3 Sep 2012

Leaking lavatories and the Olympic / Paralympic challenge

MPs return today from the longest holiday enjoyed by anyone in public service. They return to a Britain that is, in some senses, much changed from the one they left the best part of two months ago.

This is an Olympic and Paralympic Britain in which the ‘community’ has pulled together, cheered together, howled together, and cried together. It’s a Britain of infrastructural achievement, a Britain of sporting prowess and a Britain of multicultural pride.

 It’s a far cry from the GCSE controversy, and ya boo “sack him or back him” politics. Whilst MPs have been away it’s been revealed that their Westminster emporium is falling down. MPs’ lavatories, no less, are leaking. The building needs to be closed for five years, we are told, to allow wholesale rehabilitation.

 Perhaps the days of a building that many regard as unfit for purpose in modern Britain needs retiring altogether? Is the physical division of MPs a sword-and-a-half’s length apart from each other past its sell-by date?

 Has the hour come when to George Osborne’s soon-to-be-announced infrastructure list of projects should be added a new Parliament, set out in the spirit of Olympic co-operation?

None of the hundreds of thousands – nay millions – who have graced the Olympic Park can be unaware of the spirit that resides there. It is a spirit that has seeped across the country. It is a spirit that has seeped from every laptop, every television in the country. That spirit is one of consideration, of kindness, helpfulness, charm and patience.

We have all witnessed it amongst the Games makers, officials, troops, police, and yes, even the G4S security staff. Security checks have been efficient and good spirited. Directions, transport, ice creams have all been dispensed with charm and enjoyment.

 These MP’s have a massive challenge. There is little appetite around for division, name-calling, blame-calling, and political shenanigans. I have never in my reporting life detected so great a yearning for a national pulling together. It is the greatest tribute we can pay to our summer of Olympic/Paralympic achievement.

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7 reader comments

  1. Robert Taggart says:

    If our Politico’s have any sense (!) – they will compulsorily purchase the old County Hall building across the river, gut it, and construct a new Parliament within.
    The two new Chambers – if we really must continue with the Lords – would be designed in a hemicycle.
    Simple ? or too simples ??!

  2. Kevan Wilding says:

    Nice one John. I agree entirely, The Paralympics especially have opened my eyes to levels of the unseen disabled, and their many fantastic amazing achievements. I have laughed and cried along with their triumphs, and have to say that these games have been uplifting to say the least.
    Then we get back to listening to the Eton boys patting themselves on the back for a job badly done, and take credit for the people who they are doing their best to rid the land of, i.e. the removal of DLA.
    Shame on politics, lets just have lots more great sport.
    Kevan

  3. Michael says:

    What nation are you talking about? Roll on 2014 and i pray Scotland will be rid of the broken westminister political system that hasnt really changed since it was thought up by wealthy landowners to take power from the king. Britian is reconised by the un as having one of the least representitive politcal systems in the world and it will not change……..

  4. Josh Tedam says:

    What a contrast, the New Zealand rugby team are all blacks. The David Cameron led UK cabinet are all white!
    So much for multicultural Britain. This is a sure way to widen the psychic distance between white Britain and the rest of us.

    Why are there still no black cabinet ministers in the conservative led government?
    You have women, albeit reduced in the reshuffle, gays (Welcome back David Laws. I am all for inclusion and you should not have resigned in the first place.) and disabled ministers, but there seems to be a colour bar. Well except the colour of the door into No 10 downing street.
    Why should black Men/women bother to vote as they don’t see any representation for them or their issues?

    What a traversty of social inclusion! It lays bare the mindset of David Cameron and his Eaton cum Oxford cronies. One step forward two steps backwards for race relations. As a black man, there is no guessing which way my vote will be going come election time.

  5. margaret brandreth-jones says:

    Hello Jon; I am not really interested in the olympics or paralympics but like yourself can feel the tremendous yearning for a pulling together.Cooperation has always been my longing and personal philosophy. Conflict and misplaced competition destroys and in itself, conflicts’ reciprocation escalates.

    The division in the olympics and paralympics gives me a feeling of unease though. It carries an us and them message. I don’t see any reason why the olympics and paralympics cannot be gelled together and classes within sports configured in more detail. The olympics would then not carry that air of..aren’t we ever so superior for recognising less able bodied people than ourselves( although the paralympions have far exceeded their label of disabled) but labels stick.
    A 2 month holiday hopefully means politicians will be spending money to help the economy: actually doing something rather than showing off because they have acquired a position of power.Let the childish parliamentarians continue until they burn themselves out with vanity.

  6. Brian Groves says:

    Jon Snow you have captured the feelings of 80% of this wonderful nation. We have just witnessed, (there is not enough space to heap all the praise necessary on this fantastic festival of sport) over 200 countries coming together living and competing together in harmony and friendship, we have all felt so involved, and have cheered all the athletes equally, as you say MP’s are now returning from their summer break, and if they have a grain or two of intelligence should grasp the nettle and keep this feeling for sport in the country growing it can’t be left to wither on the vine they will never have a better opportunity, playing fields should be kept and all sports facilities enlarged it has enthused the youth to get involved and will keep them off the streets, but they the MP’s will undoubtedly moan about cost, well, a suggestions Channel 4 could produce a couple of CD’s of the Olympics and Paralympics to help the cost I bet they would sell like hot cakes go to it Channel 4

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