Sunday, 12 August 2012

The UK Feelgood Factor

I was wondering what to write about this week. It seems that the country is waiting. Not for me, I mean,  but generally. London is waiting to get back to normal, whatever that is, and the papers are waiting for Clegg and Cameron while they go on holiday. I am waiting to go on holiday myself, hoping to have sorted out various minor ailments before departure. Parents are waiting for the kids to go back to school. I had an idea to talk about David Cameron but frankly, there is little to say. It is not as if he has said or done anything that is of any importance. Not one of his speeches has resonated beyond the room in which he gave them. He cannot say "the toff's not for turning", because he patently is. He could, in the context of the legacy of the Private Finance Initiative say, "Never in the field of public finance has was so much owed by so many to so few". But I doubt whether he would, given that PFI was a Tory invention, cleverly adapted by Labour to bankrupt the Health Service.

But a quote caught my eye, from none other than Alistair Campbell:

I think these Olympics could be one of the most significant events of our lifetime. They are changing the way British people think about themselves and about their country. We have shown we can do big things well. We have shown we can succeed at anything we set our minds to. We have changed the way many overseas think about us.

Now, I am not a fan of the man, but he has a good point, pregnant with prescience. I have barely seen or heard five complete minutes of this sporting occasion, but I am obviously aware of its impact on London and the rest of the UK. Interestingly, there were no big-hitting security alerts, no terrorist attacks and no strikes. People appear to be waxing lyrical about it and nay-sayers like me are likely to be lynched if we criticise it.

When Campbell risks a smack on the cheek from futurity, with his hostage-to-fortune assertion about the games being "one of the most significant events of our lifetime" it makes you wonder. Public outpourings of emotion, whether they be in Nuremberg or Wembley do resonate down the decades. Live Aid changed the way we think about raising money for charities and became a model for dozens of clones. It could be argued that Cameron's commitment to increasing overseas aid is a reflection of the political and social ethos that was prompted by, not only Live Aid, but by Live 8 and "Make Poverty History". I am not recommending it, just observing it.

As for Alistair Campbell, could he be right? Will Britain ride high on the momentum of public cheerfulness and will it lead to a better self-image and, more importantly, a better image abroad?

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