A socialist blog taking inspiration from a broad spectrum of schools, traditions, philosophies and practices on the left as well as contributing some new ideas.
Wednesday, 31 December 2014
Predictions for 2015!
Predictions for 2015!
Making predictions for the next year on New Year's eve is a complicated business. Normally people try to maintain a balance between saying something definitive and interesting but not really wanting to stick their neck out and risk looking stupid when none of it happens!
I don't care if I look stupid in a years time and I'd rather this was fun so here is exactly what I think will happen in the next year (focus will be primarily on the UK).
Conservative, UKIP, DUP alliance in power
There will be a General Election in May, the Conservatives will "win" but not have an outright majority, just as they didn't last time. They will win because no one likes Ed Milliband and Labours policy of just promoting a vision of 'austerity lite' will start to look very pointless to their more politically engaged supporters (or ex-supporters).
UKIP will have gained 15+ seats and the DUP in Northern Ireland will have maintained their usual 8 or so (they're on 8 now, it doesn't swing massively in Northern Ireland). This will be enough for a coalition with The Conservatives which they will all probably decide to go for (despite rumours of Cameron saying he'd never do it). They will be loved by many and despised by many equally.
The country will be more politically split than it has been for a while. Smaller parties will all do better than in previous years, due partly to the Scotland referendum and partly to the continuing influence of the internet and social media allowing to parties ignored by the mainstream media to get a louder voice.
A big swing to the right in terms of rhetoric
Labour and the Lib Dems will be expecting this (the above) and the whole rhetoric in the run up to the election will take a decisive swing to the right as they try to desperately grab some power. It will get more and more okay to ruthlessly criticise immigration, austerity in general will not be questioned, labour will, of course, attempt to package it differently but it will remain clear that there is very little difference between the main parties, there will also be will be a focus on criminal justice and lots of love for the military from everyone. There is no doubt that politics in the UK is taking another big swing to the right (after the 1990's 'New Labour' swing). Admittedly lots of this has already happened, I'm really just predicting more of it.
A new left- wing alliance
The Greens, Paid Cymru, the SNP and maybe the respect party will form a closer alliance (and maybe make it official) as they form a more radical (ish) left wing voice in lieu of labour who most people will begin to dismiss as pointless (also a good few of UKIPs seats will have been nicked off labour anyway). This will form a new minority left-wing.
The SNP will do well and there is a chance that the Greens might get one or two more seats. This group may start to talk openly about working more closely together pre-general election.
A more divided society
As mentioned above, the UK will get more divided than it has been for some time. The Scottish referendum pushed politically engaged lefties further left than labour (which is hardly surprising since labour are firmly on the right wing by any objective standards). It is also true that Russell Brand will have had a noticeable impact. He will declare that this new left- wing alliance is the answer and is worth voting for after all. This will be hard to resist as he becomes more successful and more accepted by the mainstream. Most people will agree with him, some of us will question the focus on party politics but will not want to make a massive fuss out of a desire to keep the focus on the heart of the problem (the mainstream who have, and will continue to have, all the real power).
Strikes, protests and riots
A core of activism will build up around this alliance of the lefty parties will cumulate in protests and strikes by the end of the year. Rioting would not be a surprise but it will probably be much more intentional and purposeful than 2011's riots. It's not going to have majority support by any means though, even amongst the working class. The whole activist movement won't be like it was in the late 70s when sizeable numbers where behind it, participants will be marginalised and it will be controversial to declare support for them at work or other similar settings. The mainstream media will not touch any of this action taking place until it gets violent and will obviously misconstrue it (as always).
The push for relaxation of legislation proscribing certain drugs will be loud and vocal by the end of 2015, louder than now, but the Conservative-UKIP alliance will resist it at all costs. Openly speaking out in favour of total decriminalisation of drugs will become much more socially acceptable, those who don't support it will begin to realise that they are fighting a loosing battle. Of course when de-criminalisation comes thoughts will turn to how to cash in on it, small businesses or self-employed drug dealers will be forced out of the market. It might surprise some people to see this impact poverty rates, especially where some dealers from poorer areas are making money off selling weed and cocaine to the middle classes at present.
Capitalism is in crisis, it is becoming hard to tell if that is just for us (the people) or if the capitalist class is feeling it too (unlikely given the fact that wealth inequality extrodinarily high right now).
