Yesterday was the first day of arriving Olympic athletes at Heathrow. The news channels had their reporters stationed on the Bath Road (with nice views of the runway but nowhere near the terminals) ready to give non-stop action reports on the shambles as it happened. No doubt producers had opposition politicians lined up to come into the studio to call for a judicial enquiry into the Government fiasco. Newspapers probably had their front-page headlines ready.
Then, nothing happened. Well, athletes arrived and departed for their accommodation. One coach driver got lost and some Australians missed their sailing gear but were reunited with it after less than an hour. It would take a fairly desperate journalist to make much of a story out of that.
All the political parties are responsible for the serious over-crowding at Heathrow which is due to the lack of a proper airport policy for over thirty years. Nor can the media avoid responsibility since many newspapers have been virulent in their opposition to new runways or airports. Both the Labour and Coalition governments have cut staff at the Border Agency and given it extra duties. What can you expect?
The media and opposition politicians will deny it till they are blue in the face but it is hard to escape the impression that some people actually want the Olympics to be a bit of a mess. There is a dividing line between a media and opposition that holds the government to account and one that positively wills it to lose.
Yesterday was Heathrow’s first test and it passed. Let’s hope it can do as well for the rest of the Olympics and then, maybe, the newspapers will run editorials praising the airport management and Harriet Harman will appear on Newsnight to congratulate all those responsible for making the airport work in such difficult conditions. That would be fun.