I always love this time of year – who doesn’t? It’s a great opportunity to get stressed about last minute arrangements, of course. But more importantly, it’s a good opportunity to reflect on the last year.
This has been quite a good one for politics. We managed to get through the whole year without changing prime minister once! That’s a good thing, as the problems thrown up from the war in Ukraine continues to put pressure on prices. But as we head into the final throes of this year, it is good to see inflation finally getting near its 2% target (latest figures show it has fallen to just 3.9%), whilst the economy looks OK. Most strike actions have been resolved, with just junior doctors still threatening more strikes over Christmas, however.
Wars continue. Ukraine carries on and looks set to keep going for the foreseeable future. The civil war in Myanmar gets worse, although it has fallen off the media’s radar screen and has done so for some time. And we have a whole new war to follow, in Gaza. All wars are tragic for all concerned and find watching civilians suffering in Gaza truly distressing. I recently signed a letter calling for a ceasefire, and it seems that this is an increasingly popular way forward for all but the protagonists.
We see the enquiry into the Covid lockdowns trundle on. Certainly, good TV when watching a few ‘gotcha’ moments, but I’m not sure it is really answering the exam question: how do we tackle global pandemics better in the future? This one will go on for years and years. Let’s hope we get useful answers from it.
And looking forward, we expect continued economic recovery; more controlled illegal migration, improving on the 30% drop in channel migrants; and a general election next year.
The next election can be any time before January 2025, but my money is on May, running concurrently with the police and crime commissioners elections, and for Kidderminster Town council. Others expect October, but we’ll know soon enough.
So as we wind down for Christmas, I wanted to say a huge thanks for all those people who give up their Christmasses to look after the rest of us – NHS front line staff, police, emergency services such as fire fighters, paramedics and volunteer groups like SARA, and others who are there to make sure we are safe whist we celebrate with our families. Thank you, and a very merry Christmas.