The new year beckons. Of course, we all start with good intentions and resolutions. I usually have a stab at Veganuary, trying out a vegan diet. It’s not for any ideological reason, more to find out its appeal. I could never understand meat free burgers, in the same way I have never got my head around alcohol free beer. But cutting down on meat does cheer me up after the binge fest of Christmas.
But this year brings elections. More elections than you can imagine. Across the globe, there will be 40 national elections for new leaders. 41% of the world’s population will get an opportunity to cast a vote, representing 42% of the worlds economic output. Global commentators (some) suggest this could be a tumultuous year from a geopolitical point of view.
Opening the election batting will be Taiwan, focussing attention on the dispute with China. Closing in December will be the US presidential, where the contest is much expected to be a re-run of four years ago between Biden and Trump. Both candidates will be in their 80s by the time America votes again for a president. Interestingly, China will feature heavily on the international security debate in the US. It’s ironic that China, a stranger to democracy, features so heavily in some elections.
And it is extremely likely that by the time we celebrate Christmas next year, we will have concluded an election here in the UK. The battle lines are already being drawn. My prediction of the top three battle lines.
The NHS. Always a big focus, it will be interesting to see how Labour’s Wes Streeting plays it. He is a bright individual and his focus looks to be on major reform, saying that there is no point spending endless money on a broken system. Waiting lists will be an issue, but much of that is down to the BMA strikes.
Homes. With a generation struggling to find a place on the housing ladder, help for first time buyers will be a key vote winner. But without a rational plan for housing supply, increasing demand for some will only push prices higher for others.
Taxes, and public finances in general. Tax is too high, but we need an intelligent debate about it. We really need to figure out what public services we value at the expense of freedom of spending choice by earners.
There will be a lot more, but the world will have changed, a lot, by the end of 2024. An interesting year ahead!