The public is right to be angry over this amazing disaster

Share

Another "amazing day" in the story of the Dome, although hardly in the sense that its creators would have hoped for. Just when we thought that the Dome had exhausted its capacity to spring nasty surprises, along comes the frightening news that Nomura, the bank that seemed willing to pay £105m to take it off the Government's hands, has pulled out of the deal. At this rate the Dome may end up joining Longbridge on the list of things you can buy for a tenner. Maybe there will be a "two- zones-for-a-fiver" special. But, in the words of the Conservative culture spokesman Peter Ainsworth: "Who would buy a used Dome from this Government?"

Another "amazing day" in the story of the Dome, although hardly in the sense that its creators would have hoped for. Just when we thought that the Dome had exhausted its capacity to spring nasty surprises, along comes the frightening news that Nomura, the bank that seemed willing to pay £105m to take it off the Government's hands, has pulled out of the deal. At this rate the Dome may end up joining Longbridge on the list of things you can buy for a tenner. Maybe there will be a "two- zones-for-a-fiver" special. But, in the words of the Conservative culture spokesman Peter Ainsworth: "Who would buy a used Dome from this Government?"

Mr Ainsworth may be allowed his gloat at the discomfiture of ministers. But he and his party should never be allowed to forget that it was they who came up with the original proposal. That well-known Tory memoirist Michael Heseltine serves still as a Millennium Commissioner. Indeed, the list of guilty men and women associated with the Dome is a very long one. Partly for this reason, it has been difficult to apportion responsibility for all that has gone wrong.

Certainly, it is grossly unfair and patently absurd to blame the man currently responsible for it, Lord Falconer, for all of the Dome's problems. It is not his fault that the contents failed to live up to expectations. It may indeed be the case, as Lord Falconer points out, that it has still been the most popular paid-for visitor attraction in the country; that those who visited it enjoyed it; and that a neglected corner of London has benefited from regeneration.

But it is not necessary to denigrate the Dome to recognise the single most potent fact about the project: that it has been a vast and unmitigated financial blunder involving a waste of perhaps £1bn of public funds, upon which there were many better calls. Admittedly, most of that money was spent cleaning up the site long before Lord Falconer arrived on the scene. But he has been politically responsible for the Dome since he took over from Peter Mandelson in December 1998, and is certainly accountable for the failed Nomura deal. If Lord Falconer cannot satisfactorily account for this, then he must learn the hard way why democratic politics can be a rough old trade, and resign.

It was Mr Mandelson, another guilty man, who said that if the Dome was a flop, "we will never be forgiven". That is true, and ministers would be well advised to recognise the public's anger. While no government deserves to be judged solely on the basis of one episode, even a fiasco like this one, the Dome has done nothing to help the public to keep faith with New Labour.

React Now

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

JavaScript Developer (Angular, Web Forms, HTML5, Ext JS,CSS3)

£40000 - £45000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: JavaScript Dev...

BC2

£50000 - £70000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Business Analyst Consultant (Fina...

SAP Data Migration Consultant

competitive: Progressive Recruitment: My client, a FTSE 100 organisation are u...

Programme Support, Coms, Bristol, £300-350p/d

£300 - £350 per day + competitive: Orgtel: My client, a leading bank, is curre...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

Simon Usborne: The more you watch pro cycling, the more you understand its social complexity

Simon Usborne
 

i Editor's Letter: The final instalment of our WW1 series

Oliver Duff Oliver Duff
A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: Peace without magnanimity - the summit in a railway siding that ended the fighting

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

Peace without magnanimity - the summit in a railway siding that ended the fighting
Scottish independence: How the Commonwealth Games could swing the vote

Scottish independence: How the Commonwealth Games could swing the vote

In the final part of our series, Chris Green arrives in Glasgow - a host city struggling to keep the politics out of its celebration of sport
Out in the cold: A writer spends a night on the streets and hears the stories of the homeless

A writer spends a night on the streets

Rough sleepers - the homeless, the destitute and the drunk - exist in every city. Will Nicoll meets those whose luck has run out
Striking new stations, high-speed links and (whisper it) better services - the UK's railways are entering a new golden age

UK's railways are entering a new golden age

New stations are opening across the country and our railways appear to be entering an era not seen in Britain since the early 1950s
Conchita Wurst becomes a 'bride' on the Paris catwalk - and proves there is life after Eurovision

Conchita becomes a 'bride' on Paris catwalk

Alexander Fury salutes the Eurovision Song Contest winner's latest triumph
Pétanque World Championship in Marseilles hit by

Pétanque 'world cup' hit by death threats

This year's most acrimonious sporting event took place in France, not Brazil. How did pétanque get so passionate?
Whelks are healthy, versatile and sustainable - so why did we stop eating them in the UK?

Why did we stop eating whelks?

Whelks were the Victorian equivalent of the donor kebab and our stocks are abundant. So why do we now export them all to the Far East?
10 best women's sunglasses

In the shade: 10 best women's sunglasses

From luxury bespoke eyewear to fun festival sunnies, we round up the shades to be seen in this summer
Germany vs Argentina World Cup 2014: Lionel Messi? Javier Mascherano is key for Argentina...

World Cup final: Messi? Mascherano is key for Argentina...

No 10 is always centre of attention but Barça team-mate is just as crucial to finalists’ hopes
Siobhan-Marie O’Connor: Swimmer knows she needs Glasgow joy on road to Rio

Siobhan-Marie O’Connor: Swimmer needs Glasgow joy on road to Rio

18-year-old says this month’s Commonwealth Games are a key staging post in her career before time slips away
The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

A future Palestine state will have no borders and be an enclave within Israel, surrounded on all sides by Israeli-held territory, says Robert Fisk
A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: The German people demand an end to the fighting

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

The German people demand an end to the fighting
New play by Oscar Wilde's grandson reveals what the Irish wit said at his trials

New play reveals what Oscar Wilde said at trials

For a century, what Wilde actually said at his trials was a mystery. But the recent discovery of shorthand notes changed that. Now his grandson Merlin Holland has turned them into a play
Can scientists save the world's sea life from

Can scientists save our sea life?

By the end of the century, the only living things left in our oceans could be plankton and jellyfish. Alex Renton meets the scientists who are trying to turn the tide
Richard III, Trafalgar Studios, review: Martin Freeman gives highly intelligent performance

Richard III review

Martin Freeman’s psychotic monarch is big on mockery but wanting in malice