Boris Johnson, mayor of London, was interviewed on Radio 4’s Today programme this morning concerning the success of the logistics of the Olympics, transport. Full of effusive praise for his own efforts and those of his team, Mr. Johnson waxed lyrical about how well everything had turned out. At £9.3 bn one imagines it ought to turn out right but there are now horrific details being teased out of various government departments, agencies and quangos which suggest that the true figure is nearer to £19bn because of costs that are not part of the capital or operational expenditure of the games themselves. These include anti-doping control officers, legacy schemes, tube drivers being paid extra to work, police and military being drafted in to bolster security, arts programmes, investment in transport infrastructure and local Olympic torch relay programmes.
Boris Johnson stands to gain most of the benefit from this unprecedented outlay, as his ‘patch’ hosts the majority of the Olympic games. it’s almost a win-win situation for him. The more resources that are needed, the more money is shovelled in London’s direction to ensure that we don’t end up embarrassed as a result of hosting the games. But the scale of spending on the Olympic games must be fully examined and the taxpayer properly informed.
During his interview on the Today programme, ‘Bluster’ Boris did his usual spin of denigrating critics of McDonald’s participation as a sponsor and official caterer at the games by saying that Usain Bolt has proven all the “food faddists” wrong with his win. That’s ‘Bluster’ Johnson for you, always making a joke, more a cheap jibe, to gloss over and mask the less palatable, not so obvious reality that every man, woman and child in the UK has spent over £320 each on the Olympic games.
Bluster does a good job at promoting his eccentric image as an intellectual buffoon. He polishes our perception of him very thoroughly and, to give him his due, he’s almost shavian – characteristic of George Bernard Shaw – but we are not serving our own best interests here because many people are drawn in by this act. Let’s not forget that although Mr. Johnson is a likeable clown, almost a national treasure, he is also a politician and you trust him at your peril.