03/08/2012 Newsnight


Will Boris Johnson's Olympic performance take him all the way? Plus, a look at the austerity Games of 1948 and why London 2012 is costing so much. With Eddie Mair.

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One week in, we have the measure of the games.


Look at the time, it's a new world record. Huge viewing figures, a


feel-good factor, and a Boris bounce. Gold medal. If any other


politician anywhere in the world got stuck on a zip wire, it was


disastrous, for Boris it will be an absolute triumph. Will any of it


last, or will it fade from memory, like the 1948 games. I said, how


did you train? He said, train, I just stubbed out my cigarette and


ran! We will discuss that with three


British olympian, and this man, who went to the Olympic Park this week


and had a sausage McMuffin. This time last week, while you and I


were watching Newsnight, literally everybody else was watching the


Olympic Opening Ceremony. We have learned an important lesson from,


that and tonight's programme is devoted to the games. What their


success says about Britain, whether it's laughable to think of them as


austerity games, and first, whether London 2012 will be a springboard


for Boris 20125 he didn't secure the Olympics for London, and yet


the public closely associates him with the event. He has instant name


recognition which is way better than whoever the hell I am. And the


polls say if he became Tory leader his party would be neck and neck


with Labour. Forget Boris for London, why not Boris for Britain.


August, and that most august tradition of journalism, the silly


season. And this year, the silly contender. Boris Johnson for Prime


Minister, very funny, but everywhere Londoners look up, they


see, not David Cameron, but another man on the wire.


This man made it across his wire, and despite those dangling legs,


this one might do too, it is not very silly at all. People are


coming from around the world, and they are seeing us and the greatest


city on earth. To a politician 60,000 people chanting your name is


far from silly. The geiger counter of Olympomaina will go zoink.


then the zoink has gone zonk off the scale. So much so David Cameron


just took his hat off to his London mayor. If any other politician,


anywhere in the world, got stuck on a zip wire, it would be disastrous,


for Boris, it will be an absolute triumph. Even Johnson's biographer


has been taken aback. I have been rung by Americans, Swiss, the


Swedes want to know about him, everyone wants to know who this


astonishing figure is. He has used with amazing acumen to show that he


is a leader of a world city, and he can perform on the world stage.


This is, of course, raising him as a much more serious figure, or much


more serious contender to David Cameron, because he is the one,


well known story, who is not actually found -- Tory, who is not


actually bound into the not very popular decisions taken at


Westminster. The numbers bear this out, a nearby


I don't knowic Olympic bounce A Tory Party led by David Cameron --


bionic bounce, a Tory Party led by David Cameron, as usual in mid-term,


with Boris Johnson as leader, the gap narrows. The road is not


straight ahead. D'oh to see Boris going to be leader of the party,


you have to do as many Olympics as Boris does in a sentence. Does he


want it? No question about. That consider this, there is no vacancy


for the top role, David Cameron is not universally adored by MPs, but


he's not going anywhere. What if the Tories lose the next election,


when Boris would have to bail early from being Mayor of London. That is


something he has promised Londoners he wouldn't do. He could style it


out. Many think his next chance is before the next election, that they


choose him in a pre-election panic. The country is enjoying the games,


but has the mayor ensured it is also making money? Boris Johnson


warned of gridlock, some shop floors have grown tumbleweed, he


gets the jokes of competition, but is he competent. One thing about


Boris is he's a real detalisman, he really studies his brief. He loves


chairing meetings and chairs a lot of really detailed negotiating


meetings and so on. He's also unbelievably hard working, contrary


to what a lot of people expect. He starts early and leaves late and


works weekends. His staff are concerned he works too hard. Can he


be Prime Minister? There isn't a vacancy, but he has defied


expectations before in terms of possibilities, and no reason why


that shouldn't carry on. The Mayor of London office has relatively few


powers, has hard for him to do things, -- it is hard for him to do


things that will capitalise on the Olympic bounce. But one thing he


could do would be to push through the driverless train, but it could


be a ruckus. A ruckus in London, what about elsewhere, we know he's


not that popular in Liverpool, he city he offended so much he was


sent to apologise in person. Those figures on the right of the screen


show Boris Johnson is more popular as a leader in almost every part of


the country. But when asked who would make the better Prime


Minister, that changes. David Cameron polls ahead, and in some


places by quite a way. Never say never with Boris Johnson,


but even his closest associates admit he doesn't yet know how to


get where he wants to get. The wire is ready, and he can walk on it,


but it is not yet hooked up to Westminster.


