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Boris Johnson spells out the Olympics’ moral message to rioters and bankers

Category : Business

‘The more you put in, the more you get out. That is a wonderful, conservative lesson about life,’ says London mayor

The Olympics are sending out a moral message to rioters and bankers alike about the connection between effort and achievement, Boris Johnson has said.

Speaking on the first anniversary of riots that spread from Tottenham, in north London, after the killing by police of Mark Duggan, Johnson said the Olympics also demonstrated the success of conservative values. He added that he was comfortable with the “advert” for multicultural Britain the Games provided, with athletes Jessica Ennis and Mo Farah taking gold medals on Saturday.

“What the riots revealed was, I’m afraid, a deep social problem which requires lots of different solutions. There was a culture of easy gratification and entitlement and all the rest of it. That is part of the problem, and you have to deal with that,” the London mayor told BBC Radio 4′s Today programme.

Agreeing that this culture applied equally to bankers as well as rioters, he added that the medal successes at the Olympics sent out a “very clear message about efforts and achievement and what it takes to connect the two.

“[They] could not come at a better time for a country that is making a difficult psychological adjustment to a world without easy credit … where life is, I’m afraid, considerably tougher than it was before the crunch.”

Asked whether Britain’s gold-medal haul by athletes from a range of backgrounds represented a failure of rightwing nationhood, he retorted that Conservatives believed in belonging, community and shared values.

“It was back in, I think, 1997 when John Major said his vision of Britain was a nation at ease with itself … and I think that’s what we’ve got.

“What the Olympics are, are a magnificent pageant of effort and exertion, achievement and competition.”

His comments came after the Conservative MP Aidan Burley described Danny Boyle’s opening ceremony as “leftie multicultural crap”, in remarks his party leader, David Cameron, later dismissed.

Johnson said: “Kids in this country are seeing that there is a direct correlation between effort and achievement, and the more you put in, the more you get out. That is a wonderful, conservative lesson about life.”

The mayor added that one year on from the riots, £70m had been spent on regeneration in London’s most affected areas, and 67,000 apprenticeships had been created.

“The Olympics isn’t a solution in itself,” Johnson said, arguing that it was essential to look at the lives of young people: their role models, their ideals, what they want to achieve. But, he added: “I do think that sport and the Olympics do play a role.”