Only In Britain

Isabel Hardman, writing in The Spectator’s Coffee House blog, is concerned that government ministers do not have any real power to effect changes to the London Olympic Games seating policy that would correct the scandal of so many seats remaining empty during popular and supposedly over-subscribed events:

The problem for ministers is that they do not have any official influence over this matter. Jeremy Hunt made this clear when he appeared on the World at One a few minutes ago. He said:

‘We want to be completely upfront with the public, this is a negotiation, we don’t have a right to demand these back, in fact contractually these seats do belong to the International Sports Federations and to the IOC. But, we got 3,000 back last night, including 600 for the gymnastics.’

Meanwhile, the Number 10 spokeswoman repeatedly said today that ‘this is a matter for Locog’, although when asked whether the government was powerless to change the seating situation, added: ‘We have influence: it’s the government.’ Whatever that influence is, it’s in the government’s interest to exert it as powerfully as possible: the public is unlikely to discriminate between ministers and Locog officials when apportioning blame for those empty chairs.

Come on, Spectator. Your Coffee House blog is one of the things that keeps me sane when I’m following British politics. You espouse sensible, Conservative, common sense solutions, and you echo my own beliefs that government doesn’t need to run everything.

The British government has already done enough for the Olympic Games organisers, even going so far as suspending the right to free speech and freedom of expression in some cases with provisions banning small businesses from using certain words or phrases which, if uttered by a non Olympic sponsor, would now constitute a criminal offence.

Of the various possible culprits responsible for the fact that far too many seats at Olympic events remain empty despite massive demand from the British public, David Cameron or Jeremy Hunt’s respective doorsteps are probably the last place I would think of pinning the blame. I would dare to believe and hope that a majority of Brits, despite Gordon Brown’s attempts to turn us into a state dependent society, also would not look to government to be the solution to this or every other problem, even ones that may impact on our national prestige.

Maybe in the case of the “empty seat fiasco”, the British people are not looking to the government for a solution, but to the people organising the Olympic Games. A quick solution, brought about by the people responsible for the problem.

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