So, what might be on the road ahead? It’s clear, the road behind is littered with failures and mistakes but we have the capacity to learn from what went wrong in 2016 and 2017. The year ahead is a great opportunity to make amends. It’s the verge of the New Year and I’m happy to indulge in one or two predictions for 2018.
Efforts at predictions are a mix of; what happened last time, where are we now and leaps of the imagination. Here I’ll offer more than a couple of leaps of the imagination. Nevertheless, this is offered with a grounding of practical possibility.
Will there be a UK General Election in 2018? I think it’s a 50-50 roll of the dice. In precarious circumstances it doesn’t take a lot to completely upend the political landscape.
If Labour has a strategy, and it maybe let’s just wait and see, it’s going to dissolve like sugar in the rain. The Conservatives have a kind of strategy but it’s a single-track railway line that ends in a cliff fall. On both hard left and right, a certain number of people will always be found to be perpetually angry with the world. They will continue to fuel much noise, smoke and mirrors.
This all points to a massive calamity which may, in fact, be a positive one. Out of the ashes will come several new notable leaders, movers and shakers. I’d say there’s a good chance that one of them will be charismatic enough to recapture the centre ground.
Even with the possibilities above, 2018 will be predominantly a wasted year for Government, much in the way of 2017. What I mean is that the overwhelming focus will be on Brexit disasters, attempts at recovery and newspeak worthy of “The Thick of It”.
On the positive side, public and private organisations will kick in their worst case scenario contingency measures and by chance they will work. A robust economy will struggle to finance these measures but a defacto-exit from Brexit will start to emerge. The public mood will shift towards a positive pragmatic European stance and start to see of retro-politicians as to blame for the previous wasted years. Having failed successively, populist nationalist will sink to less than 5% in the polls. At the same time, popular non-governmental organisations will see their membership grow significantly.
In my view, a referendum or General Election is likely in 2019. I can’t say what shape a winning Party of collection of Parties will be, but they will be different from anything we have seen before. The anger that weaves through the social media of politics will still be there but a new generation of politicians will have adapted to this environment. There will be an appetite for tackling big problems rather than running away. Its often said that fashion is cyclic. Keep those flared trousers for long enough and you will get to wear them again.
Optimistically, I’d say the decade from 2020 will be one where Britain returns to the European family and prospers greatly as a result.