I am not going to the catalogue of disasters and triumphs of the year past or make any prophecies about the forthcoming year except the following. The two most significant events to my mind last year were the Arab Spring uprisings and the global economic situation.
What was so interesting about the Arab uprisings was that it was spontaneous and generated from within, after 30 or 40 years of, in many instances tyrannical dictatorship, the man in the street had had enough.
These were not just small groups of individuals, as the leaders would have us believe, but mass demonstrations against the dictators, this even in the face of great danger of being shot. For example, in Syria, even as I write, (if one can believe the ostensibly independent journalists) hundreds are being shot daily as those in power attempt to hang on. My prediction therefore is that most of these revolutions will succeed and there will be a new pattern of governments to deal with in the Middle East.
Those that do survive will have been shaken up so severely they will have to do accede more power to the people, leading to a greater degree of democracy, albeit still limited, to have any chance of long-term survival.
The other aspect of these uprisings is that they will lead inevitably towards an exacerbation of the split between his Moslems and the Christians and, I suspect, that the second phase of the battle will be for control which will decide whether the country goes Christian or Islamic. I just hope it does not lead to a wholesale ethnic cleaning of the Christian minorities.
The other issue which will touch us all, is the very shaky global financial situation. The two regions that matter most to us, are America and Europe. The situation in America unfortunately is worse than we were led to believe and the growth towards recovery again is lower than that which was forecast. It will survive but it may take longer to come out of recession than we had hoped which will effect all of us, particularly our exports.
The European scene is even more grave from our point of view as it accounts for around 25% of our exports. I believe by the end of this year the shape of the Eurozone will be different from now. There is every possibility that Greece will have left (or being thrown out. as may be Italy, Spain and Portugal.) Whether these last three are actually thrown out or not will depend upon what restructuring Germany, together with France, manages to work out. I’m certain there will be some sort of two tier membership of the Eurozone (if it still exists) as I cannot see Germany continuing to support the profligate governments in these, countries. I have mentioned or any other Eurozone country. In the same way as the whole of Europe seems to owe more money to the Chinese than we can ever pay back, certainly the four countries I have mentioned are in the same position and face many years of austerity. Strikes will avail them nothing. Striking against the inevitable can clearly only make things worse.
Where will the UK end up in all this. Well, fortunately we are not a member of the Eurozone, although we do have 7/â‚¬8 billion guarantees which can be called in as a last resort.
if the Eurozone does crumble, as I predicted this will obviously have a serious effect on our exports and could well drag us into in recession. Of course, the other factor which will come into play is the determination of the Germans and French to make us suffer for using our veto to stop the introduction of the new EU Constitution. The introduction of this Constitution, could have been disastrous, from the U.K.’s point of view in that we could have lost more control over our own affairs then we have lost already and just become a satellite of Germany and France. I believe our Prime Minister, Mr Cameron, took precisely the right stance which now leaves the door open for us to negotiate the opting out of some of the more ridiculous directives which control and effect the lives of all of us.
Frankly, we are balancing on a knife edge and could go one way or the other. How will this affect the man in the street, the ‘man on the clapham omnibus.
Well, we will all have to tighten our belts and spend less although if we don’t spend how is the economy going to pick up? That is the dilemma for the government. (I suggest spending on major public works may be one solution). The government seems to be encouraging people to spend to bring back confidence, this despite all the noises that they are making now about restricting borrowing to individuals to avoid the tens of thousands building up impossibly high debts; the drastic cutting the public services; increasingly the pension age and the amount people have to contribute (otherwise UK ltd. could have bankrupted by about 2050 caused by the weight of public service pensions, many of which are inflation proof) and perhaps most important of all, getting real control over the unemployed and ‘disabled’, at least half of which would be capable of doing some sort of work, except that many of whom are not prepared to work for the minimum wage, as our the other youngsters from other European countries (because they are paid too a higher benefit for not working) hus saving billions on benefits. (Solution- make those physically able to earn their benefits and then leave the government to top them up to a living wage).
How the government manages this in the face of the immigration from 27 countries in the European union coming as they please – with no restriction on numbers – ,many of whom are prepared to work for the minimum wage where our own young and that they are not, I believe is a real dilemma. We should never have agreed to complete freedom of movement between countries without having some sort of control over the numbers. Maybe if the Eurozone crumbles we will have the opportunity of renegotiating that particular element
That then is the end of my macro prophecies. I suppose the other prophecy I need to consider is the one that affects me and my family. Will I survive the year and, if so, in what state? The short answer is that nobody knows- not even the doctors. All they willl say ,when you ask them what is the prognosis, is that every patient is different. I think this really is the long and the short of it. They simply do not know.
There’s no doubt that I’m becoming perceptively weaker month by month but I admit that it is fairly slow. The rate of deterioration over the last two things I have, that work to a degree, will be the determinative factor. The 25% usage of my arms and around the under 50% breathing capacity in my lungs will determine my future, bearing in mind that the first signs of MND became obvious in September 2007.
So this September is a significant date bearing in mind that we are told that 50% of people diagnosed with MND die within 14 months and the other 50% within five years apart, from the odd individual who can go on as long as 10 years or more However, I have a significant number of milestones to pass first post Our 49th wedding anniversary in March; the birthdays of my two children, in April and May; then’ my lovely’s birthday in May followed by the cricket season at Lord’s and my own 78th birthday in August. I just take it one milestone at a time.
I have deliberately not mentioned the terrorist threats as we seem to have come to live with these, however, click here to see of the ‘alert status’ world situation as seen through the eyes of one of our English funny men and tall person’ John Cleese.