As 2020 is just around the corner it feels appropriate to look back over the last decade and not just 2019. Perhaps because 2019 seems to have so politically exhausting and damaging it’s tempting to see the last decade only through the narrow lens of the politcs Brexit. It didn’t have to be this way in 2010.
If you had pushed me to try and predict what the UK would look like in 2020 – remember all those catchy 2020 vision events you have been to – I woulnd’t have predicted what we are about to suffer.
In this article by John Rentoul it sums up nicely the key moments that shaped how we got into this terrible mess. When I lost my seat in 2010 Europe wasn’t even in the top 10 list of issues identified by voters. Yet the decade has finished being dominated by this divisive issue. And it isn’t over. The false claim of Getting Brexit Done by 31st January is of course another of those bumper sticker meaningless slogans. There is plenty of Brexit and its damaging conseuences still to come.
I don’t really have time to summarise the last decade any better than many of your favourite journalists and writers. And I would love to hear of your favourite and most depressing moments!
But I have been reflecting in conversations recently just how history can be defined by the small moments and marginal decisions, not some great masterplan. In my own alternative world Labour lost the 2010 election but sensibly elected David Miliband as leader of the Oppostition. The Party then didn’t spend the next decade telling voters how rubbish it thought the Labour government had been! We would still have had a Tory/Lib Dem coalition in 2010 but I don’t believe Cameron would then have won a small majority in 2015. No Tory majority, no ridiculous referendum and a wasted decade ahead delaing with the wrong problem for our decaying country – Austerity not Brussels.
There would have been no opportunity or reason for Labour to have lurched to the disasterous Corbyn period, which as we know led to the loss of hundreds of councillors in the various local elections and MEPs in the European elections and finally a General Electoin humiliation in 2019 to one of the least liked Prime Ministers in modern times. Labour ends the decade of opposition weaker and humiliated than when we lost in 2010. I will be writing lots about what we need to do next to recover all that lost ground, but only if we look like we are interested in fighting (See below)
In this alternative world nobody has heard of Brexit. The second coalition government of 2015 was about to head into the 2020 election (as part of the Fixed term Parliament Act) with Cameron having handed over to the unpopular architect of Austerity George Osborne and Labour under Yvette Cooper are 15% ahead in the polls.
Sadly none of this happened because of a small series of mistakes and plenty of political hubris. We have been devoid of genuine good political leadership for the last decade. Cameron will go down as one of the worst Prime Ministers of our time, closely followed by May. Both Miliband and Corbyn will be seen as abject failures for Labour.
So for 2020 I am not making any predictions about the next 12 months never mind the next decade. I am personally fortunate that I am now ‘retired’ and I could choose to disappear and just ‘enjoy’ life as one of the baby boomers generation. But I can’t sit back. I have always been driven to leave the world in a better place than I found it. I fear for the next decade as much as I feared for my future as a teenager growing up with the Cold War.
That’s why I am so concerend about the state of the Labour Party in these blogs. Without a decent opposition focused on winning the next election this country is at the mercy of a Tory Party dominated by the Faragist Right and a Cummings world view. It is not a pleasant prospect. So I will be acting practically on what I can do to help shape things in Leicestershire in my voluntary roles in things like the LLEP and Sports bodies, but along with others I will be advocating for a progressive alternative and a healthy Labour Party to hold the government to account. Fortunately we won’t have long to wait to know if Labour is serious about wanting to form another government all too soon. The Leadership election will tell us what sort of Party it has become. For me if it is a coninuity Corbyn candidate then I believe we will have taken the decsision to be a pressure group and not a viable government in waiting.
January 2020 will set the tone for the next decade with Brexit and Johson setting out his store on Brexit and whether he is a one Nation Tory or not.. It does feel a different era and country to that wonderful Summer of 2012. But as we have seen from the last ten years there is nothing we can predict about 2030 with any certainty.
I’d love for readers to stick their necks out and have a go at predicting where we will be in 2025 and 2030. Any takers?