Monday, 1 January 2007

Happy New Year

2007 has the potential of being a significant year in history.

It doesn’t take a crystal ball to see, during the year the UK will get a new Prime Minister. Tony Blair will probably resign between May and July. And unless a totally unforeseen event occurs Gordon Brown will take over. Although he is seen as the natural successor, he has a number of challenges that might find him wanting.

Brown will have to establish himself as the Leader of New Labour. The Blairits are not going to welcome him with open arms. And to date he has shown himself to be not a team player. His normal, nay his only tactic is bullying, and if that fails sulking. Unless he can become a leader, his tenure will be short lived.

He will also have to establish a connection with the Electorate. Opinion polls indicate the British public see Brown as a dour grumpy Scotsman. Like Ted Heath before him, he is incapable of creating a sense of warmth and understanding. He might be able to win the minds of the electorate but fail to win their hearts.

All eyes will be on the Gordon Brown / David Cameron duel. It is there for Brown to win and Cameron to loose. By that I mean David Cameron has the advantage, as long as he doesn’t do anything stupid, he will be seen to be a charismatic leader, in contrast to Brown's coldness.

The Government will have two objectives to pass laws: to extending to 90 days the period the police can detain a suspect without charging them; and the compulsory carrying of Identification Cards. To achieve the latter, will require a shift in public opinion. This will be achieved by the explotation of fear. Muslims will continue to be demonised as a group to be feared. There will be high profile anti-terrorist exercises, possibly involving the closing or disruption of airports. And they will say:

“If we have ID cards, we would be so much safer, and there wouldn’t be these disruptions”.

If by the end of the year, opinion polls show a consistent swing towards the Conservative Party, New Labour might panic and call an early election - its better to win with a much reduced majority, than wait and loose power.

2007 will be seen as the key year for the Middle East. Either as the year a start was made to establish peace between Israel and its neighbours, or tragically as the year of missed opportunities when the region fell into a deeper state of chaos and aggression. The Civil War in Iraq will get bloodier with no sense of hope. Unfortunately Bush neither has the intellect nor the leadership qualities to influence events. The challenge for him will be either to find a way of withdrawing US troops, or diverting US public attention from the US troops death toll. To divert attention, US could increase the pressure on Iran.

Unfortunately in the USA efforts will not be directed at getting Bush to take leadership, rather politicians will be positioning themselves in preparation to the 2008 Presidential Elections.

In Europe, Russia will continue to flex its “power” muscles. It will use the threat of cutting off gas supplies to blackmail other Countries either to comply with its will or to turn a blind eye to its continued abuse of human rights.

In Asia, China and India will continue, at an accelerated rate, to expand their industrial and technical might. Tension will also increase between the two countries as the competition for energy resources intensifies.

On the sporting front. There will be two World Cups competitions. In September & October the Rugby World Cup will be held in France, which will be won by New Zealand, with Australia or South Africa as the loosing finalists. The ICC Cricket World Cup will be held in the West Indies in March / April. While Australia is the undisputed Champions of the 5 day Test Match game; it is not so dominant in the one day format. Chance plays its part in influencing the results of one day matches, so predicting the ultimate winner of the Cup is not easy. One thing is certain; England will not participate in the final.

Final prediction, it will be a long hot summer.
It will rain in London on Saturday 21st July and Sunday 12th August.

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