London Olympics 2012: here’s 20 jolly good reasons to feel cheerful about the Games

5. We have just stunned the world with what was the best opening ceremony ever produced – and by quite a margin. Danny Boyle’s filmic mixture of Blake, Dickens, Tolkien, JK Rowling etc etc has confirmed London’s status as the global capital of art and culture. Right-wing critics should be reassured that the meaning of the Mary Poppins-Dementors clash has been widely misunderstood. I am told by one figure close to proceedings that the bellicose nanny figure was intended by Danny Boyle to stand for Mrs Thatcher in her struggles with the NUM and other militant trade unionists. So that’s all right, then, eh! In any case, the Queen has made her first cinematic appearance – in the Bond movie segment – and deepened the admiration in which she is held in Britain and around the world. James Bond and the Monarchy – not to mention The Eton Boating Song… How can anyone call that Lefty propaganda?

6. We certainly didn’t spend the Beijing-style sums on fireworks – since the Chinese blew roughly the same amount as the British defence budget – but we unquestionably had the same global éclat.

7. The president of the International Olympic Committee, Jacques Rogge, made a truly excellent speech, in which he paid tribute to the role of Britain in either inventing or codifying the sports we celebrate at the Olympics. Only a small proportion of his speech was in French.

8. Jeremy Hunt has introduced a new sport to the Games, to go with the discus, shot-put, javelin. It is bell-whanging. He shows his class on YouTube. The rules have yet to be codified – there is still a dispute about whether you get extra points for hitting a spectator – but you can be sure they will be codified in London.

9. Unlike some other Olympic cities I could mention, the London venues were built on time and under budget – and represent a great global calling card for British construction and engineering. The athletes’ village is being hailed by all who bunk up there – including Tessa Jowell, who takes her duties as deputy mayor of the village so seriously that she actually pernoctates in the village, sharing the life of the young men and women on whom we pin our hopes.

10. The traffic in London has not – touch wood – been badly affected by the Games, or certainly not as badly as some people were predicting. As things stand, there have been plenty of times when we have been able to allow all drivers to use the Games Lanes – though you should always check the signs at the side of the road.

11. The Tube has performed pretty well so far.

12. Buses are running more or less to time.

13. Tens of thousands of people are attending the BT Live Sites in Hyde Park, Victoria Park and elsewhere. They are being treated to sensational rock and pop acts, as well as zipwires, zorbing (which involves large plastic balls) and other entertainments of all kinds: hog-roasts, tumblers, chaps painted silver and making jerky movements – and it is almost all FREE!

14. The Emirates Airline cable car from the North Greenwich Arena (O2) to the Excel, both Olympic venues, carried a record 26,000 people on Saturday. It is London’s newest and most successful tourist attraction, and was built to time and to budget by TfL, and very largely with sponsorship cash. We are still awaiting a visit from the great man after whom the project was named – Vince Cable himself.

15. The military are doing a fantastic job. Colossal numbers of people are being moved through the search areas and into the park – speedily, efficiently, and with great friendliness. They are working well with the excellent G4S staff. They are showing leadership and generally are entrenching the affection with which the Armed Services are regarded. In fact, the whole thing looks like a brilliant MoD anti-cuts manoeuvre.

16. The Olympics are proving to be a boost to tattoo parlours. Plenty of people seem to want their thighs inscribed with “Oylimpics 2012” and other ineradicable mis-spellings.

17. No single athlete was able to swank about having the honour of lighting the cauldron, since that went to a collection of young athletes. This was a typically brilliant and diplomatic decision by Seb Coe.

18. In the heart of the Olympic Park there are riparian meadows of wildflowers whose colour and glory are heart-breaking. There are cornflowers and vipers bugloss and rare and delicate orchids that are being neither trampled nor picked – but simply admired, by vast crowds, as evidence of our national genius for gardening.

19. As I write these words there are semi-naked women playing beach volleyball in the middle of the Horse Guards Parade immortalised by Canaletto. They are glistening like wet otters and the water is plashing off the brims of the spectators’ sou’westers. The whole thing is magnificent and bonkers.

20. Everywhere I go I see volunteers who are caught up in the excitement of the biggest thing this city has done in our lifetimes. They are happy and proud – and so, by the way, are all the spectators I have met so far.