You said the zoike has gone zonk? It is easy when there is not much


going on in Westminster. Is Boris making headway because there is not


much going on? There are things going on, there is a big thing


going on today with Lords reform. Before we go on to that. It is


fairly serious, it is summer, it is quiet, but equally, and this is his


home turf. But he has been astute in how he is playing these messages,


he's doing well. He's hogging the limelight, and other politicians


are letting him. They have, however, made a fairly, they haven't


officially announced it, the signs are that Lords reform has died in


its massive 100-year history, and will have to spend a few more years


waiting to get on to the statute books, today it seems clear they


won't go ahead with, that after incredibly bullish signs from both


naerts they will have to try to come up with a compromise. It is a


big development on what is supposed to be the silly season. The BBC is


covering every Olympic sport, from every angle, all the time. If you


are a bit busy, the Newsnight guide to the day, will help you keep your


Ever since the hugely successful Opening Ceremony, and all that


Olympic standard waving, 30 Mary Poppinses have been working day and


night to transform the stadium into a venue where athletes can run,


jump and throw. Britain's big gold medal hope in


the heptathlon, Jessica Ennis, roared out of her first event, the


100m hurdles, at this speed she would have won gold in Beijing


against the world's specialist. Katherine Grainger and Anna Watson


have three sets of silver medals from Athens, Sydney and Beijing,


but something happened to them today, oh, what's the word? Was it


fulfilment, like some thunder boat had hit you, and -- thunder bolt


had hit you. What is the word? word is "finally"!


A clear victory for Britain, then, while in the sailing, well this


drama in the fin class speaks for itself. In the velodrome, an


explanation of why Gavin isn't here tonight. And more success for


Britain's men and women. Well Greg Searle is here, he won bronze this


week in the men's eight rowing, a full 20 years after his first


Olympic appearance in Barcelona, where he won a gold medal. I know


you have come from the Olympic Park, how are the games for you?


games are unfolding beautifully. There was a slightly low -- slow


start, we were nervous about the home team. Now the medals are


coming in. People seem to have smiles on their faces across town


and across the country, around the Olympic Park. Hopefully people are


beginning to get into the games and start to feel proud of the British


team. As a participant, do you really notice the different cities


and what they bring, or when you are in the middle of it you could


be anywhere? It is very different for me, each of the different


experiences. In Barcelona in 1992 everyone loved it, every street you


walked down, there were flags and people excited about the games.


When I went to the Atlanta Olympics, it was very different, a very dry


experience, they were probably as interested in the baseball as the


games. That cast a shadow over it. In terms of the enthusiasm from the


home crowd. What about this British rowing success? The British rowing


success has been marvellous. We're strong sport in this country, we


have heritage and history that we are good at row, we have had Steve


Redgrave as aman, from years gone by, we have pick -- tailsman from


years gone by, we have picked it up and carried on. Colin Moynihan from


the Birtish Olympic Association, essentially saying, he didn't use


the terms, but saying a lot of sports are sports for posh boys and


girls, certainly where we win medals? That is where we need to


drive diversity, more people into sport. Rowing, as an example, you


said why are we good at it. We were good at it, because we used to have


posh boys and a few people were able to do sport. Now we have


talent identification programme, we have cast the net wider, so more


than Haher the rowers went to state schools not private schools,


because they have had opportunity to do the sport,, it has had


exposure. More fun doing it and more success from it T women's


rowing has had huge success and two gold medals from British women


rowers, that is the first time we have won gold in British women's


rowing. There is talk about legacy, sustainability, and whether they


are different. Do you think simply seeing British women and men win at


rowing, will be enough to entice people to take up the sport for the


first time? I think you look at the Steve Redgrave story that I have


told, in the past people weren't rowing, then we had success in


Sydney, that was a big one, where Steve won the five golds. Now you


look at the result of that, 12 years on, we're a hugely successful


team. Cycling, exactly the same thing is happening. Sailing,


exactly the same thing is happening. These are not the mainstream sports,


this is getting people away from following football. Getting out,


getting a broader interest, finding things we are good at, activities


people can get fit doing. People having the team work experiences,


so we get more people into sport. Surely that is a great thing.


will talk more about this later, thank you, that is Greg Searle,


whose personal Olympic experience dates back 20 years. We will delve


back further now. To the London Games of 1948. Which came in, on


time, under budget, and in black and white.


