As a proud Olympisceptic (so up yours Martin Kettle) I have been looking askance at the series of Olympic gaffes so far. Getting North Korea’s flag wrong was a mistake of truly breath-taking proportions and demonstrated gross stupidity as well as insensitivity (can you imagine the outcry if Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland were playing in South, sorry North, Korea and officials there used the English cross of St George instead?)
Getting Joe Allen’s nationality, not so. In Britain these identities can be interchangeable anyway and I’m not sure why people are making such a big deal about it. It was a pretty innocent error I’m sure.
Of course all these little teething troubles pale into insignificance compared to the behemoth of fuck-ups: G4S. It is quite reasonable to argue that their behaviour in the run-up to the Olympics has been criminally negligent and it is a sad parable of modern Britain that they will probably carry on getting government contracts post-games. In that regard the recent remarks made by president of the IOC Jacques Rogge on the issue are quite interesting:
“They have found a solution. We are happy with it and we are very confident that security will be very, very good. The problem has been identified. The company will compensate for the extra costs to the government and really it is time to move to a different issue. We are not going to enter in to a blame game. We are not going to point fingers because it is useless.”
Time to move on. Forget about it. Naturally.
Now of course if there is a serious security breach at the games you can bet that the discussion will be far from over and it that respect it is a bit of a daft thing to say. Tempting fate maybe. A hostage to fortune.
But let’s leave that to one side, as what I’m interested in is this idea of ‘moving on’, a concept familiar to all of us who try and engage right-wingers in debate.
Now call me cynical but I’m inclined to suspect that Rogge doesn’t want issues of corporate incompetence and irresponsibility discussed in any great deal. He will want the subject changed pretty sharpish. The IOC is a giant, corporate-sponsored, cross-border junket that depends on firms just like G4S. Vast sums of money are involved and that of course means that criticism of corporate contamination of ‘Olympic values’ (whatever they are) must be kept to a minimum. We have seen that with the behaviour of the despicable rodent Seb Coe of late. He just isn’t interested in engaging with issues around the role of corporations at the Olympics and sees his role as that of a defender of corporations and their profit-making. You can almost see the £ signs in his eyes. I’m sure he’ll get his reward.
‘Moving on’ is an argument that people who don’t want their own views and behaviour examined. It was a constant refrain of the Blairites after the Iraq war turned into a disaster. It’s a debating tool used by supporters of privatization and marketization after the changes they desire have been made. They want them set in stone. It’s been used by people in the NHS to justify engaging with the ‘reforms’: they’re happening, they can’t be stopped, so let’s just move on and make the best of them.
It’s a deliberate method of shutting down the debate and silencing dissent, and is used by people who know they can’t win an argument.
So we shouldn’t ‘move to a different issue’. The dismal record of G4S exposes the politically bankrupt heart of this government’s agenda and we shouldn’t allow them, or G4S, get away with it. Playing the blame game is a good idea. Fingers need to be pointed, Jacques. It would be highly useful. The opposite of useless.