Your forecasts for 2012: what has come to pass so far, and what hasn’t
by Harris MacLeod in Politics Lab
Wed August 22, 3:59 p.m. BST
More than two-thirds of the way through 2012, it is safe to say it has been an eventful year so far.
From the pageantry of the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee celebrations, to the excitement of the London 2012 Olympic Games, people all over Britain have had plenty to celebrate in 2012.
There are still more than four months of 2012 to go, which we know will include the London 2012 Paralympic Games, set to begin August 29th, and November’s US presidential election.
Back in December 2011, we asked for your forecasts for how events in Britain and round the world would shape up in 2012.
The top three subjects our participants elected to give their projections for were:
- The UK’s coalition government
- The UK economy
- The European Union and the Eurozone
Those of you who told us your forecasts for the UK’s coalition government in 2012 have been fairly accurate in your predictions to date.
- You said there would be stormy seas ahead for the Conservative-Liberal Democrat partnership, and yet would likely hold together through the changing seasons.
- Individuals taking part in Labs forecast tensions within the government over the EU, Lords reform, and debt-reduction, with both leaders facing pressure from their backbench MPs, and grassroots campaigners. While the stark divide between the pro-EU Liberals and the more sceptical Tories is well-known, in 2012, tensions over Britain’s membership in the EU has arisen not between the two coalition partners (as predicted by several panellists) but within the Tory party. Lords reform did turn out to be a major flashpoint between the two parties, with Cameron withdrawing his support for the Lib Dem initiative, and Nick Clegg removing his backing for boundary reform in retaliation. Somewhat surprisingly, there have not been any public rows over the government’s debt reduction plan, which lies at the heart of its economic policy.
- Others said they were banking on the government’s popularity with the public declining over the course of the year – citing the state of the economy as the cause. This forecast has proved the case thus far, with the UK’s growth forecast being downgraded several times over the course of the year, and the opposition Labour Party consistently outpolling its rivals in government.
- One panellist predicted that Business Secretary Vice Cable would “undermine” Nick Clegg’s leadership. Another panellist forecast meanwhile that Cable and Chris Huhne would commit several “gaffes”, and that there would be two “embarrassing” resignations during the year. Vince Cable is seen to have had a fairly good year so far, however, which could be what led him to recently declare he would consider running for the leadership of the Lib Dems. Meanwhile Chris Huhne, who was once also seen as a leadership contender, since the turn of the year, has resigned from his post as energy sector over accusations (which he denies) that his now ex-wife illegally assumed his speeding points in 2003.
Participants’ economic forecasts have also proved accurate in their pessimism, in the ninth month of the year.
- Most of you taking part speculated that the economy would be in a similar state to the end of 2011, but marginally worse. This has so far proved true. According to the Office for National Statistics, the UK economy grew by 0.8% in 2011. While more robust growth was originally predicted for 2012, the Bank of England recently announced that it expected growth to flat-line in 2012.
- Some panellists predicted the economy might get a “bump” from the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee celebrations, and the London 2012 Olympic Games. In actuality, it seems the extra day off for the Diamond Jubilee actually hurt the economy slightly, while the Governor of the Bank of England has warned that any economic benefit from the Olympics will be negligible.
- A few panellists said they thought the Chancellor, George Osborne, would likely to stick to his ‘Plan A’ of reducing the deficit through public sector cuts, which they thought would protect Britain’s AAA credit rating, but starve the economy. And true to our participants’ word, there are signs the government is trying to think of innovative and low-cost ways to boost economic growth, but the Chancellor has not deviated from the course of austerity in any significant way.
On the European Union and Eurozone, those who participated in the discussion were roughly evenly divided between those who predicted its demise, and those who thought it would survive.
- Many predicted that the EU would live on as a shadow of its former self, possibly with several countries exiting and a “two speed” Eurozone being established. Although this possibility featured in discussions earlier in the Eurozone crisis (and could still come to pass), at the time of writing the EU, Eurozone, and single currency, all retain their same member nations.
- Other participants were correct in some of their more general predictions about the situation in Europe, for instance that “internal divisions” would continue, and that “moves to a closer political and fiscal union” would get underway.
Click on the headings below to read more panellists’ quotes and predictions, representing the length and breadth of views put forward in Labs:
What do you think has been the most important event of 2012 so far?
And what do you think will be the major event that happens in the remaining months of this year?