We have been considering what we might learn now from then.


Could it be that there was a different spirit abroad then.


Afterall, we had just come through a war. People had got used to


making do, and not making a fuss. Take the man who brought the torch


to Wembley Stadium, to inaugurate the games. Did it bother him that


it was shedding hot gouts of poet it is a yum everywhere? Of course


it didn't, any more than the spectator, they hadn't felt warmth


like that in years. Excitement was at fever pitch. Times were so hard,


that the cyclists had to share bikes. But they drew the crowds to


Herne Hill, velodrome in south London. You know they make all this


fuss about this Wiggins fella! Newsnight is pitting itself against


Herne Hill's notorious wall of death, together with author, Janie


Hampton, who has written about the' 48 games. There was food rationing,


petrol rationing, clothes rationing, it was incredibly difficult to get


hold of any building materials. Hence the austerity nickname for


the games? The only labour available was German prisoners of


war. Did they build this? They didn't build any special arenas for


the Olympics. In the pastoral beauty of Richmond Park, with


ancient trees and grazing deer, a temporary home for visitors. Today,


that is to G4S, soldiers have moved in with the athletes. Back in 1948,


the reverse was true, athletes moved into what was a convalesce


sant hospital for soldiers. It was a different story for the high-ups


of the Olympic family, who enjoyed Britain's first infinity pool! John


Mann won a silver medal for Great Britain. -- Dorothy Manley won a


silver medal for Britain, Dorothy, a shorthand typist, could do the


100ms in 12.2 seconds, and 100 words perminute. Was she on a high-


performance diet like today's elite runners? Kind of. The only thing I


remember was having steak, my mother and father could have t they


could buy it, I was able to have it. That was rather nice. What about


high altitude training, practically de rigueur today, not so much. John


and her future husband, John, also a runner, got into the zone of


London 1948, with a gruelling stay at Butlin's Clacton. It was not an


exacting schedule, we were keen to run, and we had good basic food, we


didn't have all the rubbish they are fed as youngsters. I think that


is why we are living to the age we live to. Who was the scientific


genius behind special diets for John, authorisity and the rest of


the -- Dorothy and the rest of the great British team? # Blinding me


with science That's right, it was windmill-armed


BBC doctor, Magnus Pike, long before he appeared in pop videos,


he was a scientist. He said olympians can't train on 2,500


calories a day, which is what adults were allowed. They should be


allowed the same as a coal miner, which was 3,500 a day.


competitors struggled to master the new food rations. A cyclist accuses


a rival of testing positive for potted tongue! But while athletes


splurged at the butchers, the national mood was distinctly frugal.


The initial budget for the 2012 games was �2.4 billion, it is


likely to be �9 billion. Although the Commons committee has estimated


security costs will push it to �11 billion. By contrast, three


quarters of a million pounds, the equivalent of �20 million today,


was set ased side for The Austerity Olympics. They came in at a thrifty


�76 2,000, and ticket sales 76 2,000, meaning the games turned a


small profit of �30,000. Everybody was happy, everybody was cheering.


Everybody was looking forward to it. Dorothy Tyler, a high-jumping


mother of two from south London took silver in a tensely-fought


contest. It was a wonderful atmosphere. It was packed every day.


They all stayed on, the king and the Queen stayed on to watch me


jump. We broke the Olympic record. We might think we have it tough in


today's recession, it was hardly a picnic in 1948, back then the


British olympians were amateurs who did it all for the love of sport.


