2011, as we are constantly being reminded, will probably go down in history as one of the most news heavy years ever; the cameras stumbled from uprisings, to riots, to a global protest movement. From the deaths of some of the world’s most hated figures, to the virtual collapse of some of the strongest economies. Cliched as it sounds, it felt like a year when the world changed.
Who knows what next year might have in store? It’s not just the Mayans who have frighteningly apocalyptic predictions for 2012, there seems to be a general consensus that economies will suffer, the climate will continue to change for the worse and riots and unrest will carry on.
It’s a gloomy outlook. If you’re making a list of things you hope for in 2012, perhaps the world still being here next year in 2013 should be near the top. But aside from that, there are some things I still want from the year ahead:
1. No war in Iran. With tension rising between the West and Tehran, the political situation seems almost parallel to that of 2003. Perhaps this time around, the US and Britain are simply too cash strapped to consider invading another country. Perhaps with China watching, they would be a bit more cautious about acting alone. Perhaps without George Bush and his gang of war mongers in the White House, the appetite just isn’t there. We can only hope so. But the drums that were beaten in 2003 to legitimise our entry into Iraq have started up again.
2. A few more jobs. The areas in London which suffered worst from the riots last year were those with the highest unemployment. Argue all you want about the causes for the unrest (and there were many), but I don’t think that correlation can be written off as a coincidence. With unemployment hitting a 17-year high in November, you worry about what might happen in 2012. There are a generation of young people, some highly skilled, some graduates, some school leavers, who have literally no chance of getting a job. My wish is that the government does something, and spends some state money to create jobs. It doesn’t take an economics genius to tell you that is actually a way out of recession. But with the government solely focused on bringing down the deficit, I think this wish might go unanswered.
3. To still have the Human Rights Act 1998 in force this time next year. David Cameron hates it. The tabloid media hate it. A lot of judges hate it. The police can’t stand it. But blinkered and contradictory as it can sometimes seem, the Human Rights Act, backed up by the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg, is literally the only meaningful protection of individual rights we have in this country. Cameron plans to replace it with a ‘British Bill of Rights’. God help us.
4. The Syrian and Bahrain governments to fall. Just after Mubarak was chased out of Egypt, when Tunisia was rejoicing the end of decades of dictatorship, it seemed like nothing could stop the democracy movement in the Middle East. But then came the brutal backlash from the governments, with massacres of demonstrators in many states in the region. Libya rapidly entered a civil war. But in Syria and Bahrain, the protest movement remained a protest movement, even as they were wiped out by troops from their government and Saudi Arabia. No one can tell what will happen now in the Middle East, whether Egypt will ever get a true democracy or whether Libya can sustain peace. But if we could ask for just one thing, it would be that the people who died in the streets of Syria and Bahrain get their wish, and those governments are the next to fall.
Do similar wishes feature on your list for 2012? Use the comments box to share your hopes for the year ahead.by