Yet another 12 months of lost opportunities for politicians!
- Credit: Ashley Pickering
Twelve months ago I used my final column of the year to say Good Riddance to 2016 – the most miserable political year of my lifetime.
I don’t feel quite so uncharitable towards 2017 – but frankly it’s hardly been a vintage year and I don’t really think we’re in any better shape at the end of the year than we were at the beginning.
According to the Prime Minister we’ve got an agreement of sorts on the first stage of the Brexit talks – but no-one seems quite sure what it is going to mean.
I still cannot see for the life of me how Brexit is going to improve the lot of the average person on the street. It’s going to make the vast majority of people poorer than they would otherwise have been.
But never mind. We’re going to end up having the old-style passport back, so it’s all worth shoving a metaphorical barrel of treacle into the wheels of the British economy, isn’t it!
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The other miserable event of 2016 that we’re all still living with was the election of President Trump.
I suppose we should just be thankful that we’re all still here, despite having a US president who seems to think it’s clever to play chicken with someone like Kim Jong Un. That’s just what the world needs – two of the most unstable leaders on the planet with nuclear buttons at their fingertips!
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He’s also a US president who doesn’t seem to understand the basic tenets of diplomacy and has difficulty in understanding the effects of his comments on things that really have nothing to do with him.
What does he really know about London Mayor Sadiq Khan except that he’s a Muslim?
I suppose the good news is that everyone seems to understand that he’s a clown who just rattles around the White House or his favourite golfing resort, spouting nonsense, and the mature democracy that is the US just grinds on, waiting for someone with more common sense to take over in three years’ time.
Coming back home, the General Election was supposed to have left us with a strong and stable Conservative Government – and in the end left us with a weak and wobbly administration propped up by a bunch of Irish Unionists apparently stuck in the 1980s!
Labour did much better than they expected in June, and Jeremy Corbyn now says that he may be Prime Minister by the end of next year.
Of course, I may win the National Lottery jackpot next year, so such a claim cannot be totally discounted – but I’m not at all sure that Labour is as near power as Mr Corbyn and his Momentum fan club think.
It’s easy to get seduced into the notion that you’re some kind of Messiah if you have thousands of fans singing “Whoa, Jeremy Corbyn” at the top of their voices before you start speaking – but I know a lot of people (including some strong Labour supporters) are worried about the personality cult that seems to be developing around him.
And there is no doubt that the red-blooded socialism supported by Mr Corbyn and his shadow chancellor, John McDonnell, will ring alarm bells for some wavering voters whose memories go back to the 1970s and 1980s.
Will enough youngsters continue to turn out for Mr Corbyn – or will the older generation re-gain the political ascendancy, which could be bad news for Labour?
If the Tories need to remember how rubbish their general election campaign was, they only have to look at the difference a month made between elections in this year.
In May they won spectacularly in the county council elections. (Colin Noble’s Tory group won so many seats at Endeavour House that they didn’t know what to do.)
In June their campaign imploded and they lost their parliamentary majority – along with cabinet minister and Ipswich MP Ben Gummer. Labour’s Sandy Martin has proved to be very different in style to Mr Gummer but has made a good start to his career in the House.
Now, at the end of the year, national politics seems to be ticking along, rather than making any great strides.
Locally, the councils in the east and the west of the county are looking forward to starting new lives as “super-authorities”.
In the middle of Suffolk, people look certain to be left with the most incredible mess, as any proposed merger between Babergh and Mid Suffolk seems set to founder.
Maybe 2018 will surprise us and become the year when everything started working well again. But I’m not counting my chickens yet!