As we ramp up to Friday’s Olympic Opening Ceremony, the eyes of the world are turning towards London. So we thought it was high time to give Truth Central London’s on-the-ground view of how life in an Olympics’ poised city feels.
In just the last week anticipation has built swiftly, as preparations move from behind the borders of the Olympic Park, and physical signs that the biggest sports event in the world is about to hit begin sweep across the city. New traffic systems, Olympic lanes and barriers to control human traffic have sprouted up across the capital. We have completed our venues – early and to cost; we have built what looks like our best team of athletes ever – which have home advantage; and, in a spectacularly un-London-like turn of events, the sun is shining. It all seems to be coming together – the stage is set for London’s moment.
While we will have to wait a few weeks for the final analysis, it seems churlish to predict anything other than a significant “Olympic lift” to the mood of Londoners. While the longevity of this Olympic effect is a matter for debate – what is not is that the boost in spirits we will see from the Games fits with a broader shift in the mood of Britain towards the positive, which has been developing over the past 18 months. The Olympics may accelerate this brightening of the nation’s spirits – but it certainly did not start it.
At Truth Central London we have been tracking the mood of our nation for the past five years in our annual ‘Moody Britain’ reports. In that time, as GDP growth forecasts have been revised ever downwards, we have seen Briton’s modify their expectations of economic wellbeing. Today only a quarter of them (us) believe they will be better off financially in the next year – the lowest figure since the day of white-hot panic following the collapse of Lehman Brothers in late 2008. People think UK Inc. will recover, but not until 2018– we’re in for the long haul here.
However, despite believing we are slap bang in the middle of the worst economic depression since the Great one – 2012 has seen Britain perk up. When asked which adjectives they would use to describe the mood of the nation – ‘uncertain’, ‘hopeful’, ‘disappointed’, ‘angry’, ‘excited’, ‘indifferent’ and so on – in 2012 fewer people chose negative words, and more people chose positive words than at any time in the past five years – pre-recession heyday included.
The reasons for this shift are many and varied. Firstly, while life in Britain in the last year has had its challenges, in comparison to other countries experiencing civil war, natural disaster and economic implosion. More importantly however, after four years of gloom and uncertainty British people have just had enough of feeling down. They’re ready to try and find the fun in life again. Not in the credit-card melting way we used to enjoy ourselves, but simply by rejecting worry and attempting to find joy in our family, friends and local communities.
Just as with the Olympic effect, it is too early to say whether this wider revival will be a wave that rises and dies back, or one we can catch and push forwards. Moody Britain 2012 investigates the factors driving this change, and looks at how we can overcome the potential barriers to turning revival into renaissance. We will be posting the full report in a few weeks – stay tuned.