London Olympics: 'festival of military and corporate power'
Opinion Digest: what happened to the People's Games? – and what should happen to Nick Clegg
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CORPORATE LOCKDOWN, NOT GAMES FOR ALL
SEUMAS MILNE ON THE LONDON OLYMPICS
London's Olympic Stadium is starting to look like a militarised occupation zone, writes Seumas Milne in The Guardian. "The Olympics are the focus of Britain's largest security mobilisation since the second world war." Around 13,500 soldiers are being deployed, more than currently in Afghanistan. Drones will patrol the skies, and missiles will sit on the roofs of tower blocks. Many see the Games as having very little to do with them. And they'd be right. The funding may come overwhelmingly from public money, but private corporations are calling the shots, with Coca-Cola, Cadbury's, Heineken and McDonald's sponsoring and branding an event that is supposed to promote health. The Olympics hold up a mirror to society. "What is being played out in London reflects a legacy of the war on terror and deregulation of unbridled corporate power." It's all "a long way from the Olympic ideals of promoting peace, internationalism and participation through sport".
MEANS-TESTING THE ELDERLY IS UNFAIR
JEREMY WARNER ON THE COST OF CARE
If you are a pensioner, or soon to become one, batten down the hatches, says Jeremy Warner in The Daily Telegraph. With public finances strained to breaking point, "your tax breaks and entitlements are about to come under sustained siege". While the Government is expected to cap the amounts older people are expected to pay towards their care, they would likely fund this concession by means-testing some entitlements. "What the state gives with one hand, it will take away with the other." Free bus passes, free TV licences and winter fuel allowances could be the first to go for better-off pensioners. But means-testing pensioners' benefits is unfair and fails to recognise the contribution to society and the tax system that pensioners have made. It will also "raise peanuts". It's far better "to encourage people to save for their old age". Years of government meddling and financial services industry malpractice haven't helped. But means-testing will make things worse.
PUT NICK CLEGG BACK IN HIS PLAYPEN
MAX HASTINGS ON THE STATE OF THE COALITION
Nick Clegg and his Lib Dems have an eye for the irrelevant and trivial which would be richly comical if they weren't part of Britain's coalition government, says Max Hastings in The Daily Mail. Clegg's Lord's Reform proposals are, predictably, turning into a political shambles. The government has already been obliged to cancel a key vote on the Bill, because close to 100 Tory MPs would have refused to support it. "Now, we are faced with weeks of wrangling and endless discussion in Parliament about the Lords, which will only serve to distract from the business of governing." At a time when Britain faces "some of the most serious peace-time challenges of the past century" - reviving the economy and our global competitiveness, redefining our relationship with Europe - Nick Clegg and his MPs have become a "dead-weight" on policy making. Now the Cleggies' bluff is being called. It's time for the PM to put Clegg "back into his playpen".
AT LEAST BOB DIAMOND CAN AFFORD CUSTARD CREAMS
CHRISTINA PATTERSON ON HOUSEHOLD INCOMES
Bob Diamond may have given up his £20m bonus, but he will still walk away from Barclays with more than £2m in salary and entitlements, says Christina Patterson in The Independent. You can buy a lot of custard creams for that. You can, in fact, live a "decent life", according to a report from the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, which looked at the everyday things people needed to have an "acceptable" standard of living, and included custard creams in its shopping basket. When the Foundation compared the results with a similar study in 2007 they found "the cost of having these things hasn't fallen, but incomes, if you don't work in banking, have". Since 2008, household incomes in the UK have declined or stagnated. Incomes are falling in most industrialised western nations, and we need people who can address this issue. "People, for example, who might want to think about giving more than a bonus back."