Warning: This post was published more than 8 years ago.
I keep old posts on the site because sometimes it's interesting to read old content. Not everything that is old is bad. Also, I think people might be interested to track how my views have changed over time: for example, how my strident teenage views have mellowed and matured!
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Many thanks for your understanding.
Cast your mind back, if you will, to 1999.
Almost a decade ago, the shiny new(ish) Labour Government decided it was important to celebrate the Millennium, and that an appropriate way to do this would be to build a nice big white tent in Greenwich.
And oh, it was a lovely white tent. So strong, it’s still there to this day. So monumental, it has its own tube station. So loved by the nation, it’s in the Eastenders title sequence.
Yet they had a problem: What to put inside the tent. Ideas were flowing, for everything from a Festival of Britain for the modern age, to a theme park. So many choices, so many options, so many decisions.
So, in the end, they went with an elephant: A big white elephant, to be precise.
Tony Blair thought the elephant and it’s dome would be “a beacon to the world”. I was more cynical: I’d not been a fan of elephants for some years, since an unfortunate collision between an elephant’s trunk and a particularly sensitive part of my anatomy.
For once, it seemed the public agreed with me, leaving the elephant unvisited and the government red-faced.
This left Tony’s team scrambling to regain any sense that they were “in touch” with the people. So, in a masterpiece of spin, they simply denied that the dome contained a white elephant. They told us it contained all sorts of fun treats, that the public would really, really like to see.
When that didn’t seem to be working, they brought in a frog to feature alongside the elephant, a strategy that brought in about six-and-a-half million visitors, yet still continued to deny the primarily elephantine contents of the dome.
“It’s great!”, they told us. “Come visit the dome and see the special treats within! It’s fun for all the family! It’s not a white elephant, it’s a rip-roaring smorgasbord of good natured wholesome British fun!”
Even once the dome closed, they still protested that the contents had been “really good”, and certainly in no-way elephant related.
That is, it seems, until last week.
In an extraordinary interview with LBC, Tessa Jowell not only admitted the existence of the white elephant, but – unbelievably – insisted that white elephants were to be banned from the Olympics, since the white elephant in the dome had been such an embarrassment for all.
Is it really fair to blame this failure of Government competence on the white elephant itself? What happened to ministerial responsibility? I’m quite sure the elephant did its best to entertain people, but was placed in a rather impossible position by this Labour Government.
And, more pertinently, why are all white elephants being tarred with the same brush and being banned from the Olympics?
I very much doubt this would happen with Indian or African elephants – no, that would be racist – but it’s perfectly fine to discriminate against the hard-working, white, middle-class elephant families of these British Isles, whilst allowing any foreign elephants to just wander into the Olympics as they see fit.
It’s absolutely sickening that the respectable white elephants of this country should be treated this way by an incompetent government. When the government starts prioritising the Olympic dreams of other country’s elephants above our own, surely the whole country is going to hell in a handcart.