As the London Olympics gathers pace, I might momentarily forget about its utter commercialism and corruption and financial mismanagement (what else would you call a bid for £2.4 billion and an ultimate cost of £11 billion?).
Am tempted to see the Olympic flame go past in North London on the 25th of July. In other words, it’s a sport after all, isn’t it?
And Olympic fever will ultimately take over with wall to wall media coverage. And why not?
It might be the last piece of ‘good news’ before the hangover after the night before.
I will return to this theme regularly as it’s something most of us seem to be ignoring:
a) what happens if the Scots do vote to take the first step to independence? Beyond a few weeks of commentariat unease over the date of the referendum (2013 or Bannockburn year of 2014), it’s not an unspoken issue among political parties and movements in the South, i.e. England.
It will be an utter shock to the elite. Three centuries of domination and then, suddenly, ‘separation’ or ‘national liberation’ (take your pick)… it’s not something to just shrug off.
The entire thorny problem of English identity, nationhood and culture needs to be addressed.
I am worried it will be hijacked by the Right while the Centre-Right (New Labour) will mouth measly platitudes to be tough on immigration (as Miliband kicked off recently) and ‘celebrate’ English history in a wholly artificial (go and do some street parties) setting.
It will be a profound shock as “losing India” in 1947. A collective depression among the elite.
Surely, London will have to give up the seat at the UN Security Council?
And can the English Army continue to follow the Pentagon all over the world?
Purpose, character and direction: these will have to be decided. What is England for?
b) Sterling is sitting pretty as the Euro slowly implodes. One can almost feel the complacency among the elite and even much of the population as they calculate how far sterling will go in the holidays.
Yet, isn’t sterling vulnerable? It collapsed 30% after Lehman.
Where will it go if there is another banking collapse?
Isn’t UK PLC one of the most indebted of the major European nations with £1 Trillion in the red?
Does London think that Paris, Berlin, Rome and more will just sit back and let England (and the rest) bask in new glory and prosperity as capital flees to London?
Isn’t the lop-sided English economy (over reliant on bankrupt banks) in danger of falling over?
The propaganda about financial services, invisible exports, creative ‘industries’, university education, tourism……. taking us to a post-industrial paradise…. well, you believe if you want to…. …. with the Norwegians saving North Sea Oil to form a gigantic sovereign fund while England has.. zip.. (no fund at all)…. I would say “London, we have a problem”.
Sterling and the entire business model of betting all on the City of London look like they could take a beating.
By 2017, we could be facing ruin with all its side effects of civil strife.
The 1970s will look like a stroll in the park, though that decade (with its hangover after the boom party of the 1960s) can teach us a lot about how delusions turn to dust.
The worst case scenario by 2017 could therefore include:
- sterling crisis
- City of London and the banks falling apart
- UK breaks up as Scotland leaves
- Civil unrest as youth unemployment reaches Southern European levels
Likely? Don’t know.
But that’s the whole point of looking at scenarios. Prepare for the Worst, Hope for the Best
Now, look at the ‘debate’ around and see just how the entire political class and intelligentsia are skirting the edges and refusing to ask the tough questions.
Instead, the Tory-Lib Right use the crisis to roll back the 1945 post war settlement while New Labour posture with the same thing (but over a longer time period expecting to get to power and then announce that the books were in worst shape than they thought and …..)
And did I mention the non-existent debate about climate change? Why bother?
It went out the window along with carbon trading as the investment banks saw that ‘opportunity’ disappear.
Athens had its Olympics in 2004 and had no idea of what was just around the corner.
London has a similar feel.
They used to say: don’t mention the war.
Now, it’s almost: don’t mention the collapse. It’s too painful to contemplate.