Parliamentary Sketch – Securing a legacy

Posted on: 23rd August 2012

Monsoonal summer gave us temporary respite. The sun beamed down on the warm celebrations of a bumper crowd who came out in their thousands to proudly ‘Welcome Home’ our Olympic victor, Helen Glover, to the streets of Penzance and Newlyn.

The moment now passed, the memories will live on to encourage and bolster the resolve of a resilient community while seeking to overcome challenging times.

It was a privilege to be given the opportunity to reflect on the legacy of Helen’s phenomenal success. Apart from hoping that she will go on to continued and perhaps even greater success, I was reminded of Helen’s words in interview shortly after that historic race. She said that “If I can do it, then anyone can”.

Of course that’s not, strictly speaking, true. It’s evident that Helen’s fitness, agility and determination to succeed is exceptional. Not everyone can replicate that. But she’s right that there are probably many more young people who might prosper on the fields of sport if they were given the opportunity, backing and facilities to develop their latent talents.

It has always been my view, both during my own upbringing here in west Cornwall and since, that local young people have at least as much potential talent to succeed – even, like Helen, to be the very best in the World – as anywhere else. It’s just that the obstacles are often greater. Not just because we are hundreds of miles away from the nearest Olympic size/standard rowing, swimming, cycling, gymnastics, athletics, other facilities, but that world class backing and coaching support is not as accessible here as elsewhere.

So our Olympic legacy should be to seek out further avenues to help those young athletes and sports people to develop their talents to allow them too to fulfil their true potential. A challenge for the political classes…

But there’s another Olympic legacy I’m seeking to halt! The legislation passed to permit a temporary extension of Sunday retail opening hours was only passed by MPs because we believed that this would be a genuinely temporary measure.

I am a strong supporter of the Keep Sunday Special campaign. And I will strongly resist the apparent plans of some on the Conservative benches to keep these extended large store opening hours beyond the conclusion of the Paralympic Games.

The world would become a much less tolerable place if our week became a relentless grind of indistinguishable days. Those who sacrifice their Sundays to keep a limited skeleton of retail and other services going is much appreciated, but families deserve respite. We all need a day each week that is not like all the others. A time to relax, reflect, recreate, contemplate and of course worship.

So you will find me selective in my fight to secure a true legacy from the Olympic Games.

21st August 2012