Like most of the country, I’ve been fascinated, amazed and delighted by the Rio Olympics and the incredible performances of Team GB. Whether it’s Mo Farah’s phenomenal achievements on the track, the dominance of the likes of Trott and Kenny in the velodrome or the hugely talented gymnasts, there’s been so much to enjoy.
This is already Team GB’s best ever away Olympics, and yet it’s only Wednesday. It’s almost possible to believe beating the 2012 medals tally is possible.
Enormous fun then. A real example of national excellence and pride.
But what does this have to do with UNISON? Well for me I think it reminds us of a couple of important but politically unpopular truths.
First, these achievements were only possible thanks to the national lottery investment in UK sport and the London 2012 Olympics. Both of these happened because of a Labour government.
Alongside other (more important) achievements of the last Labour government like the minimum wage, equal rights legislation and investment in our NHS, it’s a small sign of what Labour governments can do and why having Labour governments is worthwhile.
But more than that, what Olympic athletes have in common with union members is that when they’re invested in, when their potential is unleashed and when they are given the support they deserve, they thrive. In these times of austerity, it’s so often argued that value for money is what matters in public services, that getting blood out of the metaphorical stone is the true achievements.
But these Olympians and UNISON members know the truth – that investment breeds excellence, that support breeds success, that when, as a country we set our minds to something we can achieve great things for our country and make our communities proud.
The work that public servants do each and every day is more important than sporting prowess, but it will rarely receive a medal, will rarely headline the evening news or the front pages of the paper and is no recipe for fame and celebrity.
But the very least the champions of our public services deserve is – like our Olympians – to receive the resources they need.