London Olympics exceed initial budget by £6.52bn

When is "under budget" not "under budget"?

BBC News, 1 February 2007:

How much will the Olympics really cost?

The overall budget for the London Olympics submitted in the bid to the International Olympic Committee was £2.4bn.

The figure came from a study carried out by construction company Arup in May 2002. It predicted the cost of the Games to be £1.8 billion.

The government then commissioned another report in 2004 carried out by accountants PriceWaterhouseCooper, who put the figure closer to £3.2bn. The government settled for a compromise figure of £2.4bn.

BBC News, 23 October 2012:

London 2012: Olympics and Paralympics £377m under budget

The cost of the London Olympics and Paralympics will be £377m less than expected, according to the Government.

The combined budget for the two events was £9.29bn, but the projected cost is £8.92bn.

Savings came from a drop in security, transport and construction expenses.

In other words, "Our £6.89bn overspend was actually just a £6.52bn overspend when all things are taken into account! Huzzah!"

The latest BBC News story doesn't even mention the original estimates at all, although an earlier news story - from July - at least featured Hugh Robinson evading the question: 

Addressing the original bid budget of £2.4bn, Sports Minister Hugh Robertson said there was a "recognition right from the word go that figure would have to change dramatically on the basis of delivering the Games".

We have always been at war with Eastasia.

Photograph: Getty Images

Alex Hern is a technology reporter for the Guardian. He was formerly staff writer at the New Statesman. You should follow Alex on Twitter.

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No, David Cameron’s speech was not “left wing”

Come on, guys.

There is a strange journalistic phenomenon that occurs when a party leader makes a speech. It is a blend of groupthink, relief, utter certainty, and online backslapping. It happened particularly quickly after David Cameron’s speech to Tory party conference today. A few pundits decided that – because he mentioned, like, diversity and social mobility – this was a centre-left speech. A leftwing speech, even. Or at least a clear grab for the liberal centre ground. And so that’s what everyone now believes. The analysis is decided. The commentary is written. Thank God for that.

Really? It’s quite easy, even as one of those nasty, wicked Tories, to mention that you actually don’t much like racism, and point out that you’d quite like poor children to get jobs, without moving onto Labour's "territory". Which normal person is in favour of discriminating against someone on the basis of race, or blocking opportunity on the basis of class? Of course he’s against that. He’s a politician operating in a liberal democracy. And this isn’t Ukip conference.

Looking at the whole package, it was actually quite a rightwing speech. It was a paean to defence – championing drones, protecting Britain from the evils of the world, and getting all excited about “launching the biggest aircraft carriers in our history”.

It was a festival of flagwaving guff about the British “character”, a celebration of shoehorning our history chronologically onto the curriculum, looking towards a “Greater Britain”, asking for more “national pride”. There was even a Bake Off pun.

He also deployed the illiberal device of inculcating a divide-and-rule fear of the “shadow of extremism – hanging over every single one of us”, informing us that children in UK madrassas are having their “heads filled with poison and their hearts filled with hate”, and saying Britain shouldn’t be “overwhelmed” with refugees, before quickly changing the subject to ousting Assad. How unashamedly centrist, of you, Mr Prime Minister.

Benefit cuts and a reduction of tax credits will mean the Prime Minister’s enthusiasm for “equality of opportunity, as opposed to equality of outcome” will be just that – with the outcome pretty bleak for those who end up losing any opportunity that comes with state support. And his excitement about diversity in his cabinet rings a little hollow the day following a tubthumping anti-immigration speech from his Home Secretary.

If this year's Tory conference wins the party votes, it’ll be because of its conservative commitment – not lefty love bombing.

Anoosh Chakelian is deputy web editor at the New Statesman.