Here’s 20 jolly good reasons to feel cheerful about the Games

5. We have just stunned the world with what was the best opening ceremony ever produced – and by quite a margin. Danny Boyle’s filmic mixture of Blake, Dickens, Tolkien, JK Rowling etc etc has confirmed London’s status as the global capital of art and culture. Right-wing critics should be reassured that the meaning of the Mary Poppins-Dementors clash has been widely misunderstood. I am told by one figure close to proceedings that the bellicose nanny figure was intended by Danny Boyle to stand for Mrs Thatcher in her struggles with the NUM and other militant trade unionists. So that’s all right, then, eh! In any case, the Queen has made her first cinematic appearance – in the Bond movie segment – and deepened the admiration in which she is held in Britain and around the world. James Bond and the Monarchy – not to mention The Eton Boating Song… How can anyone call that Lefty propaganda?

6. We certainly didn’t spend the Beijing-style sums on fireworks – since the Chinese blew roughly the same amount as the British defence budget – but we unquestionably had the same global éclat.

7. The president of the International Olympic Committee, Jacques Rogge, made a truly excellent speech, in which he paid tribute to the role of Britain in either inventing or codifying the sports we celebrate at the Olympics. Only a small proportion of his speech was in French.

8. Jeremy Hunt has introduced a new sport to the Games, to go with the discus, shot-put, javelin. It is bell-whanging. He shows his class on YouTube. The rules have yet to be codified – there is still a dispute about whether you get extra points for hitting a spectator – but you can be sure they will be codified in London.

9. Unlike some other Olympic cities I could mention, the London venues were built on time and under budget – and represent a great global calling card for British construction and engineering. The athletes’ village is being hailed by all who bunk up there – including Tessa Jowell, who takes her duties as deputy mayor of the village so seriously that she actually pernoctates in the village, sharing the life of the young men and women on whom we pin our hopes.

10. The traffic in London has not – touch wood – been badly affected by the Games, or certainly not as badly as some people were predicting. As things stand, there have been plenty of times when we have been able to allow all drivers to use the Games Lanes – though you should always check the signs at the side of the road.

11. The Tube has performed pretty well so far.

12. Buses are running more or less to time.

13. Tens of thousands of people are attending the BT Live Sites in Hyde Park, Victoria Park and elsewhere. They are being treated to sensational rock and pop acts, as well as zipwires, zorbing (which involves large plastic balls) and other entertainments of all kinds: hog-roasts, tumblers, chaps painted silver and making jerky movements – and it is almost all FREE!

14. The Emirates Airline cable car from the North Greenwich Arena (O2) to the Excel, both Olympic venues, carried a record 26,000 people on Saturday. It is London’s newest and most successful tourist attraction, and was built to time and to budget by TfL, and very largely with sponsorship cash. We are still awaiting a visit from the great man after whom the project was named – Vince Cable himself.

15. The military are doing a fantastic job. Colossal numbers of people are being moved through the search areas and into the park – speedily, efficiently, and with great friendliness. They are working well with the excellent G4S staff. They are showing leadership and generally are entrenching the affection with which the Armed Services are regarded. In fact, the whole thing looks like a brilliant MoD anti-cuts manoeuvre.

16. The Olympics are proving to be a boost to tattoo parlours. Plenty of people seem to want their thighs inscribed with “Oylimpics 2012” and other ineradicable mis-spellings.

17. No single athlete was able to swank about having the honour of lighting the cauldron, since that went to a collection of young athletes. This was a typically brilliant and diplomatic decision by Seb Coe.

18. In the heart of the Olympic Park there are riparian meadows of wildflowers whose colour and glory are heart-breaking. There are cornflowers and vipers bugloss and rare and delicate orchids that are being neither trampled nor picked – but simply admired, by vast crowds, as evidence of our national genius for gardening.

19. As I write these words there are semi-naked women playing beach volleyball in the middle of the Horse Guards Parade immortalised by Canaletto. They are glistening like wet otters and the water is plashing off the brims of the spectators’ sou’westers. The whole thing is magnificent and bonkers.

20. Everywhere I go I see volunteers who are caught up in the excitement of the biggest thing this city has done in our lifetimes. They are happy and proud – and so, by the way, are all the spectators I have met so far.

London 2012 Olympics: The Queen loved her acting debut, says Boris Johnson

Mr Johnson was talking after escorting the Queen on a tour of the Olympic Park, where Her Majesty visited Team GB athletes.

Fresh from her starring role alongside James Bond actor Daniel Craig in last night's opening ceremony, the Queen was shown around the British section of the athletes' village as well as the Orbit Tower.

