Seb Coe thanks Labour for the Olympics

By Charles Maggs

Seb Coe, architect of the London 2012 Olympics, has thanked Labour for its role in securing the event in a surprise announcement at the party's conference in Manchester today.

The Tory peer raised eyebrows in Conservative HQ with a gushing tribute to Labour's organisation in the early stages of the Games.

"I am delighted to be at the Labour party conference to put on record my personal thanks to Tessa Jowell, Tony Blair, Ken Livingstone, Richard Caborn and countless others that have made the Olympic and Paralympic Games the success they were," he said.

"Their foresight and energy in supporting and driving forward the bid and the infrastructure budget was unparalleled."

He also praised the level of cross party co-operation that was necessary to deliver such a successful event and will urge such a spirit of cohesion to continue in order to ensure a great legacy for the games.

His plea for cross bench solidarity was echoed by former shadow Olympic minister Tessa Jowell who was joined on stage by a number of Olympic and Paralympic medallists as well as elite coaches.

But the temptation to score political points proved too much for Jowell, who criticised education secretary Michael Gove.

"When we won the right to host the Games we made a promise. That the 2012 Games would inspire a generation. Until the election this was happening in schools across our country," she said.

"The dismantling by this education secretary of a world class organisation for PE and sport in schools is beyond belief."

She also praised the patriotism showed by the British public in getting behind Team GB's athletes.

"A country of progressive values, with an inclusive and joyous patriotism which celebrated our open, diverse and tolerant society," she said.

"It was a terrible summer for prejudice, intolerance and narrow interests of every kind."