There has been no real economic recovery, unemployment figures are dropping but this is largely to do with the massive explosion in zero hours contracts jobs and forced labour schemes for those on benefits (this removes them from official figures). The deficit has not been cut in any significant way and national debt is still accruing at a huge rate. If this is a real crisis, not a manufactured power/money grab as I continue to suspect, we will see real problems. Another recession now, with welfare cut the way it has been will see people facing destitution in ways we aren't used to in the UK, we will be shocked at the poverty that people are finding themselves in by the end of the year.
Homelessness is going to explode. I'm close to certain about this one. By this spring/ summer, when the winter night shelters have closed up we will see more people on the streets than we have in 25 years. We will get used to shop doorways and railway stations being full of rough sleepers again, charities will struggle to cope. With squatting now criminalised this will be a big source of clashes with the police (I've already personally wittnessed this happening in a small way, it will get worse), some confrontations will turn into riots.
The extent to which welfare reforms have impacted the help available to homeless people is hard to over estimate, it has been nothing short of devastating. On top of this most of the funding the government handed out to smooth the transition period is now running out, a lot of it was set for two years and it will not be replaced, charities will also have to cut services when they are needed the most. This crisis will tempt the government to look towards measures to criminalise behaviour associated with homelessness but they will know that they have to be careful (anything too harsh that catches the public eye could atract people to the growing activist cause). The average age of death for homeless people, currently standing at around 47 years old will probably have dropped a few years by the end of the year, especially if next winter is a cold one as many people who are not used to the streets will be facing them for the first time.
Sign up to volunteer or donate some money to a local homeless charity now if you want to help avert this, I'm confident that we are on the doorstep of a crisis (I have done full time support work with homeless people, more or less, for 9 years and we've never seen anything like this and it's building), just google 'homelesness' and the name of your town/city, you'l get a load of options, most of them are very flexible as long as you can just offer to do your bit and pitich in with whatever they've got going on and I know from first hand experiance that the smaller local charities (the ones that aren't usually getting in big corporate sponsorship or government money) value every £1.00.
I don't have anything hugely specific to say here on a global scale apart from that the west will continue to sour it's relationship with Putin and Russia and tension between certain elements within Islam and the west will continue to run high. The possibility of a convenient terrorist attack or a handy excuse for another war is never off the table.
Countries to watch:
Venezuela and Bolivia: I've expected military intervention from the west in these Latin American nations for a long time. Their governments aren't playing ball and aren't fitting into the 'Washington consensus' globally. They're on the hit list, no doubt about it.
Mexico: What will happen with the on-going 'almost revolution' in Mexico? I don't know to be honest. If it keeps snowballing it's going to be very significant
Parts of Algeria, Chad, Mali, Mauritania, Niger and Tunisia The (Magreb desert): There is ongoing insurgency in this area, the risk of another so called 'terrorist state' forming in that area is quite high. They could easily join up with Nigeria's 'Boko Haram'.
Palestine/ Israel: (As if it's a difficult prediction to make). After the year it's had this year Israel knows that it is getting more and more isolated internationally. For some reason this is causing it to step up both rhetoric and action against Palestinians. If Israel began to loose some of it's key international support the balance of the conflict could shift a little. Are the west finding they have enough alternative solid allies in the Middle East area now for Israel to look insignificant and not worth the trouble? The USA is still clinging to Israel but even conservatives across Europe are backing away.
Syria: Not specifically for the ISIS Vs the west conflict but to see what becomes of the Rojova Revolution in the North. Will it survive? I hope so (Google it).
The USA: The USA is entering what will go down in history as another of the great civil rights movements. The mass protests against the police, especially police brutality against black people are growing and getting more militant. Even tonight as I write this reports are coming in that a number of police stations have been occupied by protesters. This will probably, eventually, lead to some reforms which will make it harder for more radical voices to continue to demand that they don't go far enough as liberals grow tired and are satisfied with the concessions being offered. This is happening at the heart of the empire so it is going to be of interest to a great many people around the world to see how this one goes. We in the rest of the world can only hope for a revolution in the US from a distance and show our support to those who are pushing things that way.
In conclusion. Conditions will get worse, unfavourable outcomes are likely across the board but the opposition will probably consolidate more and bicker less as things worsen. This will give a chance at change although lots of the obvious changes that might come about aim at reform, not revolution.