I wonder how many readers of this column lined the Mall last week to watch the pomp and pageant of the royal wedding, or attended street parties in celebration? The wedding went off without a hitch. We always do state occasions rather well.
The day before the wedding, I was in the House of Commons debating our next great national event: the Olympics.
Stratford’s skyline attests to progress in construction of the venues and reminds us how quickly the Games will be here.
As you’d expect, there are still laws needed, to ensure all goes smoothly.
Last Thursday we debated the latest Olympic Bill, covering measures to deal with unlawful trading, ticket touting and traffic management regulations.
If not handled properly, they will blight the Games and rightly cause resentment among local people and businesses.
Success depends on the effectiveness of the organisation and the experience of visitors and athletes. Success will be judged by the legacy left behind, long after the athletes have gone.
We bid for the Games pledging,
“By staging the Games in London, the most enduring legacy of the Olympics will be the regeneration of an entire community for the direct benefit of everyone who lives there.”
A big ambition, but I did not, and do not, believe it is unachievable.
The Games represent a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to make real, constructive differences to our whole community.
The Olympic and Paralympic Games cannot be simply a brief sporting and cultural spectacle for summer 2012. They must generate lasting improvements in Londoners’ health, housing, employment and skills.
To spend that much money and achieve no lasting and positive legacy would be obscene.