Diary: Where are all our athletes? The Tories got rid of them

"Why is it that, in so many schools, sport has been squeezed out and facilities run down?" David Cameron asked yesterday, in a speech which lamented the low promotion of Britain's top athletes who have been through state schools.

It is hard to believe that the Prime Minister does not know the causes of the problem. The last Conservative government tightened the education budget but gave schools the freedom to raise money by selling their playing fields. One estimate is that 10,000 school playing fields disappeared under concrete in the Tory years.

In 1998, the Labour government introduced rules which banned sales of any sports fields except those that were "genuinely surplus" – which did not stop another 203 disappearing in 12 years. The great sports sell-off continued even after the announcement in 2007 that London would be hosting the 2012 Olympics.

And there is another problem, on which I can do no better than quote what Sam Allardyce, manager of West Ham, told The Sun a year ago: "Since Margaret Thatcher stopped teachers being paid extra money for coaching sports after school, all sporting activities have diminished on a competitive basis. Kids are now more obese and unfit than ever. All the prime young athletes we were ready to develop just aren't there."

Blunt Claire Perry knows her bankers

I had occasion last week to mention the fruity language used in public by Claire Perry, Tory MP and Government loyalist.

However, to give her her due, she is someone who knows whereof she speaks when discussing the banking scandal, having once worked in a bank and witnessed what she calls the "big swinging dicks" culture there.

"As a middle manager it was easy to see that those at the top were being paid huge amounts of money," she wrote in her weekly column for the Wiltshire Gazette yesterday. "I am always a fan of big rewards for big effort but in some cases never has so much been earned by so many for doing so little."

Sugar prescribes bitter pill

Lord Sugar, on the other hand, thinks that some of what the banks have been doing is fair and defensible, notably their reluctance to lend to businesses which might not survive the recession.

Politicians say to the bankers "why aren't you lending to that bloke?", he told the House Magazine, "that hopeless cause over there, complete and utter hopeless cause who's doing all the moaning, all the mouthing off, catching the Sky television cameras and some of the opposition politicians saying 'yeah, yeah, poor Harry here, you know, he can't get this and can't get...' Well, poor Harry in some cases is not entitled to it. Poor Harry has got a bust business. And poor Harry shouldn't have any money invested in him. Simple as that."

A spin-doctor with a heart

Gaby Bertin, David Cameron's long-serving press secretary, is an oxymoron – a Downing Street spin-doctor with a kind heart. Living in Harlow, Essex, is a 16-year-old named Gaby Bertin, who wrote to her local MP Robert Halfon to say that she was intrigued by her namesake operating at the seat of political power. Yesterday Gaby the spin-doctor put aside part of a morning so that Gaby the teenager could have a tour of 10 Downing Street.

Tory rebel has his eyes on another seat

Walter Sweeney, a bed-and-breakfast proprietor who is running as an independent for the job of Yorkshire Police Commissioner, is remembered in Westminster for having a very small majority and missing a vital vote because he could not get out of the toilet. He won the Vale of Glamorgan in 1992 by just 19 votes, and became a right-wing rebel. It was never established whether he missed that vital vote on the Maastricht Treaty because he had locked himself in the loo by accident, or the government whips locked him in.

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs People

Compensation and Benefits Manager - Brentwood - Circa £60,000

£60000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Compensation and Benefits Manager - Compensat...

Finance Manager - Recruitment Business (Media & Entertainment)

£28000 - £35000 per annum + negotiable: Sauce Recruitment: We have an exciting...

HR Advisor - North London / North West London

£30000 - £35000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: HR Advisor - North London...

Finance Manager - Recruitment Business (Media & Entertainment)

£28000 - £32000 per annum + negotiable: Sauce Recruitment: We have an exciting...

Day In a Page

Wilko Johnson, now the bad news: musician splits with manager after police investigate assault claims

Wilko Johnson, now the bad news

Former Dr Feelgood splits with manager after police investigate assault claims
Mark Udall: The Democrat Senator with a fight on his hands ahead of the US midterm elections

Mark Udall: The Democrat Senator with a fight on his hands

The Senator for Colorado is for gay rights, for abortion rights – and in the Republicans’ sights as they threaten to take control of the Senate next month
New discoveries show more contact between far-flung prehistoric humans than had been thought

New discoveries show more contact between far-flung prehistoric humans than had been thought

Evidence found of contact between Easter Islanders and South America
Cerys Matthews reveals how her uncle taped 150 interviews for a biography of Dylan Thomas

Cerys Matthews on Dylan Thomas

The singer reveals how her uncle taped 150 interviews for a biography of the famous Welsh poet
DIY is not fun and we've finally realised this as a nation

Homebase closures: 'DIY is not fun'

Homebase has announced the closure of one in four of its stores. Nick Harding, who never did know his awl from his elbow, is glad to see the back of DIY
The Battle of the Five Armies: Air New Zealand releases new Hobbit-inspired in-flight video

Air New Zealand's wizard in-flight video

The airline has released a new Hobbit-inspired clip dubbed "The most epic safety video ever made"
Pumpkin spice is the flavour of the month - but can you stomach the sweetness?

Pumpkin spice is the flavour of the month

The combination of cinnamon, clove, nutmeg (and no actual pumpkin), now flavours everything from lattes to cream cheese in the US
11 best sonic skincare brushes

11 best sonic skincare brushes

Forget the flannel - take skincare to the next level by using your favourite cleanser with a sonic facial brush
Paul Scholes column: I'm not worried about Manchester United's defence - Chelsea test can be the making of Phil Jones and Marcos Rojo

Paul Scholes column

I'm not worried about Manchester United's defence - Chelsea test can be the making of Jones and Rojo
Frank Warren: Boxing has its problems but in all my time I've never seen a crooked fight

Frank Warren: Boxing has its problems but in all my time I've never seen a crooked fight

While other sports are stalked by corruption, we are an easy target for the critics
Jamie Roberts exclusive interview: 'I'm a man of my word – I'll stay in Paris'

Jamie Roberts: 'I'm a man of my word – I'll stay in Paris'

Wales centre says he’s not coming home but is looking to establish himself at Racing Métro
How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?

A crime that reveals London's dark heart

How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?
Meet 'Porridge' and 'Vampire': Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker

Lost in translation: Western monikers

Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker. Simon Usborne, who met a 'Porridge' and a 'Vampire' while in China, can see the problem
Handy hacks that make life easier: New book reveals how to rid your inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone

Handy hacks that make life easier

New book reveals how to rid your email inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone with a loo-roll
KidZania lets children try their hands at being a firefighter, doctor or factory worker for the day

KidZania: It's a small world

The new 'educational entertainment experience' in London's Shepherd's Bush will allow children to try out the jobs that are usually undertaken by adults, including firefighter, doctor or factory worker