for its refusal to compensate for the victims of the Bhopal chemical explosion, mining giant, Rio Tinto, makers of Olympic medals, for its economic and environmental destruction in developing countries and of course, Adidas, makers of Team GB kits, for the slave labour conditions in their Asian sweat shops.

 

It’s good that these issues are being aired in some sections of the national media. But by highlighting these few easy targets it prompts its readers to imagine that there are responsible, ethical corporate sponsors out there. This is an obvious falsity that allows us to be seduced by Will Hutton’s and Ed Milliband’s notion of a ‘good capitalism’, a ‘responsible capitalism’, an ‘ethical capitalism’. It’s all a mirage. It doesn’t exist. Capitalism simply cannot operate other than the way it currently does. To do otherwise would invite bankruptcy at the hands of its global competitors. That is the nature of global capitalism and right now, despite some heroic resistance from the likes of Cuba, Venezuela, Argentina and Bolivia, it is the only game in town. Capitalism in the 21st century is, by definition, global monopoly capitalism, and those companies and corporations that don’t play by the rules will quickly go under. Ed Milliband and Co cannot wish that reality away. I’m damn sure Ed’s old man would agree with me on this one hundred percent.

 

Let’s have a closer look what these articles have to say. Richard Godwin, writing in The London Evening Standard 18/4/12 is particularly sharp in his journalism. He writes;

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Ping London Goes National

So perhaps there is a God after all. At least someone up there or out there is starting to answer my daily prayers. It’s a simple prayer to the Almighty One:

 

‘ Dear Creator of all things, please tell Lord Coe, Cameron, Boris and the rest of the self satisfied Old Etonians to stop fluffing about pretending there will be a sporting legacy from the London Olympics and instead spend a few quid on community sports and leisure, because there won’t be a sporting legacy from the Olympics – there never is. There wasn’t one in Sydney or Athens, Los Angeles or Moscow and I doubt if there will be much of one from Beijing. Just big ugly stadia that nobody wants and nobody needs. In fact, Oh Lord, the truth is that rather than motivate people to get fit and active, there is a greater propensity for us to sit on our collective big fat arses and watch the entire Olympic Games on our new plasma TV’s from the comfort of our sofas while McShit and Coca Cola attempt to make us even more obese than when the whole thing started.’

 

I say this little prayer every night before I go to my bed and sure enough the Omniscient One answered. And what did the Almighty One say to me? 

 

‘You must understand my son that the Olympic Games are nothing but a corporate jamboree to take your mind off the ever worsening global recession, the wholesale network of corporate tax evasion and the mass unemployment that is sweeping your planet, and all of it paid for by your ever growing taxes. My advice to you my son is to give the whole thing a big thumbs-down and get on and enjoy some free local exercise.’

 

Ok I reply, but what do you suggest?

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Tottenham Versus West Ham Is No Choice At All.

It’s amazing how easy it is to manipulate people into choosing between two totally unacceptable alternatives. A classic example would be the economic and political choice between Tory cuts and Labour cuts. It’s a clever ploy. By presenting one draconian programme of cuts against a slightly less draconian programme the electorate conveniently forgets who was responsible for the economic mess in the first place. Instead of focusing on the casino capitalists and their off shore tax havens we get sidetracked into debating which austerity programme is the most appropriate for the country. You’ve got to admit, they are clever bastards. That private school education at ten thousand pounds per term turns out to be money well spent after all. With their classical Oxbridge education that daddy bought them, they can spend the rest of their days hoodwinking us peasants while living off the fat of the land.

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The East End’s Fading Olympic Legacy.(Olympic Notes No4

Rushanara Ali, Labour MP for Bethnal Green and Bow spells out precisely how the promises of an Olympic legacy for the East end of London made by Lord Coe and his team to the IOC will very likely come to nought. The high flying promises are one by one being reneged upon and in their place are the usual corporate demands that are designed to maximise profits for the corporate sponsors. The only surprise is that the likes of Rashanara Ali believed any of the promises in the first place. It is not for nothing that the Olympic Games are now frequently referred to as the Corporate Games.

First up for Ali was the mind numbing statistics for local employment at the Olympic site. In what was promised as a bonanza for local job opportunities, it turns out to be the very opposite. Ali reports,

‘When I asked last year how many local residents from the host boroughs were employed on the Olympic site, I was informed that of the 6,000 onsite jobs created, only 201 were held by residents from Tower Hamlets and 133 from hackney. The host boroughs have invested in making sure the local workforce have the right skills, especially for the construction industry, but many local people feel excluded and are resentful they can’t break through.’

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