Monday, 27 April 2009


This is a new word, not yet in the English dictionaries. In essence it means being economical with the truth. The meaning is derived from the practice by professional spin doctors at LOCOG whose aim is to emphasise the positive and suppress any negative implications of the Olympics in Greenwich Park, and it is manifested in various forms: weasel words, unsubstantiated assurances, telling people what they want to hear, inconsistent assurances, stating intentions but not delivering.

The first evidence which exhibits most of the forms of this art is taken from a letter circulated to Friends of Greenwich Park (18/07/08) from Jackie Brock-Doyle, Director of Locography (sorry, Communications and Public Affairs):
LOCOG sweet-talk

  • Not our intention to damage the Park irreparably.

  • There is enough space to accommodate a course of 6 km.

  • Designing a course around sensitive areas such as around the tumuli and acid grass.

  • The design will include community input and consultation.
  • BEF and FEI are happy to meet local residents to discuss concerns.

  • We will always ensure that we keep as much of the Park open for as long as possible.

  • Suggestions that the Park will be closed for months or years are inaccurate.

  • The 2011 test event will not cause substantial disruption.

  • We will minimise any need to close roads or alter normal road use in the borough.

  • Minimising disruption to the Park and its various activities.

  • Determined to ensure that you feel fully engaged going forward.

Lord Coe and other LOCOG members in his team are also masters of the art of making unsubstantiated statements and giving information without spelling out the implications.

Last November after a presentation at City Hall Lord Coe reassured a member of NOGOE that the cross country course would not go through The Flower Gardens. A few days later at the O2, Tim Hadaway and Sue Benson showed a course design that went through the Flower Gardens. Hadaway went on to assure the audience that no damage would be done to the Park. His only substantiation was that no damage had been done to the golf course in Hong Kong.

Lord Coe wrote in the Daily Telegraph on 18 March that "equestrianism as an Olympic sport does not attract huge viewing figures". Here are some figures which cast doubt on that assertion.

Sydney Games: tickets sold for all sports 86%, for equestrian sports 91%
Athens Games: tickets sold for all sports 66%, for equestrian sports 97%

Lord Coe also referred in the same article to "the minority voices against Greenwich" but what evidence did he have for this? All the indications available, in the absence of a local opinion survey, are to the contrary – over 3400 signatures on the Downing Street e-petition, Friends of Greenwich Park and Blackheath Society both voted to oppose the cross country event in the Park, over 5000 in Facebook groups against the Games in Greenwich, the bulk of editorial comment - of letters to the press (including online), of local blogs - are all against the use of Greenwich Park, and a sample of local, residential shopkeepers say that 90% of their customers are opposed.

Another example of "locography" appeared in the same Lord Coe article when he said, "Greenwich Park will bring equestrianism closer to a new audience". What evidence is there for this? Recently an attempt was made to do this in Cardiff with the holding of express eventing (a sort of 20/20 for riding), and the impressions are that it attracted the usual spectators. The sponsoring of a riding school in Greenwich borough by the BEF seems more like a token gesture than a sustainable project.

Having established the practice of this art, we ask members of the public to be on the look-out for positive spin during forthcoming community engagement, and we are in no doubt that there will be further examples of "locography". SD

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