Thursday 26 July, the eve of the opening of the Games, was a busy day for the Prime Minister as he focused on the benefits the Olympics will bring to the UK.
Speaking first in front of the Olympic Stadium, Mr Cameron said: “Let’s put our best foot forward, we’re an amazing country with fantastic things to offer. This is a great moment for us, let’s seize it.”
Few would disagree with that.
He added “… from where I stand, I think we’re set for a really remarkable few weeks for Britain, when we welcome the world, say this is a great country to come to, enjoy the Olympics, but also think of all the other things we’ve got to offer.”
Later in the day, at a Global Investment Conference timed to coincide with the Games, the PM went on to outline why the UK is a good place to do business. Towards the end of his speech, he said:
“This is a personal mission for me. So I mean it when I say, if there are barriers in your way, tell me. If there are things the British government can do to help, write to me. If there’s an opportunity that we’re not seizing, call me. My office … and all the team at UKTI will help. And I will gladly speak personally with any of you who have a deal or an opportunity that will mean jobs and growth for Britain.
My message today is very simple: Britain is back open for business.”
Metric Views’ first message is also simple. If you are an investor thinking of bringing business to the UK, and you think our measurement muddle is an obstacle, then tell the PM. It could be that you are worried that school leavers are acquainted with two systems of measures but familiar with neither, it could be the confusion in successive Governments which have claimed there should be one primary system of measures for the UK but have not been willing to ensure this, or it could be the schizophrenia at the UK Department for Transport which issues transport statistics in two systems of measures but bans road traffic signs for speed and distance in one of them (the one, incidentally, that will be used at the Games).
Our second message is simple too. The Games are a great showcase for international cooperation and for international sporting competition, but also for the universal system of measures that makes them possible. All of the athletes from the two hundred or so countries that are sending teams to the Games will have assessed their performance over the past months and years against common and universal standards. Like it or not, the Games will be a showcase for the International System of Measures (SI), formerly known as the metric system.
Let us hope UK broadcasters are able to demonstrate familiarity with SI, otherwise they may unwittingly reinforce the impression that measures in Great Britain are in a muddle.
Our third message concerns the Olympic venues, constructed on time and to budget, and all, whether permanent or temporary, designed and constructed to metric standards – nearly all UK construction projects using pound-foot units had already left the drawing board by the early 1970s. Each Olympic venue, and there are over twenty, is a showcase for the carefully planned and swift transition to metric measures which took place in the UK construction industry forty years ago.
And our final message is to Team GB:
Good luck – we will be right behind you over the next two weeks!