London Mayor Ken Livingstone has let the cat out the
bag at a Mayoral hustings event when he admitted why
he wanted the 2012 Olympic Games to come to the capital.
He said, "I didn't bid for the Olympics because I wanted
three weeks of sport. I bid for the Olympics because
it's the only way to get the billions of pounds out
of the Government to develop the East End."
"It's exactly how I played it to ensnare the Government
to put money into an area it has neglected for 30 years."
Here we have a Labour mayor manipulating
a Labour government into regenerating a part of the
city that has been neglected for a generation despite
Red Ken's party being in government for the past eleven
Livingstone also admitted that he knew
the original budget for the Games was an underestimate
and that it was likely to rise significantly if London
hosted the event.
His admission comes three days after
the chairman of the influential Public Accounts Committee
accused Livingstone and the Olympics minister, Tessa
Jowell, of misleading parliament and the public over
the budget issue.
When London bid for the Games the budget
was put at £4bn, a figure that proved wildly inaccurate,
spiralling to £9.3bn, the figure announced by Jowell
in March last year.
Jowell has always insisted the £4bn
figure was given in good faith and was based on the
best available evidence, but Livingstone yesterday said
he knew it was inaccurate, and reiterated that his support
for the bid was motivated by a desire to attract government
investment to the east end of London.
"I was fairly certain that it would
end up costing us more [than £4bn]," he told Radio Five
Live. "I could not make the case for massive investment
in London if we did not have the sword of Damocles of
the Olympics hanging over us.
I would never have got what will be
close to £10bn of investment without the Olympics. My
assumption was that it would not be that far out [of
£4bn] but most of the increase in the budget is because
the government has decided to invest in 35,000 homes
rather than 6,000, so we are building for a far larger
Livingstone thought the Games would
cost less than the £9.3bn funding package. "I am fairly
confident that the infrastructure, the venues and such
like will cost just over £7bn, and the security budget
will take it up to around £8bn."
He also said he would have refused
permission for Chinese secret service officers to accompany
London's torch relay had he known their identity.
"We were told they were flame attendants,
which is a bit like the head of the British security
services being described as a street operative for wet
jobs. Had we known, we would have said no. When we get
the 200 Olympic teams here with presidents and prime
ministers we must be very firm that diplomatic protection
must be provided by British police officers rather than
goons you might bring in who might shoot a member of
the public just for getting in the way."
Agreed on this point, Mr Livingstone,
but your party has an appalling record of letting in