Of the opening ceremony cameo, where the Queen seemingly made a dramatic entrance to the Olympic stadium by parachute along with 007, the London Mayor said Her Majesty was interested to know whether viewers had found the short video funny.

An actor dressed as Queen Elizabeth II parachutes into the stadium during the opening ceremony of the London 2012 Olympic Games AFP

"She was thrilled to have been given her first film role and she was very keen to know whether people had been amused by it," Mr Johnson said.

"Whether she will get an Oscar I don't know, but she really enjoyed it."

Olympics: Boris Johnson becomes national treasure as he brings ping pong home

“I say this respectfully to our Chinese hosts who have excelled so magnificently at ping pong: ping pong was invented on the dining tables of England in the 19th century. It was. And it was called wiff waff.

“And there I think you have the essential difference between us and the rest of the world.

“Other nations – the French – looked at a dining table and saw an opportunity to have dinner.

“We looked at a dining table and saw an opportunity to play whiff whaff.

“And that is why that is why London is the sporting capital of the world. And I say to the Chinese, and I say to the world: ping pong is coming home!”

“You’ve got to love him,” we journalists said to each other, “but what on earth is the rest of the world going to make of Boris?”

Now that ping pong has come home, along with football, sailing, cycling, boxing and 25 other sports, we now know the answer to that question: the rest of the world apparently loves Boris too.

Tonight he is expected to play a leading role in the Olympics Opening Ceremony, before a crowd hundreds of times larger than that at London House and a TV audience expected to approach a billion.

It marks the culmination of an astonishing rise for the Mayor (and Telegraph columnist) from Britain's private joke to a global superstar.

The Olympics come just a few weeks after Mr Johnson took New York by storm, and where he was forced to adapt his standard response to questions about his ambition to become prime minister.

Asked by TV host David Letterman if he fancied the US presidency (having been born in the Big Apple he is eligible for the job) he replied “About as likely as being reincarnated as an olive – or being blinded by a champagne cork.”

Assuming Jeremy Hunt isn’t the one wielding the champagne bottle, Mr Johnson’s prospects for becoming prime minister seem brighter than ever.

Because as much as the world has caught Boris-fever, Britain seems to have terminal case.

His appearance in Hyde Park last night with its amusing retort to Mitt Romney – “He wants to know whether we’re ready. Are we ready?” - was greeted with such roars of approval that the event came to resemble a Nuremberg rally.

Should the Games prove a success – and at this stage in proceedings suggesting otherwise is tantamount to treason (hello Mr Romney) – it will be thanks to the Mayor as much as anyone. You can’t buy PR like that.

The same can not be said of Mr Johnson’s hitherto rivals for the throne.

Thanks to his troubles with News International, Mr Hunt’s career was in freefall even before he starting braining people with hand bells.

And the repercussions from George Osborne’s omnishambles budget continue to be felt, with even loyal Tories muttering about him being removed from the Treasury following this week’s dire GDP figures.

And above it all, strides the Mayor, a quote-producing, dishevelled national joke turned national treasure. He even has a new haircut.

Ping pong has come home. And so has Boris.

London 2012 Olympics: Boris delights crowd at Hyde Park torch relay party

At the Hyde Park concert which welcomed the torch to its final Olympic cauldron before the Opening Ceremony, the Mayor of London rallied the crowd's excitement for the Games.

"The excitement is growing so much I think the Geiger counter of Olympo-mania is going to go zoink off the scale," Mr Johnson said to cheers from the crowd.

He added: "I hear there's a guy called Mitt Romney who wants to know whether we're ready. He wants to know whether we're ready. Are we ready? Are we ready? Yes we are!"

The US Republican presidential candidate had questioned London's preparations for the Olympics in an interview with NBC, but on his visit to the city he retracted his statement and said that the Games would be a success.

The Olympic torch will travel through London to the Olympic Stadium for this evening's Opening Ceremony.

Tour de France: True athletes like Bradley Wiggins can inspire us to a brighter future

It is all too hilariously accurate. We Olympic committee types really do sit around and talk about “legacy”, “sustainability”, “diversity”, “inclusivity” and “multiculturality”, and contained within those woolly abstracts are of course many good things. But when the Games begin this week they won’t be remotely inclusive — not on the track, not where it counts. They will be elitist, ruthlessly and dazzlingly elitist. They won’t be diverse, not really. They will be an endless parade of a fraction of the top one percent of the most physically gifted human beings on earth. If you want the antithesis of the “all-must-have-prizes” culture, this is it. You either win gold, silver or bronze — or else you are an also-ran.

