Not just another year, another decade, too. To be honest, I’m just glad to still be here, after suffering (here we go yet again: more tiresome mental health whining) the slings and arrows of depression and anxiety for much of the 2010s. I started the decade in a not-too-bad state of mind and that’s pretty well how I ended it.
I was more optimistic 10 years ago than I am today. We still had the final months of an admittedly world-weary Labour government which, nonetheless, had achieved great things and a prime minister, Gordon Brown, who played a huge role in ensuring the post 2008 financial crash did not take us from recession to depression. Within a few months, the country wanted change, but was not too sure what kind of change it wanted. So, it gave us a hung parliament, essentially a Conservative government in which some Liberal Democrats had jobs. Things at the end of 2009 were slowly getting better. I have no sense or feeling that things are getting better today. I see things getting much, much worse.
Earlier this month, we went to the polls and elected a hard right government under yet another privileged Old Etonian. Behind the clown act lies a formidable and utterly cynical politician, Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson, who lies more than he tells the truth. He will take Britain out of Europe, which will be an enduring tragedy, particularly for the young who will have to live with the consequences. I see nothing positive about a Johnson government or Brexit. And part of that reason is the failure of the main party of opposition, Labour.
I predict two general elections will occur in the 2020s and both will be comfortably won by the Conservatives. If Labour returns to the centre left, seeks to regain the support of the working classes who have abandoned the party in droves, embraces the centre ground, championing aspiration and success, it could, given the right leadership team, reduce the gap between the Tories and Labour by 2024 and then build for 2029. It’s an ‘if’ I do not expect to happen.
Although thousands of us are returning to Labour to help exorcise the Trots and Stalinists who have taken control, we could be flogging a dead horse. The comrades are manoeuvring to elect their chosen successor, who will be nothing more than continuity Jeremy Corbyn. She will be Rebecca Long-Bailey, on a joint ticket with her best mate Angela Rayner as deputy leader. As ever, the comrades are engaged in diversionary tactics by pretending that Labour Party chair Ian Lavery, who is a Corbynista down to his boots, is going to run. He isn’t. It’s all about pretending that Long-Bailey isn’t really the hard left heir to Corbyn. She is. When and if she wins, Labour returns to life support, leaving the only decision to be made would when to turn it off.
I see an elective dictatorship for both the foreseeable and unforeseeable future, with the Conservatives winning general elections with great ease and being able to do exactly as they like for the next five years. If I am still around in 2029, I expect to see a country even more divided than we are today. I see a country diminished in the world and far poorer. A Little England, a disunited and broken Kingdom as Scotland and Northern Ireland, and maybe even Wales, go their own way.
Call me pessimistic, call me cynical, I don’t care. There are few reasons to be cheerful and the best I can suggest is that we are nice to each other and make the best of a very bad lot. And more than anything, I hope we can somehow curtail the worst excesses of government and the illiberal elite by giving our children the best futures we can.