This is the second of my slightly late in arriving posts of my new year thoughts. The first looked back at 2007, this one looks forward to the year ahead. This is how I reckon 2008 will be a big year for all of us.
I will start close to home with my personal objectives which, deciding to avoid specific resolutions, are fairly simple. The first is to earn more money. Four and a bit years of concentrating on local politics has had its impact on my personal finances and I need to spend some time putting that right. I could be looking at making a significant career change this year, but we’ll see. Second is to have more fun, I might even have a couple of holidays this year. Third is to write more stuff. I want to think more, read more, learn more and develop my expertise and then hopefully turn that into some useful writing. Not only to do that on this blog but hopefully in other forums.
I also reckon that there won’t be a shortage of things to write about in British politics in 2008. This is likely to be a crucial year for all the three main political parties. The political environment is extremely fluid at the moment. We have seen extraordinary reversals in fortunes for both Labour and the Tories in recent months. I don’t see any reason why there won’t be equally dramatic changes over the coming 12 months. The real question will be whether politics will retain this fluidity or whether the positions of the parties and their key figures will solidify over the year.
Questions will be asked of all three leaders in 2008. Can Gordon Brown learn how to govern and begin to pull Labour’s position around? Can David Cameron maintain the Tories’ momentum, keep their poll lead and keep his party behind him? Will Nick Clegg live up to the claims that have been made for him and do what is needed to revive the Liberal Democrats fortunes? I have a view, but I’m not yet ready to reveal my predictions!
What I will predict however is that issues to do with Europe will play a much bigger role in British politics than they have for the last few years. This will be partly due to what seems to be Gordon Brown’s odd attitude to European politics. We have already seen how his approach resulted in him making a ludicrous spectacle of himself over the signing of the constitutional treaty. I think that there is a good chance that European policy could become rather dysfunctional within a Brown led government. A good opportunity for the Lib Dems by the way, if only we could learn to talk about our commitment to Europe properly.
The other reason for my prediction is Nicolas Sarkozy. In the second half of the year France takes on the Presidency of the European Union. It looks very likely that the new French President will want to shake things up a bit. He will be in a strong position to do so and is not afraid of controversy. So the actions of a provocative French President and the inactions of a sulky British Prime Minister could create some interesting tensions.
However, the dominant event of 2008 is going to be the election of the next US President. The contest to choose the nominees has already become a fascinating one, with interesting characters and amazing stories, and it is likely to get even more exciting. The fact that the front runners for the Democratic nomination are a black man and a woman is without question historic. However, we shouldn’t let the noticeable Democrat bias in the British media fool us into thinking that the Democrats have the Presidency in the bag. With the right candidate a Republican win is still possible. My view is that a McCain candidacy would be a very exciting one if the Republicans can find the courage to pick him.
As enjoyable as this contest may be for political anoraks we shouldn’t underestimate just how important for the world the choice of the next US President will be. I get the sense that across a whole range of international issues decision making and progress are on hold as governments and leaders wait to see who the next resident of the White House will be. In particular progress on achieving greater cooperation on tackling the causes of climate change has stalled. For me this is where the US election has its most decisive impact. If the new President has an understanding of, and commitment to respond to, global warming then the international community has a chance of doing what is necessary to meet our number one threat. If they do not then the world is in serious trouble. The stakes couldn’t be higher.
On that apocalyptic note I shall end. Here’s to 08. May it be a good one for you.
This content was originally posted on my old Process Guy blog.