But the important point about the Olympians is not just that they have exceptional bio-mechanical equipment. It’s not just the paddle-shaped hands of the swimmers or the muscle twitch of the sprinters. What makes the sport so compelling is that it is not enough to have a well-made skeleton or musculature. It is all in the heart, or all in the mind. It is a palpable lesson in human achievement and effort. It’s about overcoming pain, and bouncing back from defeat. It’s about endlessly denying yourself some elementary pleasure, like a Mars Bar or a lie-in or a pint of beer, because you hope for some greater long term reward.

Listen to this paper’s wonderful online interviews with great Olympic gold medallists, and how they put in their best performance. You can hear the extraordinary 400-metre hurdler Ed Moses explain his system of measuring 13 paces between each hurdle, and running eight inches from the inside track. Sir Steve Redgrave discusses the exact division of a 2,000-metre race into segments, and the techniques of psychological self-management that are necessary to deal with the lung-bursting agony of the final push. Denise Lewis tells how she threw the javelin in Athens with a broken foot. Seb Coe reveals his trick for beating Steve Cram in Los Angeles (the secret was to stay in front of him all the way round).

As you listen, you realise that these performances were the result not just of physical genius, but also of colossal intellectual and emotional effort — years of self-discipline. The Olympics, in other words, is about character. It’s about the will. Of course, as Baron de Coubertin was at pains to point out, it is not all about winning. But if you want to win, then you need to work. That is the basic message of the Olympics.

Young people in this country are going to see it demonstrated, before their eyes, on the grandest possible stage and in the most vivid and exciting way. Of course you need all sorts of things to have a chance of success. You need opportunity. You need facilities — and it is one of the scandals of our time that both Labour and Tory governments allowed the playing fields to be sold. You need people to take an interest in you and coach you. But you also need to understand that success – in any field – means drive, and the will to win, and the resolve to do things that are dull, repetitive, uncool and very often painful and exhausting.

Yes, of course the Olympics is about legacy, sustainability, diversity, inclusivity, posterity and multiculturality. But it is really about competition between human beings; the glory of winning, the pathos of losing, and the toil that can make the difference. That is the grand moral of the Games, and a very good one, too. It is also the key to economic growth.

True athletes like Bradley Wiggins can inspire us to a brighter future

It is all too hilariously accurate. We Olympic committee types really do sit around and talk about “legacy”, “sustainability”, “diversity”, “inclusivity” and “multiculturality”, and contained within those woolly abstracts are of course many good things. But when the Games begin this week they won’t be remotely inclusive — not on the track, not where it counts. They will be elitist, ruthlessly and dazzlingly elitist. They won’t be diverse, not really. They will be an endless parade of a fraction of the top one percent of the most physically gifted human beings on earth. If you want the antithesis of the “all-must-have-prizes” culture, this is it. You either win gold, silver or bronze — or else you are an also-ran.

But the important point about the Olympians is not just that they have exceptional bio-mechanical equipment. It’s not just the paddle-shaped hands of the swimmers or the muscle twitch of the sprinters. What makes the sport so compelling is that it is not enough to have a well-made skeleton or musculature. It is all in the heart, or all in the mind. It is a palpable lesson in human achievement and effort. It’s about overcoming pain, and bouncing back from defeat. It’s about endlessly denying yourself some elementary pleasure, like a Mars Bar or a lie-in or a pint of beer, because you hope for some greater long term reward.

Listen to this paper’s wonderful online interviews with great Olympic gold medallists, and how they put in their best performance. You can hear the extraordinary 400-metre hurdler Ed Moses explain his system of measuring 13 paces between each hurdle, and running eight inches from the inside track. Sir Steve Redgrave discusses the exact division of a 2,000-metre race into segments, and the techniques of psychological self-management that are necessary to deal with the lung-bursting agony of the final push. Denise Lewis tells how she threw the javelin in Athens with a broken foot. Seb Coe reveals his trick for beating Steve Cram in Los Angeles (the secret was to stay in front of him all the way round).

As you listen, you realise that these performances were the result not just of physical genius, but also of colossal intellectual and emotional effort — years of self-discipline. The Olympics, in other words, is about character. It’s about the will. Of course, as Baron de Coubertin was at pains to point out, it is not all about winning. But if you want to win, then you need to work. That is the basic message of the Olympics.

