Half-Way Through the Year

Monday 30th June

Years ago I used to read the Observer and one of my favourite columnists was Alan Watkins.  One of his regular features was to predict in the style of Old Moores Almanac the coming year, politics, news stories etc:  I wonder what he would have predicted if he were still alive on 31st December 2013.

Stories he would have missed almost certainly would have been the missing Malaysian plane, which even though not a regular news item any more certainly caught all of our imaginations for a month or so, and the Ukraine.  I don’t think anyone could have predicted the mess the Ukraine is in now, six months ago.  Harold MacMillan, and I can still just about remember him, used to say that the worst problem with being Prime Minsiter was “Events, dear boy, events.”  And of all events predictable and otherwise, the amazing speed that the Ukraine has fallen into chaos and almost civil war had been amazing.  We are still not certain if it was very cleverly orchestrated by Russia, or if they too simply reacted to events and took their chances when they could.  The West has looked completely useless, pathetic sanctions and threats and visits by Kerry, and the election of a new President have done nothing to affect the situation on the ground.  It is like watching Yugoslavia all over again.

Then there is the Isis uprising in Iraq, who now hold almost half the country, though much of that is desert.  We all knew Iraq was in trouble, but that had been the situation ever since the disastrous invasion by US/UK in 2003.  None of the commentators foresaw this amazing rebellion.  In December of last year many commentators would have said that Assad’s days in Syria were numbered too, but he is looking stronger than ever, and the very people the West were serruptitously arming have now turned out to be more dangerous than Assad.

At home the success of UKIP in the European elections was much predicted, but nobody really expected them to do so well in the local elections.    And nobody would have predicted that Cameron woul pick a fight he couldn’t win in Europe, though that is looking more and more like an election ploy than a serious challenge to Europe.

Now does anyone want to predict the news of the next six months?