“Who is the Olympic legacy in Stratford for?”

The Londonist site asked the question, “Who is the Olympic legacy in Stratford for?” This was my response:

There are many aspects to this question, not all of which are obvious. Could the regeneration of the Park have happened without the games of 2012? Well, yes, it could. But it is hugely unlikely. 560 acres of neglected and grossly polluted land does not get sorted out on the basis of “perhaps”.

2 million tons of soil needed to be cleaned before anything else could be done because the place was pretty close to uninhabitable as a health hazard. Heavy organic chemicals, toxic metals, dumped cars, tyres and CFC-full fridges and freezers needed to be dealt-with. These and the soaked-in effluent of generations of unregulated chemical manufacture up to and including the rendering-down of animal carcasses does not scream “spend money on me” to developers.

It’s exactly the same scenario as the Millennium Dome. Uninformed people whine that it cost nearly a billion pounds to build that when in fact it only cost 50 million pounds. Most of the rest was spent cleaning up the area first.

Having cleaned the Olympic Park, and generally tidied it up by tearing down over 50 electricity pylons and burying the power cables underground, the stage was empty, but ready. In my view there is no way that private money would have done that and spending that much public money without some sort of tangible public benefit would rightly have caused outrage.

So, we held the Olympics as the cornerstone of a carefully-considered and well-constructed regeneration and planned legacy programme. The concept of anticipated repurposing was used everywhere. Temporary venues prepared the way for future communities.

Three schools have already opened on the Park with several more about to, thousands of homes have been built and again, many more on the way. Tens of thousands of jobs are being created or moved into the area with the resultant kick to the local economy. The elite athletes’ medical centre is now a world-class NHS facility serving the wider local community. I know – my doctor is based there.

Six million visitors a year enjoy the parkland where before there was just dangerous stinking wasteland. The whole area has become the lungs of East London. 4,000 more trees planted in the last couple of years, wetlands, meadows, flowering areas all add up to a noticable drop in local pollution levels. Quality of life has dramatically improved, not just for people who live in the new homes but millions of others too.

We have world-class sports venues that are used by the public every day – over a million a year go for a swim in the Aquatics Centre, for example. Community engagement is a key factor. The Park volunteer system has over 600 people who help out with various elements of Park life – looking after parklands in conservation work, monitoring the growing wildlife population, helping at major events by assisting visitors and running the information point and one of the best park mobility services in the country.

Asking if the legacy has produced the expected results is always going to generate a lot of different answers. If you were employed in one of the smelly chemical plants then you’ll probably be annoyed at it closing. If you live outside London you may well ask what “your” money (which is actually London’s money, as we paid for it) has done to benefit you. If you were expecting a nation of lardarses to suddenly start doing weekly 10k runs, you were never going to find the results encouraging.

However: if you’re one of the six million people a year who bother to go there and find out for yourself what it is all about, I pretty much guarantee that you’ll be back.

There has never been an Olympic legacy like London’s. It is by far the most successful planned legacy ever.

The games were a huge success. The aftermath even more so, in my opinion.

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Brexit. The Moron’s Last Hurrah

Ah, Brexit. Someone on the leave side decided that people who voted to remain were ignorant. So I asked:

Really? Ignorant, eh?

Okay, oh informed one: there are many facets of UK life that will be directly impacted by the Brexit decision. I have thoughts on each of the following categories, but would value your carefully-considered opinions on how Brexit will impact:

Trade balance, Interest rates, Unemployment, Exchange rates, Farming subsidies, Food prices, Inflation, Immigration, Expatriot British people living in Europe, Scientific research, Higher education, Cross-border technology, Pan-european businesses, Export and import tariffs, Global businesses like banking and financial services.

I expect that since you voted to leave, you must have carefully considered at the very least each of these areas.

So: over to you…

My answers:

Trade balance – Stay in: much as it is now. Leave: both imports and exports drop significantly leading to an increased need for self-sufficiency. This will lead to price increases across the board and inflation rises too.

Interest rates – Stay in: remain very low. Leave: will need to rise to counter the drop in currency values. This will mean more expensive mortgages and credit cards and will trigger a spiral in debt.

Unemployment – Stay in: no change, it is currently statistically insignificant. Leave: short term, a small drop as EU nationals leave. Long term, unemployment will rise as costs rise / profits fall and companies have to make cutbacks.

Exchange rates – Stay: no change beyond normal daily fluctuations. Leave: Pound will continue to fall, dropping below 1 Euro. This will trigger significant interest rate rises (see above).

Farming subsidies – Stay: no change, they will continue at their current high levels. Leave: They will disappear totally, meaning food price rises (see below) and rising numbers of farms going bust.

Food prices – Stay: no change, remaining at current low levels. Leave: dramatic increases caused by loss of farm subsidies and by trade tariffs.

Inflation – Stay: no impact, remains at or around 2-3% for a while dropping back after a couple of years. Leave: dramatic increase caused by wage inflation, food price increases and import tariffs.

Immigration – Stay: no impact. Leave: after an initial outflow of a few EU citizens and inflow of expat Brits, no impact. Either way, it will always be far higher than Leave voters want.

