West Ham United speaks for London, for the nation. For we know of no spectacle so ridiculous as the British public in one of its periodic fits of football fever. Witness any World Cup. Witness David Cameron’s perplexing public support for West Ham last year, he’s an Aston Villa fan. West Ham certainly supports the government, the club donated £12,500 to the Conservative Pary last January.
Everyone loves West Ham. The club played host to a Passing Out Parade for 144 Met Police recruits on 14 July 2014. According to a spokesman,
This was only the second time the parade has been held in a public place. The break with tradition is part of the Met’s bid to open doors to its traditions and give members of the public the opportunity to take pride in their police service.
West Ham is co-owned by pornographers David Gold and David Sullivan. The club’s Vice-Chairman is bullying litigant Karren Brady of Apprentice fame, known formally as the Tory peer Baroness Brady of Knightsbridge in the City of Westminster. Back in February of last year, general election looming, all three paid up to £1,500 each to attend a fundraiser for the Conservatives at Grosvenor House Hotel.
David Sullivan, who has the distinction of a conviction for living off immoral earnings (something to do with a sauna and naked ladies offering “massage”), lent £1 million to East London thug turned Essex mansion resident David Hunt three months after he lost a libel battle with the Sunday Times.
Known as the “Long Fella” and a corrupter of Met cops, West Ham fan Hunt hit the headlines in 2010 when Michael Gillard alleged that he was the head of a “notorious crime syndicate” seeking to cash-in on a share of a £20 million government regeneration fund for the London Olympic Games. Five intelligence sources confirm a contract to kill three Stratford coppers looking too closely.
Other malign mutterings. Iain Sinclair
heard the Hackney solicitor Bill Parry-Davies describe how, after a series of mysterious fires, Dalston Lane lost its Victorian theatre and sections of Georgian terrace, to facilitate a new transport hub that would service the vital axes, south to the City, east to the Olympic Park.
The 2012 Olympics, what Jonathan Meades damned as a “festival of energy squandering architectural bling worthy of a vain third world dictatorship, a jobbery gravy train, a payday for the construction industry”. Intitial projected budget of £2.4 billion bloated to £9.29 billion. Actual cost of £8.92 billion. A triumph: “our £6.89bn overspend was actually just a £6.52 overspend, when all things are taken into account! Huzzah!” Savings made from mixing, contrary to official guidelines, radium and thorium with low-level waste in post-industrial Stratford.
Throw in the £2 billion allocated to London Organizing Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games and the total cost of London 2012 was £11 billion – equivalent to the Home Office (including the police and intelligence services) budget for 2010-11.
An exercise is state-enforced jollility. No dissent. Sinclair banned from speaking on Hackney Council property for his opposition to this corporate extravaganza, boosting his new book through six printings.
“The legacy the Games leave is as important as the sporting memories,” so said Tony Blair. Or as Sinclair puts it, “the presentation of the event was bigger than the event itself.” Rowan Moore, the Observer’s architecture critic, excoriated the
fudging, sleight of hand and compromise. The building of a Westfield shopping centre was portrayed as evidence of the Games’ regenerative power, even though it was planned before London won the Olympic bid.
Some locals are happy. Average house price inflation in Stratford and its parent borough Newham has been 60 and 43 per cent respectively since 2005, set against a wider London rise of 36 per cent. Homes near the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park have risen from £171,081 to £293,105 over the same period, a rise of 71 per cent. Though when 29 single mums at a local hostel protested against their removal to properties in Birmingham, Hastings and Manchester, Robin Wales the Mayor of Newham called them “dispicable”, “If you can’t afford to live in Newham, you can’t afford to live in Newham.” You call it gentrification, I call it social cleansing.
What of the Olympic Stadium? Converted at a cost of £272 million, of which the new owners will contribute £15 million and pay an annual rent of £2.5 million, this venue will be the new home of West Ham United.
- Ruth Bloomfield, “London house Prices: Stratford outperforms the rest of London with up to 71 per cent growth since 2005”, Evening Standard, 10 February 2016 http://www.homesandproperty.co.uk/property-news/buying/london-house-prices-stratford-outperforms-the-rest-of-the-capital-with-up-to-70-per-cent-growth-a99061.html
- Daniel Boffey, “David Cameron blames ‘Brain Fade’ for getting his football team wrong”, Guardian, 25 April 2015 http://www.theguardian.com/politics/2015/apr/25/david-cameron-blames-brain-fade-for-getting-his-football-team-wrong
- Cristina Criddle, “West Ham’s £12,500 donation to the Conservative Party raises ‘serious questions’ over ‘dubious stadium deal'”, Daily Telegraph, 27 May 2016 http://www.telegraph.co.uk/football/2016/05/27/west-hams-12500-donation-to-the-conservative-party-raises-seriou/
- Datablog, “London Olympics 2012”, Guardian, 26 July 2012 https://www.theguardian.com/sport/datablog/2012/jul/26/london-2012-olympics-money
- Carl Fellstrom, “West Ham owner’s £1m loan to crime boss”, Independent, 3 May 2014 http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/crime/west-ham-owners-1m-loan-to-crime-boss-9321418.html
- Alex Hern, “London Olympics exceed initial budget by £6.52bn”, New Statesman, 23 October 2012 http://www.newstatesman.com/economics-blog/2012/10/london-olympics-exceed-initial-budget-652bn
- Dave Hill, “London’s Olympic legacy three years on: is the city really getting what it needed”, Guardian, 23 July 2015 http://www.theguardian.com/cities/davehillblog/2015/jul/23/london-olympic-legacy-three-years-on-2012-games
- Mark Killick, The Sultan of Sleaze: The Story of David Sullivan’s Sex and Media Empire (Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1994)
- Jonathan Meades, Museum without Walls (London: Unbound, 2013)
- Rowan Moore, Slow Burn City: London in the Twenty-First Century (London: Picador, 2016)
- Panorama, “Cops, Criminals, Corruption: The Inside Story”, broadcast 29 February 2016
- Retired and Angry, “The Evidence I Shall Give Shall be the Bollox, the Whole Bollox and Nothing but the Bollox”, 16 July 2014 https://retiredandangry.wordpress.com/2014/07/16/the-evidence-i-shall-give-shall-be-the-bollox-the-whole-bollox-and-nothing-but-the-bollox/
- Iain Sinclair, Ghost Milk: Calling Time on the Grand Project (London: Hamish Hamilton, 2011)
- John Stevens, “PM Parties with the Kings (and Queens) of Sleaze”, Daily Mail, 10 February 2015 http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2946556/Raising-cash-eyebrows-Glittering-1-500-head-Tory-fundraiser-attracts-guests-PM-sex-shop-queen.html