By the time you are reading this you will have survived 2016 and will be looking forward to something a bit better in 2017.
Last year was quite a year, where to begin? Maybe politics is a good start.
Following his success in the general election and negotiations for concessions from the EU, David Cameron called a “once-in-a-generation” referendum to decide whether we should ‘Remain’ or ‘Leave’ the European Union – and lost.
The leaflet sent to every home stated: “This is your decision. The Government will implement what you decide.” Unless somebody doesn’t agree with it of course.
Parliament has voted to trigger the mechanism for leaving (Article 50) by April, but unelected Supreme Court Judges could still make the process more tortuous, albeit Brexit will be inevitable.
David Cameron resigned and Theresa May emerged as our new Prime Minister. On the other side of the House, the Labour Party moved further to the left under the leadership of Jeremy Corbyn.
Elsewhere, UKIP members took to fisticuffs, leaders were appointed and resigned, and the main donor threatened to withdraw his funding.
Zac Goldsmith resigned his Conservative seat in Richmond to stand as an independent in protest against the proposed third runway at Heathrow. The LibDems fought the by-election on Brexit (they want a second referendum) and in a constituency where 70 per cent voted Remain, they won.
The SNP wants to leave the UK, where Scotland sells most of its stuff, and join the EU, where it doesn’t.
Things were no better on the other side of the pond. All of the polls were calling a win for Hillary Clinton, but she was either deeply unpopular in key swing states or there was a strong anti-government undercurrent. Probably both.
Is this the end of globalisation, the beginning of American isolationism, preparations for World War III, a major opportunity for wall builders?
Political decisions or the lack of political will have caused major conflicts, not least in Iraq and Syria. Obama’s pull out of Iraq allowed ISIS to flourish in the vacuum, and a lack of political will in Syria was one of the triggers for mass, mostly illegal, immigration to Europe. Some 4,500 men, women and children died as they attempted to cross the Mediterranean. Southern European countries could not cope with the influx and hard borders were erected.
Russia continued to flex her muscles and Putin took command of the situation in Syria. ISIS suffered military defeats, but hundreds of its fighters have returned to the UK and the current terrorism threat level is ‘severe’, only one away from ‘imminent’.
There were some good things though in 2016. We won 27 gold medals at the Olympics, the Queen celebrated her 90th birthday, the England Rugby team notched up 14 consecutive wins, Andy Murray won the Men’s Singles at Wimbledon and became World No. 1. There was another one for the Scots – England were beaten by Iceland.
We also said goodbye to national treasures Ronnie Corbett, Victoria Wood, David Bowie, Andrew Sachs, Robert Vaughn, Leonard Cohen, Jimmy Young, Gene Wilder, Paul Daniels, Sir Terry Wogan and the great Alan Rickman.
My predictions for 2017: There will be a run on Italian banks and more pressure on the Euro. Iran will cause an international crisis. There will be a civil war in Algeria, which will cause mass migration to Europe. And England will lose to someone like Iceland.
Maybe 2016 wasn’t too bad after all. Happy New Year!