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Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Rulers and leaders part one.


It’s been a week or more since my last post. I’ve had other things to do.

The Commonwealth Games has been on the TV and I haven’t bothered to watch any of it, and I’m an athletics fan. It’s all to depressing to read about to actually want to watch it. Vanity projects almost always fail. Look at the Millennium Dome. When Labour to power in 1997, they could have scrapped it. It was by then already running late and over budget, but Bliar was always more interested in his legacy, so he gave the order to continue with it.

(As an aside- the Dome concept was identical to Wonderworld, which was to be built in an old quarry at Corby. For years the only evidence to any progress was a fading sign alongside the A43.)

There’s an old saying that you can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make him drink. The same with vanity projects. The same with any top-down decision. Just because our rulers want a big circus to show off how great they are, doesn’t always translate into willing bums on seats.
Look at the sites of the last two Olympic Games. Athens is deserted and ruined, and some of the arenas in Beijing have already been demolished.
In Delhi they didn’t even complete the damn eyesore. The stars of track and field have planned their programmes through to 2012 and Delhi was not part of their plan. No amount of money would persuade them to change their minds, so it was always going to be second rate.
Then there’s the audience, or lack of it. When you displace thousands of people to build your vanity project, you can hardly expect them to spend their own money coming to support it can you? When you factor in the publicity about the filth and bridges falling down and bits falling off buildings, the real risk of a terrorist attack…. It’s no wonder that people stay home.

A few thousand miles North West, in Afghanistan (another vanity project, this time costing lives and broken bodies as well), our soldiers, fighting an unwinnable war with outdated equipment against an invisible enemy, see the local population making themselves scarce, and they know that an attack is imminent. Was I the only one who looked at the empty arenas and made the same connection?

We may be witnessing the final Commonwealth Games. Our Queen is now in her eighties and commands respect and receives love from all of the world’s people. Her son does not. Australia has made it clear that they are happy to have the Queen as the monarch, but less happy about having Charles/George succeed her. I expect the Republicans to win the day there, closely followed by Canada and New Zealand. Once they become republics, the Commonwealth is no more.

Charliegeorge is not a popular man. He blew it when he dumped Diana for Camilla. I recall the headline in Bristol’s main newspaper on the day his wedding was announced. It said “Tetbury man to wed”. In any other age that would be tantamount to treason, but no-one objected. No-one.

Rulers aren’t always leaders. There’s a great scene in Monty Python and the Holy Grail that sums it up nicely. It’s the first two minutes of this clip.



Rulers may rule, but only with the consent of the powerful.
More to come on this.

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