Wednesday 1st January
As you read this I will be travelling back home. Hopefully you will be bleary-eyed and weary from a night on the tiles, or at least celebrating. Though why Hope should triumph over Experience at this time of year and every year at that is still a mystery to me. A good thing it does mind you, or the human race would have given up long ago and crawled back up to the trees and picked at the occasional banana.
So, what will 2014 hold, who can tell? Apart from extrapolating current trends which may of course be no guide at all, one can merely speculate. Politically the year will be dominated by the European elections which almost all commentators are predicting will be won by UKIP, and the Scottish referendum which looks like a damp squib from this far out but could still surprise us all. I expect the economy will continue to improve but whether speedier or a slowdown it is hard to tell. More importantly will be people’s confidence, whether the rise in house prices will make people feel better, how many real new jobs emerge rather than temporary part-time ones, whether the bank of England can maintain its’ ridiculously low interest rates, and how even a slight increase or even notice of an increase will affect people. The Government will be gearing up for a late Autumn bonanza of tax-cuts, with which to woo the public. Now that we have a fixed term parliament of five years it is quite likely that the 2015 election campaign will be in full-flow by October. The Lib-Dems will be shouting “It wasn’t us” about all the benefit cuts and it will all be to no avail, as their polling will remain stuck at around 10%.
The real unknown will be UKIP, which may collapse after the Euro elections or go from strength to strength. And Labour should be careful; the rise of UKIP is just as much a threat to Labour as to the Tories.
So, some interesting days ahead. Oh, and the small matter of a World Cup in Brazil. Well, we will have fun in the first two weeks until we return home. But as Donald Rumsfeld once said it is the unknown unknowns that you cannot anticipate, and 2014 could end up surprising us all.