Young people in this country are going to see it demonstrated, before their eyes, on the grandest possible stage and in the most vivid and exciting way. Of course you need all sorts of things to have a chance of success. You need opportunity. You need facilities — and it is one of the scandals of our time that both Labour and Tory governments allowed the playing fields to be sold. You need people to take an interest in you and coach you. But you also need to understand that success – in any field – means drive, and the will to win, and the resolve to do things that are dull, repetitive, uncool and very often painful and exhausting.

Yes, of course the Olympics is about legacy, sustainability, diversity, inclusivity, posterity and multiculturality. But it is really about competition between human beings; the glory of winning, the pathos of losing, and the toil that can make the difference. That is the grand moral of the Games, and a very good one, too. It is also the key to economic growth.

London 2012 Olympics: ‘We’ve got better restaurants than Paris and less rain than Rome’, says Boris Johnson

The Mayor of London described London's triumphs and advantages in a speech outlining further details of the Olympic torch relay in London, which comes to the capital on July 20.

"I do hope that you will fan out around London and you will discover a city that has twice as many bookshops as New York, more Michelin starred restaurants than Paris and it rains more in Rome.

"I hope you will see what our great city has to offer," Mr Johnson said.

It was revealed that the torch will abseil down the Tower of London and that the mother of Stephen Lawrence, Doreen, and Olympian Daley Thompson will be torchbearers during its tour of London.

To avoid the Olympic weather forecast, please look away now

Maybe it was time to call upon the sun god Ra, or Phoebus Apollo, or Sol Victrix, or whatever name he now goes by, and lift our hands in chanting entreaty. Come on, O thou fiery spirit that animates the world. Come on out from wherever you are hiding. Shine the light of your countenance upon us, you miserable blighter. Extend thy beams, so reverend and strong, and dry the water from our upturned cheeks. Flatter the mountain tops with your sovereign eye, vaporise the thunderheads, and give us all a break.

For the sake of completeness, and so that no one can later accuse me of concealing the bad news (what did he know about the weather, and when did he know it?), I should say that Piers has a general thesis that the current phase of grim weather – cold, snowy winters and wet summers – is just the prelude to something yet more bracing. We are heading, he says, for a mini Ice Age. These wet Julys and frosty Januaries are part of the opening drum roll of a cold period that will set in over the next decades.

Some say it will be upon us by 2045, some say by 2030. Looking at the pattern of the last few years, Piers Corbyn now thinks it could be sooner than that. He does not say that sabretooth tigers will roam the streets of Newcastle. He does not say that the Thames will freeze at London Bridge and that we will have fairs on the ice – unlikely, given how fast the river flows these days. But he does believe that it will get nippier, and that we will see the kind of cold period last experienced in the late 17th century and early 18th century.

That is the long-range forecast; and as for the next few days – well, do you want me to tell you what the short-term forecast is? Do you really want to know what the augur Corbyn foresees for the Opening Ceremony of the Olympic Games? Brace yourselves. “We’re very confident that there will be a lot of rain – a deluge, really – during the entire Olympic period, and we are 80 per cent sure that the Opening Ceremony itself will feature heavy rain, including hail and thunder.”

Well, my friends, I have two rejoinders. The first is that I don’t necessarily agree. Piers may be wrong. As I look out of my window this very moment, I can see beautiful blue sky and high, fleecy clouds – a perfect day. I have watched the flight of the birds, and they seem perfectly auspicious to me (a pair of pigeons, obviously much in love, occupying the right hand portion of the sky). Over the course of lunch I will examine the entrails of my Cornish pasty, but I can already tell you the results of the extispicy. Yes, there will be some greyish turnip, presaging more cloud; but also bright yellow swede, indicating more glorious sunshine.

In other words, it is going to be a classic English late July; and even if Corbyn is right in every particular – even if we can expect some more moisture – is that the end of the world? We have just staged a flawless Wimbledon; huge crowds are turning out for the torch relay, whatever the weather, and all enjoying themselves; the parks are heaving with joyous concerts, rain or shine. And even if we are about to enter a little Ice Age, the last ones didn’t seem to impede Britain’s rise to a position of global dominance.

Blow, winds and crack your cheeks. Blow, you cataracts and hurricanoes, spout till you have drenched our country yet again. We don’t give a monkey’s. We like a spot of precipitation. It intensifies the pleasure of the sun. Made us what we are. And by the way, it still rains more in Rome than it does in London.

Stop bashing the bankers – we have no future without them

So let me give you some unadulterated good news about the British economy. It is a story of enterprise and dynamism and young thrusters making their dreams come true. I am talking about a cutting-edge sector that is already employing tens of thousands of people and that has scope to take on any young kid who likes fiddling with an iPhone, regardless of academic qualifications – and we have quite a few of them these days.

