It’s that time when everyone’s writing retrospectives of the dying year, and looking forward to the next one. What 2014 will mean for the Tories, why Labour had a good year in 2013, will Abbey Clancey run for office in the European elections, etc, etc. So I thought I’d join in. But I’m a boring sort of person, so it’ll be boring predictions, I’m afraid.
1) Russell Brand will not lead an anarcho-socialist revolution
In case you were worrying. “Cor blimey strike a light, the paradigm of the hegemony of the capitalist oppressor over the proletariat is at an end, and no mistake,” said Russell earlier this year (I paraphrase), demanding that the young people really stick it to the old by not voting in elections and thus having no say in the future of the country. But he also said, on Newsnight, that “There’s going to be a revolution. This is the end. I haven’t got a flicker of doubt.”
Here’s my prediction: there won’t be. Or at least nothing worthy of the name “revolution”. What might happen is that some new youth politics movement begins, or something, and people say “it’s a revolution of ideas, man”, and honour is satisfied. But there won’t be a revolution of blood, flags and barricades. Because people don’t care that much, and that’s broadly a good thing.
What definitely will happen is that Russell Brand will continue to get paid quite large sums of money for writing impenetrable 4,000-word pieces for The Guardian and the New Statesman, in which he explains that profit is a dirty word but “winkie” is not.
2) Muslims will not take over the country
By the end of 2014, there might be somewhat more Muslims in this country than there are now. This will make almost no difference to anybody’s lives but will attract much furious attention. The year after that, there’ll probably be slightly more again, but the rate of growth will be slowing, as the Muslim population’s birth rate gets closer to that of the wider population, as it consistently has everywhere.
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3) Britain will not suffer a crippling terror attack
This is a more dangerous prediction; there might, of course, be some terrible event. But terror in the Western world is wonderfully rare. Your risk of dying in a terror attack is comparable to your risk of dying in a toaster accident. What will happen, though, is that our civil liberties will continue to be quietly curtailed because of the threat of terrorism. And our judgment of risk will not get any better.
4) The world will get a bit warmer, probably
And one group of people will say that it’s not getting warmer and it’s all a con, while another group of people will say that every hurricane is a direct result of global warming. Very few people will say “it’s very complicated and we don’t entirely know what’s going to happen or exactly what to do about it, but there’s a fairly high chance it won’t be very good for people”. People should say that more.
5) There won’t be a war with China
Or Russia. Or anywhere else big enough to fight back. Also, China will not become the biggest economic power in the world, and America will not collapse under its terrifying new socialist universal healthcare system.
6) Gay people will get married
In a shocking development, straight couples will remain married.
7) Things will basically be the same at the end of 2014 as they are now
Sure, there’ll be a new iPad or something. But things will be basically the same. In politics, poll numbers will wobble up and down a bit essentially at random, and pundits will use those largely random movements to create narratives. In sport, some teams will do better and some will do worse, and pundits will use those largely random movements to create narratives. In finance, some numbers will go up and some will go down essentially at random, and pundits will use those largely random numbers to create narratives. And then, at the end of the year, we’ll all write big things about those narratives and how Britain has changed and what more shocking changes we can expect in 2015. But largely speaking, Britain will be pretty much the same place it is now, because as a whole things change pretty slowly (and, generally, on average, with many local reversals, they tend to get better). Yes, I know it’s boring, but there we go.