"it would be utterly extraordinary if we didn't take a look at the games. i don't see that this compromises the committee at all."
said john whittingdale, conservative mp and chair of the culture media and sport committee, to the daily mail.
he was commenting on the fact that he will be attending an olympic event as a guest of bt, an olympic sponsor. bt will be giving a briefing on its role in delivering the games and once this has been completed the guests will be able to enjoy an olympic event care of bt.
many many years ago when i was a medium sized fish in a small pond there were occasions when i would be treated to a slap up meal and a movie by some of my clients. it was nice. made me feel important (even if i would have swapped the slap up meal for a decent large pizza from pizza hut). made me feel appreciated and meant i would do that little bit extra for the client the next time.
i guess that members of parliament are no different. they like to feel the love as well.
there are some crucial differences. i was never paid as much an mp, the relationship between me and the client was always a business one: we both wanted to gain from it and in all the cases i probably paid to see the movie again at a later date (ok maybe not spider-man 3 - but it was pants). nor was i ever invited to go to something that was high profile once in a lifetime event - just a preview screening of a movie that everyone could see in a week or two.
not that it matters as it was all about the love.
i am sure that is what the members of the culture media and sport committee are all about: it's the love.
bt's briefing is sure to be edifying albeit one that will amount to little more than 'didn't we do well' and even if there are criticisms it is not like they can ever be acted upon. in fact if one were not charitable one would say that such a briefing is pretty pointless.
why pointless? because by the time they are delivering it, in the middle of the olympics, it is pretty much too late to change anything or to pass on wisdom to others who are helping to deliver the olympics. not to mention it is not like we are going to host the olympics again for a loooong time, or for that matter the only other global event that matches it: the world cup.
the time for the briefing should have been moths before the olympics, and i am sure the committee has had many with bt before now, so that lesson could be learnt, advice given, blah blah. the time for briefings would have been around the times that members of the select committee jetted off to previous olympic cities to see how they had done it and what had happened after the games had gone. (it’s all work on this select committee).
so let’s call this what it really is: a lovely jolly.
how can i say that about our hard working mps. surely after sitting on a committee for five years dealing with the olympics they deserve a chance to go to the games? no. not at all. the committee is their job, and just doing your job isn’t enough to entitle you to go to the games, just ask some of the athletes who have worked hard for the last several years who have missed out on selection to the great britain team.
oh now you are being harsh – surely they should be allowed to go to the games, have a heart. if they were that keen on seeing the olympics they could have done what the rest of us did and applied for tickets (it would be interesting to know just how many of the committee actually have tickets they have paid for), if all they wanted to know about was how the olympics were going to be delivered (by bt or any of the parties involved in the games they could have gone to any of the test events – at least then their input might have been useful).
instead a few of the committee, not all, are guests of bt at the olympic games. the event they will be seeing is the men’s 100 metres final, only the hottest ticket of the games. nice work if you can get it.
i’ll put my hand up here and say that if i were on the select committee there is a good chance that i would have said yes to a freebie as well. this means i am practicing a nice bit of hypocrisy here. not can i really blame them for doing it when the international olympic committee is pretty much guilty of doing it themselves as they have reserved a large number of seats for key events for their dignitaries, because as part of the olympic family they want to show their support. they just don’t want to show their support to the wrestling, weightlifting, archery or any of those other events that are not glamorous.
everyone wants to support the popular stuff – none of them want to go see some nobody in a sport that will never be covered in the media (another part of the committee’s remit) until the next olympics. nope everyone wants to be seen.
the funny thing is they probably would have learnt more at the smaller events that would have actually benefitted the committee and sports. that’s just not as much fun.
what stands out here is that one of the major complaints about the london olympics has been the whole ticketing process and the lack of tickets available for the big events to the ordinary fee paying public. the culture media and sport committee would have been aware of it (if not because they are interested in sport then because they are interested in the media and it has been one of those stories that has been carried and covered everywhere) so at the time they were offered these tickets from bt a warning signal should have come on indicating that perhaps this wasn’t the most sensible thing in the world to be doing. once again showing that politicians tend not to see (care?) how things are going to look to the general public.
john whittingdale is probably a nice bloke, aside from a short period he has worked in politics all his adult life. while he is patron of the local cricket and rugby clubs he lists his interests as music (classic rock – good for him) and movies (no genre given), so sport doesn’t seem to play a big part of his private life. no worries he will be going to the olympics in his official capacity, that’s alright then.
perhaps he can suggest that bt give one of their spare tickets to zaha hadid, she also seems to think she is entitled to a freebie because she worked on the olympics – at least they will have something to talk about when the sport is on.