I’m not a big fan of the Olympics, but I have found a damn good reason to support them, it is a celebration of everything the left wing hates:
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?
The Left generally has not known quite how to position itself in all this. There was some rather mean-minded bleating among the Left-wing commentariat about “elitism” when there turned out to be a disproportionate number of private school people among the winners – but why should this surprise anybody? Since the collapse of standards in state education there have been a disproportionate number of private school people succeeding in every walk of life. Which brings us to the “lessons to be learnt”.
David Cameron has got characteristically bogged down in a squabble with the teaching unions over whose fault it is that sport has declined so much in state schools. Accusations about the Government selling off playing fields and abandoning targets for mandatory PE have been flung across the barricades only to be countered with evidence of the teachers’ refusal to supervise out-of-hours activities.
It was all hugely unedifying and utterly beside the point. The “lesson to be learnt” is much bigger than the availability of sports facilities, although that – and the attitude of teachers towards competitive sport – certainly does come into it.