“On the Olympics she was telling me it was an enormous opportunity. Think of the impact on our young people, on fitness, on sport, on the country’s self belief. I would say, ‘Yes, but suppose we get beaten, and what’s worse, we get beaten by the French and I end up humiliated?’ One day when I had finished saying this to her in graphic terms, sitting in the Downing Street garden where, if the sun was shining, I would sit and have one-to-one meetings, she looked at me reproachfully and said ‘I really didn’t think that was your attitude to leadership. I thought you were prepared to take a risk. And it is a big risk. Of course we may not win but at least we will have had the courage to try.’ when Tessa says this, you feel a complete wimp and rather ashamed. You know she is manipulating you, but you also know it’s a successful manipulation. ‘Oh, Ok, we’ll go for it.’ ”
The wimp in question is none other than former British Prime Minister Tony Blair explaining in his memoirs (published today) how the decision to bid for the Olympics was arrived at with Tessa Jowell, the minister with overall responsibility for sport at the time. It’s good to see a sophisticated economic power engaging in carefully structured debate before reaching a major economic decision.