Sunday, 1 January 2012

20 predictions for 2012

Wukan, China, December 2011: taste of the future?
These predictions are not what I want to happen - as will be obvious from quite a few of them - but what I think, on sober reflection, will happen. If we learnt anything from 2011 it's that we live in unpredictable times, so obviously this is a reckless exercise - and no doubt at least several predictions will be proved wrong.

History is what we make it. I hope that popular movements in various parts of the world will - as the Arab masses did in 2011 - shape history in a new direction.

Let me know what you agree or disagree with - and perhaps offer a few predictions of your own.

1. Egypt's revolutionary movement will continue to battle on the streets and win some of its demands, though broadly speaking the political situation will be stabilised with moderate forces, e.g. Muslim Brotherhood, using the electoral sphere to boost themselves and undermine the movement on the streets.

2. The Occupy movement in the US will almost completely disappear, but many of those involved will develop new campaigns and protest movements, offering a longer-term antidote to the Tea Party. The organised left, however, will remain extremely weak and marginalised.

3. The Tories will succeed in dismantling the NHS, due to a deep failure by Labour, trade unions and the anti-cuts movement to get their act together in stopping it.

4. There won't be foreign military intervention in Iran, but there will be in Syria.

5. Unison and a number of other unions will capitulate in the pensions dispute, but there will be some further strike action by PCS, NUT and others. These unions will, however, still settle for a deal - by no later than February - that is more favourable to the government to the unions.

6. Labour will move slightly further to the right (astonishing as that may seem), under pressure from the Blairite wing and in the absence of a credible left-wing counterweight. Ed Miliband will survive as leader, due to the lack of a popular alternative and the disarray inside his party.

7. There will be marked increase in the use of nationalism - and to a lesser extent racism and other forms of scapegoating - by David Cameron and the Tories, as an opportunistic response to political and economic tensions in Europe.

8. Social unrest in China will grow considerably, including workers' militancy, but not to such an extent that justifies talk of a Chinese Spring or comparisons with Egypt.

9. There will be an increase in anti-austerity protests, mass strikes and riots in many European countries, in the context of a deepening crisis for the Eurozone. Portugal, Italy and Spain will be particular flashpoints.

10. There will be a very welcome, though tentative, increase in co-ordination by left-wing anti-cuts activists in the UK, with a much sharper polarisation between broadly left-wing elements and, on the other hand, Labour, TUC and moderate union leaders. These latter elements will fail to take any major initiatives - there'll be no repeat of 26 March - but the more radical parts of the movement will become more coherent and powerful.

11. There will not be a repeat of last summer's riots in the UK.

12. There will be a growth in anti-sexism protests in the UK, US and a number of other Western countries, building on the short-lived Slutwalk phenomenon last year, and overwhelmingly led by young women.

13. Those of us who are republicans will be just as marginalised as we were in 2011, with the diamond jubilee being as great a popular success as the royal wedding last April. Support for the monarchy will be more solid and secure than for a very long time.

14. There will be further protests in Russia, some of them bigger than those witnessed recently, and to some extent this will spread to a number of former Soviet republics.

15. North Korea will begin, however cautiously, to increase diplomacy with the US and other countries.

16. Boris Johnson will be re-elected Mayor of London by a significant margin.

17. The Tories will get a small boost in opinion polls from the Olympics - which will be widely regarded as a great success - but this will have been completely obliterated by October.

18. The topic of class will - following the flurry of mainstream media discussion prompted by Owen Jones' 'Chavs' in 2011 - make a full-blown comeback as a repsectable subject for discussion and commentary, although most commentators will naturally get things wrong.

19. In Scotland, Alex Salmond will confirm the timetable for an indpendence referendum, against the backdrop of opinion polls consistently indicating more support for independence than for retaining the union. We will be another step closer to an independent Scotland and the break-up of the UK.

20. The revolutionary left as a whole, here in the UK and internationally, will be the same size at the end of 2012 as it is now.



  1. Yes, things are heating up. I like to listen to the guy from his forecasts are insanly accurate and was able to make a killing last year on gold. He is worth a look if you want to protect yourself. Not many people will be ready for what is coming. 2012 is gunna be a big year, I can just feel it.

  2. Yes to most of this, unfortunately. 16 might be tighter than you think, could even swing the other way. 20 - revolutionary Left will be bigger internationally but same size here. 5 - suspect the unions that reject the current deal will hold out beyond February, as the govt will not make any quick concessions leading to a war of attrition, which is never quick. If 3 goes through it ought to provoke considerable introspection from opponents - and let this failure be inscribed on John Healey's grave.

    Most significant is 9 - just takes one Eurozone country to break ranks and thing collapses.

  3. To be honest, I'm really unsure about 16 - living in Tyneside I'm not exactly a specialist on London politics. I hope it does swing the other way! My prediction is based on 2 things: previous polls suggesting Johnson has a clear lead, and a hunch that the build up to Olympics will very slightly benefit Boris Johnson. But, really, I'm just not sure.

    You might be right about 20, but the problems of revolutionary left here are near-identical elsewhere unfortunately. On 5 (the pensions issue), developments in last few days may indicate a longer struggle, but I always say 'never underestimate union leaders' capacity for selling you out'. But it's still all to play for. As for 9 being the most significant, I agree - both the crisis and potentially the resistance are likely to pretty much define the year.

  4. My suggestion for no 21 is;
    "In 2012 the British left will fail to exploit the vulnerability of American imperialism is in a changing middle east and in Israel/ Palestine. They (the left) will campaign intermittently during crises like Operation Cast Lead but will fail to mount a sustained campaign, thus letting America and Israel off the hook".

    I'm sceptical about No.4. I don't think Western powers will intervene in Syria. It is not in Israel's interests for Assad to be toppled, and there is no oil. However Israel and America will continue to mount covert operations in Iran, but will stop short of an invasion which could have unpredictable consequences for America.
    No. 20 is unduly pessimistic and doesn't hang together with the more upbeat prediction in No. 9. If we cant grow during the most serious crisis of capitalism we might as well give up. My guess is that the left will grow, but will fritter the opportunity away in the long term. This will not be because there are no prospects for building a sustainable mass movement, but because the left is too demoralised and too ideologically hidebound to grasp the greatest opportunity for a century.