Matthew Norman on Monday: Clegg's golden chance to cash in on the Olympian spirit - Diary - People - The Independent

Matthew Norman on Monday: Clegg's golden chance to cash in on the Olympian spirit

If I judge the national mood right – and gauging something so nebulous is never easy – a sense of Olympic enthusiasm is in the air today. So here is a chance for Nick Clegg. Nick has limited the quest for reflected glory to pointing out that his seat is in Jess Ennis' home town, and no doubt this will indeed cause the voters of Sheffield Hallam to forget tuition fees. In the meantime, the eruption of love for British Olympians suggests another opening. By weirdest happenstance, the only one in the Commons is the sprinter from whom Nick took the baton in the Lib Dem relay to oblivion. Ming Campbell, right, has strong feelings about boundary changes, warning after the Tory rebellion on Lords reform that his party would struggle to support the legislation essential to residual Tory hopes of a majority. Ming did not win a medal in the 200m, or 100m relay, in Tokyo in 1964. Even so, in the current climate, who would dare accuse the Lib Dems of treachery if they voted down the boundary changes after Ming began a speech on the importance of fair play with "As a British Olympian ..."?

Aussie triumph we can all cheer

"It is not enough to succeed. Others must fail"... nothing confirms the wisdom of Gore Vidal aperçu like Australia's Olympic efforts. But whatever the medals table says, it hasn't been a total washout. For all its inadequacy at sport (thank Christ they don't take it seriously), our former possession played a crucial part in Clare Balding's emergence as the age's outstanding sports broadcaster. Had she not been tutored, as a Cambridge English undergraduate, by Germaine Greer, would Clare be the powerhouse she is today? She would not, and the irony that Australia's major contribution to these Games lies in the scholastic field will cheer them up no end.

Crying shame for Inverdale

Thanks to Balders, Mishal Husain and the rest, the gender chasm in class between the BBC's finest has become unavoidably plain at last. So spare a thought for John Inverdale, that narcissus of the rugby changing room, who broke down in tears while consoling the defeated oarsmen on Saturday. This is not the time to recall how Richard Dimbleby shamefully held it together when reporting from Belsen in 1945, or even how Barry Davies let himself down by commentating on the horror of the Heysel Stadium without sobbing. Reflections on the BBC's tradition of rigid professionalism in emotional moments needn't poop the party today. But sometimes you don't half miss Des Lynam.

Amazing, and bad for the liver

To anyone playing the drinking game whereby you down a shot every time a victorious GB athlete a) can't believe what's happened; b) calls it as "incredible"; and c) further regards it, going that extra length for variety, as "amazing": farewell. There's always that tantalising hope of a liver transplant, of course, but the waiting list has octupled in three days.

Boris Doolittle... he's not posh at all

Overlooking his disdain for cashing in with any of his well-rehearsed spontaneous stunts, some wonder if Boris Johnson's ambition may extend beyond expertly mayoring us through these games. Personally, I regard the assumption that BJ, who jinxed Becky Adlington on Friday by metaphorically fellating Rupert Murdoch beside the pool, has his eyes on No 10 as ridiculous. But if Andrew Grice correctly reports that he has a squad of helpers to ease his passage to power (and Gricey's never wrong), Team Boris needs a better rebuttal of the can't- have-two-Etonians-in-a-row orthodoxy than Boris being "a scholarship boy" with a startlingly humble background.

This identical defence was trialled by Douglas Hurd in 1990, shortly before he was crushed by John Major.

It was intelligence-insulting gibberish then, and so it is now. Boris might as well do a closing ceremony turn as Alfred P Doolittle, dangling from his zip wire while singing "Get Me To The Church On Time".

As, wiv a little bit of bloomin' luck, he very well may.

Rupert still gives the orders

As for Murdoch, it seems his recent resignation from newspaper boards tempted dunces like me to write him off too soon. A Sun leader takes grave umbrage at the suspicions about the Chinese swimming wunderkind Ye Shiwen. If cerebral editor Dominic Mohan is still working to the Führer, by sucking up to Beijing on the Rupert's behalf, we obviously jumped the starter's gun in morosely chronicling the end of Murdoch's delicious influence on national life.

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