So….what’s going to happen in 2012? I thought I’d try my hand at crystal-ball gazing.
At least some of the following predictions may be no more informed than those of the next pub bore, so feel free to agree or disagree in the comments threads. Also feel free to add your own predictions. In December 2012 I may well dig up this thread and find out whether these forecasts were accurate or not.
Health and Social Care
It’s not going to take a Nostradamus to work out that this is going to be a very tough year for our increasingly overstretched public services. Services are going to disappear and people are going to suffer, and no amount of mouthwash about “efficiency savings” or “doing more with less” is going to hide that.
I think there’ll be more scandals in 2012. More Baby Ps, more elderly patients dying in their own filth on hospital wards, more suicides due to mental health services not being available. There’ll be outraged headlines about “too posh to wash nurses”, “clueless social workers”. Andrew Lansley and Eric Pickles will appear on Newsnight to announce they’ll be demanding that services sort out their act, before continuing to cut back those services to the bone.
A further set of public sector cuts may get announced, particularly if the economy goes back into recession.
I wouldn’t be at all surprised to see a repeat of the August riots, probably due to some unexpected hair-trigger. The social conditions haven’t changed since last time, and if anything are likely to deteriorate. It may become a regular fixture in the calendar – kind of like the January sales, except where nobody’s paying.
My guess is that police tactics will change. They’re aware that they got caught hopping the first time, and will be keen not to be stung twice. I don’t know if that’ll mean plastic bullets and water cannons, but I strongly suspect they’ll up the ante much more quickly.
Vulnerable adults are likely to be more at risk, particularly as the government hacks away at the benefits system. My worry is that we may see actual starvation or people taking their own lives out of desperation.
On a more positive note, I do wonder whether the crisis may spur some people into action – perhaps using social media to rally people to help out those in desperate need. In the August riots people used Twitter to organise themselves into clean-up squads, and it’s possible we may see more of that sort of spontaneous social concern, with online communities helping out the actual community.
The line between “old” and “new” media will be increasingly blurred. The newspaper industry will continue to suffer and more titles will go out of print, to be replaced by the ever-growing army of bloggers and tweeters. People will lament the “death of journalism”, but that’s not really what’s happening. The exchange of news, ideas, knowledge and opinions has never been healthier; the only difficulty is making money out of it. Journalism will increasingly be an act of citizenship rather than something people do for a living. For some reason I’ve still yet to fathom, people will continue to insist that this is a bad thing.
No doubt the Louis Walsh/Simon Cowell karaoke extravangzas will carry on 2012, but here’s an interesting question. The hardships of the 1970s spawned the Clash and the Specials. What will the current austerity do for music, art and literature? There’s a lot of unemployed young people out there, a lot of them are university-educated, and some of them will want to use their involuntary free time for something more creative than chucking a brick through a HMV shop front.
The End of the World
As we know, the world is supposed to come to a halt on December 21st. I’ll go out on a limb here and say that nothing is going to happen. I’m sure a few fringe religious cults and New Age flakes will get very excited, but for the rest of us there’ll just be lots of ironic end-of-the-world parties on December 20th. Possibly with some sarcastic viewing of the utterly risible movie 2012.
That said, if I’m wrong and the Mayan prophecies were true, then I’ll be emulating Woody Harrelson in the movie and live-tweeting the exploding super-volcanoes.