If UK can spend on Olympics, then why not on other things?

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Opinion digest: Olympic hyperbole raises tricky questions for pols – plus Murray’s stunning riposte to his critics

LAST UPDATED AT 11:31 ON Wed 12 Sep 2012

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POLITICIANS WILL PAY FOR HIJACKING GAMES
SIMON JENKINS ON THE OLYMPICS
 
The political hyperbole surrounding this year’s Olympic Games was maddening, writes Simon Jenkins in The Guardian. In fact, this “grasping for national pride exaggerated the event and cheapened the athletes' achievement”. Ordinary citizens had been in little doubt that London could stage a successful Olympics, given enough money. The real naysayers were the organisers themselves – let’s not forget how only six weeks ago, Boris Johnson was telling Londoners on the Tube to get out of town since hell was about to break loose. Yet now he is shamelessly hijacking the games, acclaiming a nation on a shining path to collective recovery. But hijacking any cultural enterprise to a political goal is dangerous and raises uncomfortable questions for our leaders that they may not want to answer. Why, for example, if we can spend like this for the Olympics, can we not do so for other purposes?

ANDY MURRAY MUSTN’T CHANGE NOW
MAGNUS LINKLATER ON THE US OPEN CHAMPION

Andy Murray’s victory at the US Open has proved his character to be far stronger than anyone could have dared to believe, writes Magnus Linklater in The Times. Subjected to years of intense scrutiny from the British press, it was never Murray’s talent that we doubted. He moved like an athlete, had a precocious knowledge of tennis and he wanted to win. Where qualms persisted, they focused on his temperament. And no one, Linklater says, shared those doubts more than Murray himself. Monday’s piece of tennis history was the best possible riposte to the doubters. As an outsider with a scarred personal history – he survived the Dunblane shooting -  the Scot has never conformed to the polite Home Counties persona that we have come to expect from our tennis heroes. But he is there to win, not to be liked. “Smooth away the rough edges”, Linklater writes, “and we could lose the player who has many more victories ahead of him.”

ONLY BRAVERY CAN SAVE ROMNEY NOW
DANIEL FINKELSTEIN ON THE WHITE HOUSE RACE

In this American election, both sides have mistakenly put their core voters first, writes Daniel Finkelstein in The Times. For Obama that means women, the young and African-Americans, for Romney it means white working men, talk radio listeners and the better-off. This strategy is questionable given that both candidates now need to win the hearts of the swing voters. What have they done to court this crucial portion of the electorate? Very little, and the inaction on Romney’s part risks handing victory to his rival without a fight. But with the debates ahead of him, Romney still has time to pull it back. An audacious appeal to the centre through a revived version of Teddy Roosevelt’s republicanism could be the answer. Telling Americans that while he believes in smaller government, he also favours an active one that is committed to American greatness, Romney may yet discover his winning formula - in the nick of time. · 

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