Will 2013 be better?Posted: January 1, 2013
Like it or Hate it: 2012 has been a glorious year, the Jubilee, The first British winner of The Tour de France, our Olympians and Paralmpians who can only be described as National Heroes and – if you’re a rugby fan like me – England trouncing The All Conquering World Champion All Blacks at Twickenham.
For the prime minister, 2012 is best described in one word: omnishambles.
The year started with snow that was blamed for zero growth, but don’t worry the Jubilee will spur the flagging economy into growth. When no growth appeared the Jubilee was blamed!
We had the self destructing budget and Pastygate which could have come straight out of an episode of Yes Prime Minster. Most of the budget didn’t survive expect of course for the scrapping of the 50p tax band. No surprise there then.
Nor will Mr Cameron remember with joy the Leveson Inquiry where we learned how he shared intimate texts – and a horse – with a tabloid editor.
It hasn’t been much better for the deputy prime minister. He lost a Cabinet minister to an alleged traffic offence, he lost his plan to reform the House of Lords, and yes, he lost a shed load of elections.
His, two-year too late, apology for raising tuition fees was mocked across the internet.
And as a coalition, on the only issue that matters, Messrs Cameron and Clegg have not done much better.
The economy has double dipped and the forecasts are grim with a triple dip looking limey for 2013. The small flicker of optimism is that they remain united on cutting the deficit.
In the new year, the coalition will try to build on that unity by publishing a mid-term report, setting out their plans for transport, child care, youth unemployment and social care but as spring beckons that unity will be tested.
Having fallen out with the Tories over the budget, Lords reform, boundary changes, energy policy, the Leveson report and drugs reform. With the 2015 election looming closer the Lib Dems will attempt to use these differences to highlight differences between them and the Tories.
The rows over secret courts and communications data will be fought on open ground. There will also be tensions as both parties try to agree the nation’s budget for the first year of the next parliament, a spending review dominated by, well, less spending.
As for the Conservatives, there’ll be continuing division over gay marriage but it is Europe that presents the toughest challenge. Mr Cameron will in January give a long-awaited speech in which he will promise a referendum on Britain’s membership of the EU. The risk is that he does not go far enough to satisfy his own party or those attracted to the UK Independence Party.
UKIP have done well in elections this year as the new party of protest, regularly coming third in opinion polls ahead of the Lib Dems. Their challenge now is to start turning that support into seats in Parliament and elsewhere.
Labour have had a reasonable year. They are ahead in the opinion polls, they took a seat off the Tories in a by-election and their leader Ed Miliband has shown growing confidence at the dispatch box.
And yet questions remain. The party’s begun yet another policy review and it is still not entirely clear what Labour is offering voters on issues like education, health and, yes, the economy.
Some time soon the two Eds – Miliband and Balls – will have to set out what spending they intend to cut if they are to win trust on the economy.
North of the border, the battle for and against Scotland’s independence will heat up. The polls for now are leaning against the SNP who’ve got into difficulties over an independent Scotland’s relationship with the EU.
But there is a lot of time until the referendum in 2014 and opinion polls can change. So politics these days is fluid. Expect it to remain so in the year ahead.
- What does Dismal Dave have to look forward to in 2013? (chimerapapers.com)
- David Cameron’s coalition has another shaky year in store (guardian.co.uk)
- Tories lost a fifth of their voters in the last year, poll reveals (independent.co.uk)
- Labour keeps lead over Tories and Ukip gains point in Opinium/Observer poll (guardian.co.uk)