Thursday, February 14, 2008

Should China have been given the Olympics?

-----Question Time Review----

Steven Spielberg certainly seems to have concentrated minds. My wife and I have long been expressing our incredulity that China could have been awarded the Olympic Games, but until now it has seemed like we were talking only to eachother. Tonight's BBC Question Time demonstrated otherwise.

The programme was dominated by Melanie Phillips - scarcely surprising as she was the biggest brain as well as the biggest mouth on view. It's a sign of age, I suppose, but I find myself agreeing with her on more and more issues these days, not least on her view that awarding the Games to Beijing was a disgrace, and that the Archbishop of Canterbury is not fit for office. The government representative, Housing Minister Caroline Flint may be better-looking than Phillips, but her leaden asnwers to most of the questions showed she's an intellectual pygmy by comparison. In fact the opposition spokesman, Baroness Warsi, made a far better fist of the "constructive engagement" argument in relation to the Chinese, though she seemed to have little to say for the remainder of the programme.

Of the other panellists, Clive James was amusing in a desultory sort of way, though it was scarcely the cutting-edge humour we might have expected from him a decade ago, and Stephen Lowe, Bishop of Hulme, was clearly there only to put the case for Dr Williams - not the most straghtforward of tasks.

Having given it a fair amount of thought, I just don't buy Williams' argument that he has been misrepresented by the media. As Phillips rightly pointed out, his original comments amounted, in terms, to the advocacy of a parallel system of law to which Moslems could choose to give their loyalty. I have long believed Rowan Williams to be too politically naive to lead the Church of England effectively, but this was not mere naivety, it was wrongheadedness. It's time to bring on Sentamu.

free web site hit counter


Anonymous said...

I am very surprised that China was awarded the Olympics as well, but kicking up a fuss several years later seems like a waste of everyone's time.

Political pressure usually bounces straight back off China.

Anonymous said...

On Sharia/Williams.

A parallel system already exists. The question (and Williams is the first to raise it) is what to do about it.

There are three options:

a. Ignore the phenomenon and hope that it goes away, or at least doesn't cause any trouble.
b. Attempt to suppress it, by persuasion and/or coercion.
c. Co-opt it in order to know and control it.

Any of these may turn out to be the right answer, but it is not self-evidently the case that (c) is "wrong-headed". It's amusing that the criticism assumes it's a liberal and naïf option (tho' I grant that it may be in Williams' case): words like "appeasement" are bandied about. Yet it is precisely the option that a Machiavellian cynic would advocate, in order to corrupt a potential threat from within: it's what the Soviets did with the Russian Orthodox Church.

Anonymous said...

I was in the audience last night and it is interesting how the glare of the lights and the lens of the camera can change the dynamic of the audience. In the practice debate, held an hour before in order to test mics and warm up the audience, we had probably the most reasoned and passionate debate. Once the opening credits rolled I felt the audience acquiesced to the forthright views of the panel.

Still very enjoyable experience and as much as it pains me to say I felt that Melanie Phillips was the most convincing and forthright in her views.

I'll be blogging about the experience later today.

Anonymous said...

I don't understand why China shouldn't have been given the games. It's a double edged sword of acceptance and putting ones self fully in the frame. The Olympics have to just be about sport, and while the athletes taking part should of course be able to have their political views hear, the event itself really shouldn't be deprived from areas just because of a singular western view of poor form.

skipper said...

Apart for a gift for publicity stunts, what obvious claim does Sentamu have to be considered for the top job?

Cyberleader said...

Well, the Chinese might ask, why is the UK fit to host the 2012 olympics?

We've been complicit in the biggest human rights disaster for decades in Iraq.

The Olympics should just be given to Greece on a permanent basis.

Paul Linford said...


He believes in the Christian Gospel, for a start. I'm really not sure Williams actually does.

Sentamu may not have as large a brain as Williams, he is a much more charismatic leader, and the church needs leadership, not agonised intellectualising.

I would have chosen Nazir-Ali in 2002 but his time has probably passed now, while the other main contender, Liverpool's James Jones, has gone over to the liberal wing.

Unknown said...


May I suggest a link related to the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games?

Our site:

Title: Beijing Olympics

Please let me know if you want a link back.
Many thanks for your reply.

Best Regards,