Thursday 2 January 2014

Three political headaches for the year ahead

Happy new year to anyone tuning in. Vaguely political bloggers like me are expected occasionally to be a little like we frame ourselves – as wise seers, travellers in the future, bringing back news.

We have to actually put ourselves on the line some time, and here we have an unfair advantage. When we predict the future wrong, as we invariably do, nobody remembers; but when we occasionally call it right, we are permitted to crow about it. It’s a win-win deal.

So here are my predictions for the way we will be debating politics in a year’s time. We will be discussing the following in agonisingly worried detail:

1. The rise of the intolerant, nationalist right across Europe, after their worrying and spectacular gains in the Euro-elections. It will be a revolt against technocracy, and we will be tut-tutting in the UK - without recognising how much we are responsible for it. The eastward expansion of the EU was carried out at the behest of the British, even though there was an obvious and probably permanent mismatch in our economies between west and east. And the petty-fogging rules, which have become such a symbol of the excesses of the European Commission, are a direct result of the single market cheer-led by the UK. A miserable irony.

2. Political stalemate over the status of Scotland. I know all the bets are on the Scots giving a whole-hearted thumbs down to independence, but I am not sure it will be overwhelming at all – and for the same reason for the revolt against the European Commission and the bureaucracy of the single market: voting yes to Scottish independence looks increasingly like a vote for imagination and open-minded courage, and against the miserable technocratic carping about how people’s narrow economic interests will be compromised.

3. The breakdown of the measurement and transparency system in UK public services, which will have revealed so many frauds and manipulations – affecting public and private sectors alike – and also revealing that the target data is wholly faulty too. I don’t think payment-by-results will survive it. A new system will be required, and I am hoping to spend some of the year ahead designing it.

So there you are. Those are my predictions for themes of the year ahead. Remember, you read it here first (and possibly, also, last).

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