It’s here. 2012, a year that has been etched into our collective consciousness ever since London won the right to host this summer’s Olympic Games, is finally upon us. Add the annual torment of Wimbledon, throw in the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee, and we are set for a year that will live long in the British memory – but will it be any good?
The answer is, of course, that we have no idea. Amateur soothsaying is a dangerous game. The perfect forecast sees you emerge, as Vince Cable did having predicted the banking crisis, smelling of roses and reeking of credibility. Get it wrong, though, and your comments will haunt you forever – see Neville “peace for our time” Chamberlain for further details and a lesson on the value of tempered optimism.
History is littered with examples of wildly inaccurate predictions which seem utterly absurd in the cold, harsh light of the future. Spare a thought for the author and journalist John Langdon-Davies, who once asserted “democracy will be dead by 1950”. Or, sticking with the ideological theme, consider Nikita Khrushchev’s prediction in 1958 that Soviet communism would “bury” US-style capitalism.
Margaret Thatcher herself stated, ironically, that she would not see a female Prime Minister in her lifetime. And surely nobody in history has been so wide of the mark as the associate of Edwin L. Drake, the first man to drill for oil in the United States, who was so baffled by his 1859 strategy that he spluttered, “Drill for oil? You mean, drill into the ground to try and find oil? You’re crazy.”
Nonetheless, I’ve dusted off my crystal ball to bring you five things that will definitely happen next year. Unless, of course, they don’t.
The 2012 Olympics will come and go, and be judged to have been a grossly expensive damp squib. The Olympic Stadium alone has cost £486 million and, whilst there will undoubtedly be worthwhile regeneration for parts of East London, the spectacle itself will simply never live up to the monumental efforts of Beijing 2008. Compared to the previous Olympics, which many have called ‘the greatest show on Earth’, London can only fail.
Barack Obama will be re-elected for a second term as President of the United States – but only just. The Republican Party will choose the more moderate Mitt Romney to be there presidential candidate, but his campaign will be crippled by his inability to attack ‘Obamacare’ and a failure to connect with voters. His Mormonism will also prove a problem. Obama, meanwhile, will devote the final four years of his presidency to rebuilding the US economy.
David Cameron will instigate his first wide-ranging Cabinet reshuffle after May’s local elections, which will see Theresa May lose her job as Home Secretary. Having struggled to get to grips with the political hot potato of immigration and border control, May has been routinely described as ‘out of her depth’ and – for want of a better alternative – will be replaced current Health Secretary Andrew Lansley.
Ed Miliband has struggled in his first full year as Labour leader, but 2012 will see him finally hit his stride. His inner circle have now had plenty of time to formulate concrete policy and develop a narrative to sting the government with, and once austerity measures begin to hit the public in their increasingly empty pockets Miliband will be presented with the perfect opportunity to re-establish Labour as a ‘natural party of government’.
Finally – and this is speculative – Silvio Berlusconi will return, again! Mario Monti has replaced him as Italian Prime Minister for the time being, but it is only a matter of time before the Italian public hankers after their great leader for one last hurrah. Berlusconi’s first act will be to single-handedly solve the Eurozone crisis by unselfishly dipping into his own deep pockets and bailing Italy out of his own accord. You know you want it to happen!