It was a real moment of pride to watch the opening ceremony of the London 2012 Olympic Games, even for us foreigners. I have been to Wimbledon, Henley, Twickenham and several top football games, not to mention the county shows, and I know this country can organise big events like nobody else. Not the well organised mobs of US events (have you ever been to a Star Trek convention? I have!) but with a sophistication and grace unique to events here.
However, the opening of the Olympics surpassed everything. Congratulations to everyone, especially the Queen. Jumping out of a helicopter went far beyond what anyone expects of a Queen.
All this was done in the spectacular Olympic park and considering the bid was won only seven years ago, this is especially impressive. In seven years this was realised whilst much of our public transport infrastructure languishes in Victorian days. It has taken over ten years just to talk about a much needed bypass in the town where I live. For 100 years people have been debating the much needed House of Lords reform and politicians complain we are moving too fast. What is the problem?
The problem is priorities. The Olympics were a clear priority. They have been delivered on time, but then there was not much choice. A month late would have been a small disaster, just look at G4S. They were a little late in their recruitment and all hell broke loose.
Budget was not an issue and claiming that the Olympics were delivered on budget is a slight exaggeration. The original budget, according to Wikipedia was about £2billion (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/London_bid_for_the_2012_Summer_Olympics) and I am told that we actually spent over £9 billion. This of course does not include the cost of the time of some 60,000 volunteers, the business lost because of people avoiding London, and the empty shops we all see on the news.
When it comes to planning or my pet gripe, infrastructure, we have no such priorities. Our esteemed Parliament appears proud to claim we are moving too fast in the House of Lords debate which is celebrating its first centenary.
The Eurotunnel was developed and built in 8 years and cost £9.5 billion (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eurotunnel) only double the original budget and about the same amount as the Olympics.
Both the Olympics and the Eurotunnel demonstrate that if a government wants something it can get be done. So why not follow the example of what was done for London 2012 and get some of this much needed infrastructure built. No doubt it will give the same much needed boost that is predicted to come from the Olympics with two further advantages – it will last much longer and it will benefit the whole nation.