It is a pity that there is no gold medal at the Commonwealth Games for sounding superior for we would be guaranteed to win it. The not unexpected problems in Delhi have brought out the very worst in our athletes and administrators who have been sounding off about the standard of the competitor’s accomodation and health and safety.
The former is the easier to deal with. One leading ‘star’ said that reports indicated that the accomodation is ‘little better than a youth hostel’. And what is wrong with that? The athletes seem to have caught the Premiership disease, they will only be there for a short time and ought to be able to cope without gold taps or whatever other supposed deprivation awaits them. They should perhaps reflect on the fate of the people whose homes were bulldozed to make way for the buildings. They were given two hours notice of eviction and many lived on the pavement for several weeks before being directed to a bit of land outside the city. Few could afford to rebuild their homes and the poorest now live beneath plastic sheets draped over a framework of sticks.
One such is Parviti, a mother in her forties. She is on record as saying that “we were told that palaces would be built there for foreigners and the slums would have to be destroyed”. She too is now at the new site, having slept rough for weeks and has so little money that she is watering down such food as she can procure to make it stretch to the whole family. Perhaps palaces represents an overstatement but everything is relative. As far as accomodation is concerned our pampered competitors should get down from their high horses.
Of course health and safety – how we love that phrase – is another matter. Conveniently ignoring the fact that the components that failed, and led to the collapse of a bridge, were British-made our media has had a field day. Who cares about the native population, one of our stars might get covered in dust! One editorial proclaimed that we are sensitive because we are the pioneers of health and safety. Really? A report from inspectors, obtained under the freedom of information act, has shown that serious safety problems were exposed recently at a Cumbria dockyard that makes nuclear submarines. An exercise based on a nuclear submarine accident found that members of the rescue team were prevented from getting to the scene of an imagined reactor failure for 15 minutes because they first had to fill in forms about radiation risk. Co-ordinators failed to account for people evacuated from the danger zone, the handling of casualties was ‘poor’. The summary says that “this was an exercise that went badly wrong because of lack of planning and emergency preparedness. It revealed a mismatch in resources, gross failures in communication, and cock-ups throughout”. It could have added Lord help us all had it been a real emergency. Sounds rather more serious than the collapse of a small bridge!
For me the last straw was the pompous tone struck by a whole range of people including minsters and officials. We, they claimed, are a caring society and the welfare of those who represent us is the number one priority. I admit that my knee-jerk cynicism was the result of reading of the fate of a terminal cancer sufferer in Bristol. War veteran Bernard Warren has been given two months to live but has been denied nursing care because, according to NHS Bristol officials, he “does not tick all the boxes”. It seems that our concern for the welfare of representatives does not extend to those who once represented us in rather more serious arenas!
You may well contend that the Games should not have been awarded to Delhi but that is another matter. The fact remains that they have been, and thousands of local people have had their misery compounded by the construction of a Games site. Whatever hardships this event may cause, we can be sure that our people will not bear the brunt of them. Provided that security against terrorists is assured, we should go there and stop sounding like colonial masters.
As my old Gran liked to regularly remind me, people that live in glasshouses shouldn’t throw stones. My headline is dedicated to her and her devotion to an adage that should still guide us today.
IF ONLY UNCLE VINCE WAS IN CHARGE!
Vince Cable should be preserved for the nation. He tells it as it is and dares to say what most of us think. I have heard the description ‘spivs’ used in many a bar and allotment shed when the subject of bankers came up, but here we had a minister happily roaring it out.
Of course there is now outrage on the part of the City set, bankers and those who specialise in trading company assets without thought for the economy or employees. But Vince has spoken for many in suggesting they increase their self understanding by looking into a mirror.
Sadly, dear old Uncle Vince has no real clout and little good will come from his attack. The obscene bonuses will still pour forth. But at least he has shown to whom the Lib Dems should turn once Clegg finally joins the Conservative Party. And an election fought under Vince just might give the Liberals a chance of real power!
ANSWERS TO YESTERDAY’S QUIZ; 1. The sun, especially the solar wind. 2. Helicopters
TODAY’S QUESTIONS; 1. Which British rocket launched the Prospero satellite? 2. In which year was the first oil pumped from Britain’s North Sea fields?