Yes, folks, we are looking at the world of apps, those lovely little icons you can activate by just brushing the lustrous stay-clean screen of your gizmo, so that you can spend the rest of the day in a happy melon-slicing narcosis. London is at the absolute shiny needle-tip of global progress, as I can testify, because I have just been round a new Wayra academy in Fitzrovia.

It is a special hub, an incubator for start-ups, and it is like a throbbing nuclear pile of competitive talent. It is positively Californian in its youth, energy, brightly coloured bean bags and breakout romper rooms with very good coffee. They are coming up with apps that help you unleash your artistic urges; apps for establishing the sexual preferences of everyone in the vicinity; apps for helping blind people cross the road. One team had come up with a way of monitoring the language of the entire output of Twitter and other social networks, so that they could tell where people were generally happy and where they were generally angry (they seemed to be pretty cheesed off in Islington that morning, but cheerful in Chelsea).

As we talked, my mind raced, and I tried to show that I could invent some apps of my own. How about Pol-U-Swerve, so that you can stay in the bath if a canvassing politician rings your bell? Or Fixme, the way of fixing Libor with no incriminating emails? Or YouHack, so that you can tell at a glance which media organisation is invading your privacy? They looked at me pityingly, but I feel sure that we are now seeing such an amazing collision of technology – search engines, voice analysis, geo-location, face and word recognition – that the possibilities seem boundless. One day soon I bet there will be something called Howler, an app that allows your phone to parse every word a politician says – and go BLEEP as soon as he or she is guilty of some inadvertent inaccuracy. And even if it isn’t Howler, it will be another wonder.

This sector is growing so fast that they think the number of new firms in the Shoreditch area alone has trebled, to about 1,800, in the past two years. The industry already employs 48,000 people in London, the most in any city this side of the Atlantic, and one day soon someone is going to come up with the big one, El Gordo, the next Facebook. We have the brains, we have the restaurants, we have the bars, we have the critical mass of talent. All someone needs is the right idea and then… well, they will need someone else to back it.

You remember the decisive scene in The Social Network, the excellent film about Facebook. It is when he goes to the bankers and outlines his scheme. You bet, says the money man. Half a million dollars? says the fellow. No problemo. Be my guest. That is one of the reasons why America has Facebook and Google and Amazon, and that is why – if we are to compete – we need to ensure we have a confident and dynamic banking sector.

It is time for British politicians to say it loud and clear and in unison: we need bankers, my friends! We need bankers who are not just cautious, owlish Polonius figures. We need bankers who are willing to take punts and put their necks on the line. Yes, by all means arrest anyone who has been involved in a criminal conspiracy to fix Libor. Bang ’em up. Slam ’em away. But we need the political establishment in this country to stop slagging off a sector that is utterly crucial to the British economy and the current system of global capitalism – and after four years of navel-gazing since the crash, we have yet to come up with an alternative.

We need to maintain or lengthen London’s lead as the best place to raise and allocate that capital, and we won’t succeed in that objective if we keep on bullying, berating and generally beating up anyone who has anything to do with a bank. It’s no use regulating them to the point where they are too nervous to lend, and it’s no use saying we should get rid of the “casino” investment banking and stick to good old high-street stuff. You need both. You need the high rollers as well as the nice chaps who used to give you sherry.

It is because Britain is so well placed – with the right time zone, language and legal system – to provide financial services that the sector employs hundreds of thousands of people, not all of whom are on stonking bonuses; indeed, most of them are on middling incomes. Collectively they produce tens of billions – about 12 per cent of government revenues – that go on schools, hospitals, welfare and roads. And then there is sponsorship of all kinds. Talk to the people who run London’s museums, orchestras and galleries. Do they think we should be continuing this onslaught on the banks? Of course not.

Someone the other day suggested that it might be embarrassing to have Barclays pay £50 million to help fund cycling in London. Listen, buster, I said, if they give us another £50 million I will change my name to Barclays Johnson. Of course we should be seeking to rebalance the economy, by building up manufacturing, hi-tech, medical sciences and other areas in which the British show protean powers of self-reinvention. Maybe one day the apps business will employ as many people as financial services; but that day is still some way off, and – this is the key point – it will never come unless we have a strong banking sector with imaginative people who are willing to take risks. London needs banks, and it’s time to stop knocking them.