They had to. You had to go and work in your factory or office. One of


the British team, who was in the 100m final, Alastair McCorkadale. I


asked him how he trained, he said he just stubbed out his cigarette


and ran. Wheeze it softly, but he nearly bagged a medal on his regime


of John Players, just being edged into fourth in this early instance


of a photo finish. The back up for the Brits might


have been a bit thin back then, but there was nothing thread bare about


their undergarments, a free pair of drawers for every male competitor


was the promise of the pantsman here. Would our veterans swap


places with today's olympians. wouldn't, because I wouldn't like


it to be the bee all and end all. My aim in life was to get married


and have a family, that's what, luckily, I was able to do. I


couldn't have put all that aside just to run. No. I couldn't have


stood all the regime. I ran because it was fun. If there's one last


thing the present games are lacking, it is a rousing specially-penned


anthem, like the one they sang 64 years ago.


# If all the lands # Could run with all the others


# And work as sweetly # As the young men play


# Moves with a laugh # And battle as brothers


# Loving to win # But not win every day


Greg Searle is still with us, we are joined by two of the 1948


olympians from Steve's report, Dorothy and John Parlett, and


Matthew Taylor, part of the Downing Street team when the games were


secured, and Giles Coren, who, for the Times this week, has been


playing close attention to the buns at McDonalds and the women's beach


volley ball. We hoped to be joined by the Olympic secretary, Jeremy


Hunt who told us he would be with us live in the studio,


but...Sometimes the best laid plans don't work out.


John and Dorothy, thank you for joining us in the studio. What do


you think the 2012 games could learn from 1948? I was looking at


the official report before we came here, and they had a problem with


tickets. They had allocated tickets for the foreign countries that were


coming here, and at a fairly late stage, these countries decided they


didn't want the tickets. So they had a problem. And there was a


comment that those who are organising further games should


look at these comments and do something about it. But some how,


somebody somewhere didn't. You talked, Dorothy, about you wouldn't


want to be part of the athletics now, it wouldn't be your scene, but


in terms of how big the games have become, do you think they are too


big? Do think they are too big, I think there are too many events


nowadays. Putting football, tennis in, which have got things in their


own right, haven't they, that they can look up to. From your joint


experience, obviously taking part in the 1948 games, do you think


Britain are now more swept up in the games than they were then?


seem to be. But, quite honestly, I can't really remember, it was 64


years ago, you know. I know there was 80,000, virtually the same


amount of people watching. quickly did people forget the 1948


games? I know it has taken you 60 years, did people remember in 1949


what happened? I don't know. What did happen was that there was,


as far as the athletics was concerned, they set up a national


coaching scheme to train people in the clubs to be coaches so they


could bring youngsters on, by 1950, at the European Championships,


there were two young women that ran very well, that hadn't run in the


Olympics, they had come up. I think they had gained a lot through this


scheme that was going. So clubs were getting more involved.


Matthew, I know you are a bit worried about the size of the games.


Of itn't quite what you expected? think the games are -- it isn't


quite what you expected? I think the games are fantastic, it is


great to see the excitement running across the country. We have to be


realistic about the knock-on effects of the Olympics. I heard


John Major saying today this will be a massive boost for Britain and


get us back on track. I'm not sure that is the case. I think the


Olympics are great. And it is a great sporting event. You want them


to be smaller and cheaper, that is what you were expecting? Everybody


knows when you set the Olympic budget, it is likely to end up more


than it was. In terms of the organisation. The strength of this


Olympics has been the organisation, it is extremely good, you look at


the number of people going to all the event. The legacy planning is


better than other Olympics, it couldn't be much worse. If there is


a problem, we want these Olympic on grounds of diversity and inclusion.


-- Olympics on grounds of diversity and inclusion. That story isn't as


strong. It is not quite as clear to me what the core message of the


Olympics are, what are we trying to say about Britain, other than we


are good at organising major events. You have been at the Olympic Park,


what is the message? I think it is a poor look when John Major says


everything will be OK. I have enjoyed myself, I have a Willy


Wonka golden ticket I can go to everything, being low on the roster


of experts, that usually means the trampolining and the live goat


racing. But it is basically it is enormous, far too large. I have


been writing it from the Opening Ceremony, right up close, face


pressed against the window. You can't begin to comprehend it.


