Do you remember it? The gloom? The shattered economy and the incompetent government? It seems so long ago now, and yet it was just last week that we discovered the full extent of the damage that George Osborne has done to the Economy (so far). Gloom was followed by doom, as surely as night follows day. The longest double dip recession since records began was here. National confidence was through the floor.
And then they came.
From every corner of the globe, they came.
And suddenly things were good again. Fireworks exploded over East London. Nurses danced. Towers were erected and a flame was lit. And it felt like a whole country had a smile on its face (well…almost). 27 million people staying up late on a Friday night and watching a demonstration of the very best of what makes our country Great. (I won’t go further into the opening ceremony – partially because others have written fantastically on it already, and partially because I’m not sure what the plural of “Mary Poppins” is…)
And then came the sport – the greatest display of sporting endeavour ever seen on this planet, organised by us, delivered by us. And we’ve even won a gold medal now.
Who wouldn’t be bursting with national pride?
Who wouldn’t find themselves sat in a car on the M1 on Sunday night screaming “Come on Rebecca” at the radio, despite having not the slightest interest in or understanding of swimming? Who wouldn’t attempt to learn the scoring system for Equestrian? (don’t bother it’s barmy) And who wouldn’t want to go and see South Korea vs Gabon at Wembley Stadium on a Wednesday evening? (there’s only one Ji Dong Won)
That’s just my Olympics experience so far. There are millions like it. That’s how the games are being talked about in pubs and offices, at bus stops and in the cafe next to my flat. The news isn’t even the news anymore (it goes sport-Syria-sport – which is disconcerting to say the least). Everywhere the games are a personal and collective experience all at once.
Except in the world of politics of course, where all anyone seems to be talking about is whether or not there will be an Olympic bounce or not. If that doesn’t show what a weird bunch political obsessives, politicians and the media are I don’t know what possibly could…
Lets be clear – of course there will be an Olympic bounce for the government. How could the not be? I’m certainly feeling more positive about life with the greatest show on earth being held – and organised fantastically – in one of the greatest cities on earth. Despite having spent the last two years of my life chronicling the misdeeds of this government, I’ve hardly given them any thought over the past five or six days. As Anthony Wells rightly points out, the Olympics bounce is at least in part likely to mean the public have gone a few days without hearing bad news about the government – a brief and rare respite for the public, as much as for the politicians.
Despite the fact that Labour deserve much of the credit for these Olympics (winning them, putting infrastructure in place, funding them), the government of the day will gain from the palpable feel good factor that already exists and will only increase as we begin to rack up more gold medals.
So should we care that there’s an Olympics bounce? Of course not. Firsly because if you worrying about minor polling changes (in all likelihood within the margin of error) when you could be learning about handball, then what’s wrong with you? And secondly, because when all of the games – Olympic and Paralympic – have finished, London shrinks back down to its normal size, the records have been broken and all we have left is an Olympic legacy and some fond memories, the fundamentals of British politics will remain the same.
The coalition will still be tearing itself apart. Cameron will still be hated by his parliamentary party. George Osborne will still be a worse chancellor than a pigeon, and the economy will still be a mess.
If you want something to worry about, then worry about that. But I’d suggest that you might be better served by watching the cycling, relaxing and enjoying the respite from bad political and economic news. Because you’ll miss this break from economic horror when it’s gone. I know I will…