In June I published an update on the year so far. You can see what I said about that by looking in the archives for this blog. This piece only covers the period from July onwards. The text in black is the prediction while the red is the outcome.
July. Spell of mild weather brings country to a stand-still. Opposition blames government for failing to invest in mild weather defences. That was a joke, but the weather did feature heavily in most conversations throughout the year. Andy Murray returns to form to lose Wimbledon title. After cruising through the early rounds with straight sets wins, Murray crashed out of the quarter finals in straight sets to 11th seed Grigor Dimitrov. Christmas decorations appear in the shops. Not Christmas decorations, perhaps, but outside Helidon lakes hotel a banner appeared inviting customers to make bookings for Christmas parties. Gardeners, time to sow the seeds of freedom.
August. Traditionally the time when MPs go on holiday and we can enjoy a few weeks of peace and quiet. Unfortunately, with the Scottish Independence Referendum in September the news is dominated by the campaigning of the various parties. The electorate is once again confused but this time the people of Scotland will vote. The polls predicted a close contest and it took some major grovelling and promises by the three main Westminster parties to swing the final result. A football club will spend the equivalent of the GDP of a moderate sized country to transfer a player. Luiz Suarez, need I say more? He will earn so much money he won’t have to pay any tax at all. Suarez went abroad so his tax is another country’s problem, but there are many other highly paid sports stars that benefit from our somewhat lax approach to tax assessment. Hotels, restaurants and pubs publish their Christmas menus. I did spot Christmas menus in local pubs. Selfridges and Harrods both opened their Christmas shops in August. Gardeners, time to harvest a hopeful bounty.
September. On the grounds that turkeys don’t vote for Christmas the Scots vote ‘No’ in the Independence referendum. An old man typing on an out of date PC could predict this result (and I did). Yes they did, fortunately for everyone, not least the Scots. Alex Salmond claims a moral victory on the grounds that some people voted in favour. Alex then resigned as leader of his party and as Scotland’s First Minister. SNP slip below the Scottish Conservative Party in the polls. Surprisingly not true. The SNP seems to be gaining ground at Labour’s expense. Gardeners, time to plant the seeds of delight.
October. Channel Five repeats “Top Fifty Christmas…..” compilation shows on continuous loop. Not just Channel 5. They seemed to be on just about every channel – cheap TV, the hidden consequence of ‘choice’. Mild weather continues to dominate news broadcasts as real news doesn’t provide such dramatic pictures. Old people terrorised in their own homes by ‘trick or treaters’. Commerce won again as we collectively spent a fortune dressing up as very un-scary ghosts. Bad taste outfits of the year were those depicting Ebola victims. Well done folks, makes you proud to be British. Gardeners, time to harvest the grapes of wrath.
November. Gory tradition of burning a Catholic in effigy is maintained while pets are frightened by explosions. No change there. Men are sponsored to grow silly facial hair for ‘charidy’ rather than just give the money because it’s a good thing to do. Yup, got that one. Children in Need breaks new record for boring people to death with bad comedy sketches and second rate bands using show to gain publicity. Yup, got that one right too. Blatant Plugger of the Year Prize goes to S Club 7 who appeared on the show several times during the evening and then launched their nationwide reunion tour the following Monday. Still, I got a lot more material for my next book out of it. Gardeners, time to reap what you sow.
December. Everything else is cancelled because its Christmas and ‘it’s for the kiddies.’ Alcohol related injuries reach record levels. Woman borrows money she can’t afford to repay and then blames loan companies for lending to her. Probably won’t find out if that last one is true until January, but I suspect it is. Evidence of Christmas overspending appeared on Black Friday when shoppers went berserk trying to save a few quid on fake sale items in more blatant commercialism imported from the USA. No one really mentioned that Black Friday is a made up thing designed to boost sales before the shops have to start making genuine price cuts. Gardeners, sow your seeds on stony ground.
Well, it was just a bit of fun and nothing I said was anything that someone else couldn’t also have said. That is part of my point. We keep on doing the same things year after year and expecting different results.
Next May we have a general election. I’m not going to try to predict who will win, the polls are inconclusive and I suspect they are likely to remain so throughout the campaigning season. Each party will claim they are ahead. They will do so by selecting the polls that favour them and ignoring the ones that don’t. The newspapers that support them will do the same in order to try to convince us that their party is winning and we all want to be on the winning side, don’t we? How else can we account for Tony Blair getting elected?
If it’s that close a call then it may result in another coalition government. The Lib Dems are heading for a wipe out so it won’t be them that forms a new government with a larger party, it will be either UKIP or the SNP. With the SNP making it clear they will back Labour, David Cameron is going to have to be quite nice about Nigel Farage if he wants to secure his backing.
What a choice for the English. Be governed by politicians from a country that wasn’t sure it even wanted to be part of the same country as us, or be governed by a party that is determined to ruin our economy by breaking our ties with our largest trading partner. I mean to say, we can be sure of real prosperity for the next thousand years, can’t we?
We may get lucky (or unlucky, depending on your political allegiance) and either the Tories or Labour will gain an outright majority. So we will either be governed by the party that got us into the recession that lost them the last election and caused so much pain, or the government that has had to inflict so much pain to try to get us out of it but still hasn’t managed to balance the budget. We’re spoilt for choice aren’t we?
And before Labour start with the "it was all the bankers’ fault" nonsense again may I remind you that Chancellor Gordon Brown had run up a £35 billion spending deficit and a £450 billion national debt BEFORE the banking crisis started and most of the present Labour front bench were part of the Blair/Brown government for most of their 13 years in power. In football they sack managers that get their teams relegated, they don’t re-appoint them so that they can do the same things again.
Ed Balls is promising to eliminate the deficit by 2020, but will add £50 billion to the national debt in doing so. Nice one Ed. I’m sure my Grandchildren will be blessing your name in years to come.
George Osborne, on the other hand, has promised to eliminate the deficit in around the same timescale but only by further reducing public spending. We all know what that means. Lots of front line service providers being sacked while their managers get ever bigger desks to sit behind.
Labour will try to avoid certain facts, so I’ll state them here:
- Ours may not be the strongest economy in Europe, but it is stronger than most, growing at about 2.5% p.a.
- Unemployment is the lowest it has been since 2009. Still not low enough, but better than sizeable chunks of Europe. It varies from area to area. In my local area its only 1% but in many parts of Scotland and Wales it much, much higher.
- Inflation is the lowest it has been since 2007.
- Oil and gas prices are falling thanks to changes in the global oil industry. (What would that have done to Alex Salmond’s income forecasts, I wonder?)
On the negative side:
- Hospital waiting lists are once again growing.
- There has been a massive increase in the number of food banks operating.
- There are too many people earning the minimum wage or employed on zero hours contracts.
- Boris Johnson is once again standing for Parliament.
- There are still too few new houses being built.
- Add your own pet negative here.
The question that I will be asking my local parliamentary candidates is therefore “how are you going to sort out the negatives that have been created over the last five years while at the same time not damaging the progress that has been made?” The answers will probably be quite revealing. What am I talking about - the answers will be the usual platitudes and vague promises.
Regardless of which party wins the next election, the government will still be in power. At least it won’t be Russell Brand!
Talking of the Toy Town Trotsky, here’s one prediction for next year I’m willing to make. He will finish and release the film that is the reason behind all the self-publicity he has been indulging in for the last few months. However, by the magic of film production company accounting it will not make any visible profit, allowing Brand’s backers and Brand himself to avoid paying large amounts of income tax. Remember, you read it here first.
May 2015 bring you all you wish for, as well as peace and prosperity for all.