Expatriot British people living in Europe – Stay: no impact, free to live and work wherever they want. Leave: visa requirements and removal of rights to live and work. Many will opt to return to the UK which will more than counter the loss of EU citizens leading to an increase in UK benefit and healthcare costs.

Scientific research – Stay: no impact, current multinational research projects will continue and new ones start. Leave: Scientific research will be decimated as EU funds disappear, companies opt for EU bases instead of UK ones and the UK government continues to refuse to fund research.

Higher education – Stay: no impact as universities continue to benefit from funding that non-UK students bring to the system. Leave: universities left with huge funding shortfalls as foreign students choose not to come here. This will lead to demands to increase the amount the UK students pay. Universities and colleges will close.

Cross-border technology – Stay: no impact. Leave: with the drying up of research and the financial pressures on universities, companies will increasingly choose to limit themselves to the free-flowing EU rather than risk the isolationist UK.

Pan-european businesses like Airbus and Unilever – Stay: no impact, companies will continue to trade and base headquarters where it best suits them. Leave: companies will, of course, with difficulty continue to trade with the UK, but headquarters (and therefore tax revenue) will not be based here. Airbus will move its wing-making business to Germany and shut its UK operation.

Export and import tariffs – Stay: no EU tariffs, no major non-EU ones either. Leave: tariffs on everything from and to everywhere. Loss of competitive advantage for UK-based companies and instantly higher prices for all imports into the UK. An instant spike in inflation.

Global businesses like banking and financial services – Stay: no impact, London will continue to be a global and highly profitable leader in these businesses. Leave: banks have already started opening and staffing operations in Frankfurt and Paris. This will accelerate with a significant loss to the UK in tax revenue and credibility. After a decade or so, the UK financial business will be dealing mostly with domestic issues and will have ceased to be a significant global presence. The tax revenue loss of this will be significant.

Then, someone asked why remainers were so keen to give up self-determination. Again, I answered:

Define self-determination? What does that actually mean? The Brexit morons keep banging on about sovereignty and control in their simplistic, rather recursive way, but none – absolutely none – have given any thought about what it actually means.

We’re given a vote every four or five years (or every eighteen months or so under the current clueless administration) and we go away afterwards, so very proud, patting ourselves on the back for having played our part in this great, ancient and noble democracy we have. Then, after an evening spent watching Paxman whitter on as though he knows what he’s talking about, we start to bitch about how the people we elected never do what we want, seem more interested in personal gain than collective good and we shrug our shoulders and get on with our lives the same as we did a week before.

The truth of the matter is that those who blather on about control and sovereignty are delusional fools. They have no control. They never have had. Proles like them are not given control, they are merely given the illusion of it.

Those of us with a functioning brainstem know this and therefore have to decide upon the better of a number of deeply flawed systems.

The choice is actually really simple. We are a tiny, insignificant island nation with few natural resources except a small collection of people who are good with numbers and a large collection of lazy, over-entitled and benefit-addicted fools.

On the back of that smaller population, we have built a global banking industry and have the world’s best programmers. We got there first in both of these areas and got a head start over others. Since we built these industries up, others came to us and based their businesses here out of convenience. They have their own bright, clever people, but it is less effort to use ours at the moment.

Now what we’re doing is closing those doors. We’re making it less convenient, more expensive and considerably less appealing for others to use our services.

We’re setting fire to our own bedding.

So other people are moving their business away – tens of thousands of banking jobs have already gone, high-tech industries are investing elsewhere and this is just the tip of the iceberg.

The sad – bone-deep sad – thing about the Brexit morons claim to want control and leadership and independence and sovereignty, is that we already had it. We already had it and they were all too fucking dumb to notice. The very thing that they claim to want is the very thing they are setting out to destroy.

As part of a free-flowing Europe, we were a big player at the head table. It wasn’t a perfect system by any means, but we were there with the best of them and we made a difference.

Now, we have been shown to be exactly what we are. Insular, arrogant, insecure, insignificant, small, disposable and yes, racist. Was what we had the best? No, far from it. But it was so very much better than what we are heading for.

Obscurity is a pathetic way to end a proud country’s history. To deliberately choose that is shameful.

Democracy is a very poor system. It relies upon an educated and informed electorate to work properly. We have do not have that. Nobody has.

Yes, drunk women do put themselves at risk.

Kelly Brook is under fire for saying that drunk women put themselves at risk. She’s being accused by the usual motorgobs of victim-blaming.

Kaye Adams in response said that she was wrong and that you have to start from a position of trust.

Adams is wrong and Brook is right. It would be the other way round if we lived in a perfect world and the only consequences of getting blind drunk were a hangover and a big bar bill.

Feel free to provide evidence to the contrary, but it would be my strong assertion that we do not live in a perfect world. It would be lovely if we did, but we don’t.

Therefore, in any aspect of living, not just this, everything becomes a matter of risk management. We have to ask ourselves if what we are doing puts us at a higher level of risk than we find acceptable.

Again, I am happy to listen to evidence to the contrary, but it would be my assertion that young women getting blind drunk then heading home by themselves are putting themselves at a (far) higher risk than they would ordinarily consider acceptable. Because we do *not* live in a perfect world and there *are* nasty and dangerous people out there.

Starting from a position of trust is naïve and a luxury we cannot yet afford.

So yes, Brook is right. It’s a shame that she is right, but that does not make her any less right.