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Wonderful lessons to be learnt

Janet Daley in the Telegraph

I confess I was not, to put it mildly, an enthusiast for the idea of having the Games in London. This was primarily because, as a commuter, I was convinced that the city’s infrastructure – which breaks down roughly every 20 minutes under normal rush hour conditions – could not possibly cope with the pressure.

What I had not anticipated was that the spectacularly effective campaign of advance warnings and threats to London’s travelling public would cause so much of its working population to abandon the capital. Thus the evacuation of traditionally depressive, harassed, exhausted Londoners made way for the arrival of a lot of rather sweet, smiley people who turned the city into a very jolly and, momentarily, carefree place.

. . .Have we, as everybody keeps saying, learnt something very important about the national character which will be worth hanging on to after the crowds have dispersed and the venues have been sold off?

You bet we have. The Olympics were an unapologetic festival of competitiveness, pursuit of individual excellence, almost superhuman self-discipline, and uncompromising reward for merit. They were, in other words, a celebration of all those aspects of the human condition which the political fashion and educational ideology of the past 40 years has attempted to denigrate. And the country loved it. Indeed, it was ecstatically untroubled by the fact that some people – who were exceptionally talented and phenomenally dedicated – won, and some other people, with considerable courage and no dishonour, lost.

Just a thought: I wonder if this is why, notwithstanding Ed Miliband’s effusion in our pages, the rest of the Labour front bench have been largely invisible during the events. Was there something about the unashamed glorification of personal achievement – of winning because you were the very best that it was possible to be – that made them feel uncomfortable?

And Janet has wonderfully more. Read it all.

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