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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