Whatever you are at there is something better happening down the


road T might be an hour across London or out at Eton Dorney, there


is 17 different athletics tracks in the one park. 1948 sounds like it


was comprehensible, you had fit, strong young people running around


in circles and you gave medals to the best ones. Now I spend a couple


of days in the McDonalds, why it would be the main sponsor,


McDonalds, Coca-Cola and Heineken, the three dietry supplements you


need to be an athlete, and then you have the busiest McDonalds in the


world at the centre of it, it sounds bogus. Kids we are talking


about, will sit down, watch television and emulate this, they


will go out and eat Hamburgers. There was another attempt, apart


from inclusion and diversity to give these Olympics a distinct feel,


that is when Boris in Beijing did his bumling brilliance that they


would be more humane and generous, because of corporate sponsorship,


security and high-tech, we haven't been able to to that either. What


is the legacy from that? interested in this point about


London, and what London is like in 1948 and in 2012. To me, London is


a proud, diverse, multicultural city now, with so many nations, so


many different cultures coming together, living shoulder-to-


shoulder with each other, that is what London is about to me. And we


have the games. You don't want these countries to come to London


and be supported by people who support all that diversity, all


those countries coming together, and everyone has someone who wants


to support those nations and to see the Sculler from Niger competing at


rowing with support. It is sur priegs you don't want that. What is


the legacy of these games, in if a year's time, what will we remember?


People will have memories for the rest of their memories. What is


life, other than fantastic memories. It is a snapshot or photograph?


don't think it is an enormous amount more than. That the most


disappointing thing is our hopes this would increase sporting


participation, especially for disadvantage groups, has not been


fulfilled and next year we will see cuts in school sports. We will have


to fight hard to keep that. I have an 11-year-old daughter, I want


sports available my daughter can play. I totally agree we don't need


more football and tennis, what about handball, and the women's


football team. What about the women rowers winning today, what about


the women psyche cysts all the -- cyclists, all the female role


models. So my daughter has someone to look up to as an 11-year-old,


and think, I won't sit and watch Disney channel and X Factor, but to


go out and get a good heart and lungs. Did it have to happen here


and Britain spend the countless billions? Yes, because we wouldn't


have invested in those sports, and have a home entry for sports like


handball or volley ball, those role models wouldn't be there.


should we pretend we will make money out of it and get �9 billion


out. Why not say it is a gift, we are putting it on for the world,


come back and have fun. It is hard to measure how much money you make


from something. We should just give it away. I don't think the goal of


the Olympic Games was to say, let's put it on and make money. The goal


was to create the greatest show on earth and show what a beautiful


city London is to the world. legacy planning in East London is


good, the thing we can be hopeful that we won't see stories about


derelict sites. I think they have done everything they can to


mitigate that possibility. When you walk through the Olympic Park now,


it is easy to imagine tumbleweed. If you look at other Olympics, if


nations improve their performance and the Olympics after that and


that their performance dips, there isn't really a strategy to build on


sporting participation on what is achieved at the Olympics.


disagree, look at the creation of role models in the sports I have


mentioned. The effect of a successful games we had in Sydney,


we have gone from one Olympic medal in 1996, Great Britain, then we had


a National Lottery, people put money into sport, we have invested


in sport, and now we win 19 gold medals in the Beijing Olympics.


Thank you for bringing in the medals and thank you for. That they


are getting bigger as the years go on. Nice it see you all. That's all


from Newsnight, Kirsty here on from Newsnight, Kirsty here on


Monday, have a good weekend. It looks like Saturday will be


another day of sunny spells, and also some heavy showers, the


showers, initially of the lighter variety, but come the afternoon


they will be turning heavy across parts of northern England in


particular, a focal point for some thunder, lightning and rain in a


short space of time. As you get towards the south eastern corner,


leading something of a charmed life, the showers few and far between,


that is good news for most of the Olympic venues, it is dryer than


elsewhere in the UK. Lots of heavy showers in parts of the south-west


of England. The east of Wales a focal point for heavy showers, as


the Midlands, the further west you are decent spells of sunshine


coming and going, the odd light shower as well. Northern Ireland,


well sunshine here from time to time, but equally the cloud will


thicken up and produce some showers. Temperatures never getting out of


the high teens, similar temperatures in Scotland. 19 or so


in Glasgow. It is south of Glasgow where most of the heaviest showers


are likely to be. Through the evening a lot of those showers tend


to fade away, they will be back again on Sunday. Meanwhile, if you


are heading off into northern Europe, an unsettled look for


things for Amsterdam, Paris and Berlin, with showers through the


weekend, meanwhile further south through the Mediterranean, it is


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