Name that year

It was a tumultuous political time. The Conservative British Prime Minister wanted to consolidate their authority and called a snap General Election. The signs had looked good for an increased majority, but in a surprising result, they actually lost their majority and were forced to enter coalition talks with a minor party.

Meanwhile, across the Channel, it was a rare year in which a British General Election coincided with a French Presidential one. This election saw a centrist former Economy Minister win the election, and then go on to turn the movement that had won him the presidency into a full-fledged party of the political centre.

The year, of course, was 1974 with Edward Heath’s snap election losing him his majority and being forced into ultimately unsuccessful talks with the Liberals, while in France Valery Giscard D’Estaing became President and turned his Independent Republicans movement into the Union for French Democracy.

The year went on to have a second general election in the UK, and also saw the first ever resignation of a US President after a scandal about obstruction of justice grew to a point where he was likely to be impeached and removed from office.

All this, of course, bears no resemblance to anything that has happened in 2017.

My best prediction for 2016 was not predicting anything

Back in January, I explained why I wasn’t going to try and predict what happened politically in 2016 because things were just so chaotic as to make predictions pointless:

My only prediction is that all your predictions will be wrong.

Of course, my grounds for predicting that weren’t entirely right, ascribing unpredictability to just the EU referendum and Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership of the Labour Party, and entirely failing to mention Donald Trump.

It feels like we’re now in a period where politics is incredibly febrile and chaotic and the sort of certainties we base our predictions on are washed away as soon as we seek to put any of our weight upon them. For instance, it’s entirely possible that by the end of 2017 Justin Trudeau could be the longest-serving national leader in the G7: Obama and Hollande are leaving office, Merkel faces a tricky election and Abe has lasted a lot longer in office than most Japanese Prime Ministers have managed.

Trying to predict the politics of 2017 in an atmosphere like this is pointless, there are just too many wildly fluctuating variables that can throw even the simplest and most obvious prediction way out of the realms of possibility. Besides, for all we know, this time next year we could be scraping through the ruins of a post-apocalyptic wasteland, far more concerned about surviving than wondering just who predicted the date and cause of the apocalypse most accurately (though for the sake of completeness: 19th August, and a viral tweet about the crispiness of bacon).

Aside from that, it’s another year of my only prediction being that all your predictions will be wrong. Though please do give me credit for predicting the Bacopocalypse when it comes.