What will be the political legacy of London 2012?
If the government hoped national pride generated by the Olympics would give them a poll boost, the sight of David Cameron being booed by the crowd at a Team GB boxing bout this week will have put things in perspective.
The bonhomie swirling round is probably one that transcends politics; it will make people feel proud to be British, proud to have a Queen, perhaps – but not a prime minister. There may be a short period of grace for the government, however, and ministers are planning to use it to try to re-re-launch their agenda. The bid will involve a reshuffle which will likely take place in the week beginning September 3. There will also be a 'mid-term review' of the coalition agreement and further measures aimed at boosting the economy.
The reshuffle is likely to see a couple of old hands – leader of the House Sir George Young and possibly justice secretary Ken Clarke, moved on to make space for new blood. But huge sweeping changes are unlikely due to the constrictions of negotiating a reshuffle in coalition, which may well dull the freshness of a shake up. Meanwhile Mr Cameron has already said the mid-term review is not a 'coalition agreement mark II'. Instead it will set out achievements and future goals.
The government is then restricted by public finances and its economic principles, which preclude a clunking fiscal stimulus.
Instead it will stick to policies aimed at keeping interest rates low and creating the conditions for growth. Those policies are yet to deliver though ministers are still hoping they will.
But a desire to see any boost rising off the back of the Olympic feel-good factor would be over-optimistic. This week the Bank of England downgraded UK growth forecasts for 2012 to 0pc from 0.8pc three months ago. Meanwhile, the resignation of Louise Mensch means a by-election in a seat where the Tories hold a slim majority.
Olympic legacy gains like an increase in school sports or a reduction in obesity take time to emerge and do not often get credited to individual politicians. So as the London 2012 closing ceremony dies down, people will begin to remember the country is in the middle of a recession and the government's problems will continue; its only comfort perhaps is that the race to the election in 2015 is a marathon and not a sprint.
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