On the money --- Jeremy Hunt's decision to double ceremony budget was vindicated by last night's magical spectacle
By Tim Montgomerie
Follow Tim on Twitter
I was very fortunate to be at last night's opening ceremony. It was an occasion I will never forget. The Olympic ring(s) emerging from that industrialised stage; the rural scenes; the Red Arrows; the performance of great hymns and Shakespeare; the powerful portrayal of Jamaicans arriving in Britain on the Windrush boat; the sequence with the Queen and Bond; the sight of Beckham powering down the Thames; the roar that greeted Team GB; the beautiful Union Flag fluttering at the heart of the stadium; the humour of Rowan Atkinson; the celebration of our great entertainments industry, of the principles of the NHS and of some of our great innovators. It was a magical, unforgettable occasion watched by a billion people. If the media write-ups are accurate then the world was wowed too.
The original plan had been for an 'austerity Olympics'. Of course these are tough times but how often does a country get to showcase itself to the world? This might be the last Olympics ceremony Britain hosts for another fifty years, perhaps a century. The world saw a quirky, inventive, diverse, compassionate, funny Britain last night and we proved yet again that we are good at the biggest of events. I don't think the Games could have got off to a better start. It didn't even rain.