Martin Hannan: Baton drops in Games robbery

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The news that got buried that the £377 million savings on the Olympic Games are to go back to the Treasury rather than sport and good causes is the ultimate proof that the coalition government is morally bankrupt.

I say well done to the London organising committee for bringing in the Games under budget. Far be it from me to point out that the general collapse in the construction industry due to the recession may well have been a somewhat bigger factor in reducing costs rather than superb management shown by the organisers.

Millions were diverted away from good causes and things like sport in Scotland to pay for the Olympics, but now the UK Government is hellbent on wringing every last pound that it can from Olympic funds. If even nine per cent of the reallocated funds had gone to Scotland then somewhere in excess of £30m would be coming our way – think of all the good that could be done with that money.

I don’t think anything has angered me so much in years. I had been saying for some time that Scotland would not get its fair share of construction contracts and all the other monies that were generated by the Olympics.

It is not being anti-British or small-minded to suggest that Scotland was undoubtedly the poor relation when it came to the allocation of contracts. It’s just stating a fact.

Only a tiny percentage of the Olympic contracts went to firms based in Scotland despite the promises of riches from the organising committee.

It is not too late for the coalition to think again about this piece of blatant daylight robbery. They could do themselves a lot of good, reputation-wise, by reversing this decision and giving the money to causes and places that lost out in the run-up to the Olympics. Or else, for me and a lot of people, the good Olympic memories will be besmirched by the knowledge that all along, cash was king for a government which is so cynical in that it knows the price of everything and the value of nothing.

I have no hesitation as someone who defends Edinburgh’s cause to say that the £30m should go to Glasgow so that the Commonwealth Games gets the kind of funding it needs. That would only be fair after billions went to London for the Olympics.

I find real cause for anger at the conduct of the UK Government. In effect, they are removing money that should have gone to sports and other good causes and putting it back into the Treasury to fill one of the many gaps created by the policy which will yet reduce this country to penury.

According to the statistics we have come out of a recession, but when someone spends billions at a large event such as the Olympics which employed tens of thousands of people then of course you’re going to get out of a recession.

Can’t the government see the evidence for its own eyes? When you’re in a recession the government has to spend money, not hoard it.

It’s a basic tenet of modern economic theory which they ignore. The UK is not going bust, there is plenty time to pay back Britain’s debt, and robbing sport and good causes is not the way to solve the problem.

Shame on them for their perfidy.

Sing the praises

It was a privilege and pleasure to be in the Festival Theatre on Friday night to watch the final of Edinburgh’s Got Talent. You might say I’m biased because I work for the News, but in truth I was more than a little apprehensive going to the show because I’ve seen so many amateur talent contests where the talent should never been on a stage.

Thankfully I was proved utterly wrong in my surmise.

The whole show was professionally staged, and the Festival Theatre hosted a good crowd who supported every act. But it was a talent of the young people themselves which won the night.

The oldest competitor, Leona Rae, from Wester Hailes was just 31 and she wrote her own song which was so catchy that I’m sure she could sell it to one of the big record companies. She also has a fantastic soul diva voice 
herself and should surely get more recognition.

The winner, Rebecca Traynor, deserved the prize for her guts in returning to the contest after finishing second last year. She truly was a terrific performer and hopefully we’ll hear more of her.

The runners-up were also quite superb, but it was a couple of acts who didn’t actually get a place who really caught my eye and ear. Chloe McLean was quite brilliant and had the audience clapping along with her fusion of Highland dance and rock music. A Scottish Riverdancer in the making? Why not? She is only 12 and I think the Yes Scotland campaign should sign her as a poster girl right now.

Ciara Harvie sang in French with a powerful voice that blew me away. What a talent she is. They were all brilliant, though, and all those people who knock Scotland and say we do not have the talents among our young people should be made to watch the show and see how vastly wrong they are.

Edinburgh’s Got Talent, Scotland’s got talent. It’s time we shouted about it.