Review of 2022 | Will 2023 really be worse?

2022 ends with food prices are going up, despite the huge numbers of chickens coming home to roost.    

Anarchy in the UK

The Government still has a huge majority, but governs as if it were a minority government staggering from crisis to crisis.    No problem is ever solved, just moved off the front pages for long enough to give the Government some respite.

Sometimes there are inflection points in politics from which there is no real way back; the Winter of Discontent, Black Wednesday, the Credit Crunch.  A fundamental reset in voters attitudes. 

Partygate was such a turning point in British politics.

The British know deep down that we have a ruling class –  an elite of people who hoard wealth, power and privilege within their tight knit circle.  

And we know that our elite really aren’t very good – not especially talented or hard working, and that their wealth and power are due to inheritance rather than ability.

But we also know while they may be a bit hopeless they are not inclined to become autocrats like some of their European counterparts or loot the country to enrich themselves like their American cousins.   And in times of crisis our ruling elite would share our sacrifices – plenty of wealthy families lost their sons on the Somme or D-Day.

Not since the Edwardian era has such a narrow elite run the country as over the last 12 years. 

Partygate, and the revelations about PPE, have busted those myths.   The current elite who hold power have no intention of sharing our hardships, and hold our sacrifices in contempt.   They regard power and position as a way of filling their own and their mates pockets, rather the public service.  They have become oligarchs with more in common with the Russian authoritarian elite than their own citizens.  

And this isn’t even the end – the Commons inquiry into Boris misleading the House has yet to start work, with more revelations to come out. 

Red wall voters get a lot of stick, but they are, deep down, people who vote on values; hard work, doing the right thing, looking after your own, keeping your nose clean. They backed the Tories because they saw Boris was closer to those values than Corbyn, and they have been badly betrayed.   

Those voters are still suspicious of Starmer – towns and villages were I grew up have an instinctive mistrust of people like me and Kier who move away to Uni and get too big for their boots- but his positioning on issues like Brexit make him the most appealing offer Labour have had for these voters in a very long time.

The Red Wall Tories in County Durham look doomed,  Dehanna Davison, the 3rd rate Thatcher tribute band who won Bishop Aukland isn’t going to stand again.  Richard Holden from North West Durham has lost his seats due to boundary changes,    Paul Howell in Sedgefield only won his seat after the local Labour Party was taken over by petulant Corbyn fans, who alienated Labour members and voters,   With Corbyn gone and his smug middle class acolytes in the wilderness his will be an easy win for Labour.   I suspect that Red Wall Tories across the North and Midlands are in similar position. 

I predicted a year ago that Boris Johnson would struggle to survive another 12 months and I was right, the Tories did get rid of him, and replaced him with an orthodox ideological Conservative.   I didn’t predict that that Liz Truss would be the shortest ever British PM, managing to crash the UK economy during her period in charge, but even I didn’t think things would get that crazy.

My actual predictions of economic chaos fell a little bit short of the mark!

“The UK is still likely to face serious pressure due to trade imbalances – whether this ends up with an inflation crisis or a Black Wednesday is uncertain but further serious economic problems are guaranteed”

Partygate alone probably have been enough to stop the Tories winning a majority next time round, but the rise of Truss, the catastrophic budget, and a long hard winter have damaged them just as much as Partygate.   Voters will worry that left to their own devices the Tories will put another weirdo like Truss in power, which makes it hard to trust them. 

Both Labour and Lib Dems look like beneficiaries of this, and an informal LibLab pact has advanced as I predicted, partly by parties focusing their efforts in particular seats, but also because voters have backed however looked the best anti-Tory option. 

For a while this year it looked as though Labour might split.   Sam Tarry was deselected, just as I predicted, and Corbyn is permanently out in the cold.    Mick Lynch, the high profile leader of the RMT Union has spent lots of his member’s money over the years funding no hope left wing candidates against Labour, and he is still the most likely source of funding behind an anti-Labour party.   Apsana Begum is likely to follow Tarry in being deselected, although she will more likely end up joining Luftar Rahman’s Aspire Party.   

Instead for the year ahead it is the Conservatives who look most likely to split.   

Even if the Tories can claw back some of Labours lead there are an awful lot of Tory MPs at the end of their careers facing being booted out of Parliament.   At the same time the Reform Party will have lots of resources to dangle in front of Tory MPs who want to switch.  If the May Local Elections go badly (and they almost certainly will) I expect some of the ERG group to either resign the Tory Whip or join Reform.


I predicted that the NHS would be a key political issue and sadly I was right.   The current, existential, workforce crisis has exploded into strikes and an outright confrontation between NHS staff unions and the Government

This is a crisis that has been coming for years and which the Government failed to prepare for.   It is also a fight that the Government cannot win, and the only question is how much damage the Government will suffer before they back down. 

This current winter crisis in the NHS alone would be enough to destroy a Government.   Coming on the heels of Partygate and the Truss Premiership unless the Conservatives can get a grip on the NHS immediately they risk permanent political damage.  

This doesn’t just mean ending the strikes, but finding ways to cut the current waiting times for GPs and A&Es.  Right now over 10% of the UK population is on an NHS waiting list, and by the next General Election that will be over 20%.  

These numbers are unsustainable, and every day the Government fails to deal with them they will pay a massive political price.

There is a popular meme among left wingers on social media to the effect that the NHS will exist as long as there are people who will fight for it.   The quote by Bevin is fake, and the sentiment is nonsense. 

The NHS exists because staff believe in it – clinical staff.   If Doctors, Nurses, and Therapists lose faith in the NHS it is finished, no matter how many speeches are made or memes are shared.  

The NHS has passed that point in some clinical services already – parts of Mental Health services have lost too many staff to better jobs in the private sector, and as a result the remaining NHS service are a disaster.   NHS Child and Adolescent Mental Health services no longer exist.   If you can’t pay to go private your kids won’t get treatment.  

It remains to be seen if these staff can ever be tempted back to the NHS again, or whether it will be like NHS dentistry in parts of the UK, a vanished service.

Other parts of the NHS haven’t seen such a rapid  switch of staff to the private sector, but only because private sector options are less well developed. Contrary to lots of stuff you might read on line the UK doesn’t have a large and predatory private healthcare system poised to take over the NHS.  It is more likely that staff will leave and set up their own services than a wholesale privatisation, a small, local drift away from the NHS rather than a big bang.  

Whether any party can rebuild staffing levels and morale to a sustainable level is doubtful, and there will continue to be lots of reasons for in-demand NHS staff to find other work.

What is true is that NHS won’t survive another Conservative Government.  Whether Labour can save it is not as certain.

Local Government

I realise that this is a niche interest but when the Tories got into power in 2010 they scrapped the Audit Commission, who checked on the use of government funds, and made sure that money was used wisely

This was revenge for the  Homes for Votes scandal when the Tory leadership of Westminister Council were given personal fines of £30m for rigging housing policies to favour Tory voters.   The Audit Commission exposed the scam, and were abolished in revenge.  

Since then there has been a massive deterioration in standards of managing public money – this isn’t an accident – this is the result of the Government removing key safeguards on how we spent public funds.  

Not only have we seen huge sums handed out to Ministers and their mates, but right now there are 3 local authorities facing bankruptcy, all Conservative, one of which has lost £138m in a dodgy investment with a property developer

There has been a deliberate attempt to water down the standards for managing public money

This is the consequence

At the same time the Government complains loudly in friendly newspapers about too many civil servants, at one point claiming they would cut 70,000 jobs while at the same time creating Government departments for Brexit Opportunities and levelling up


Brexit is still a mess, and the tide of public opinion has changed.  For years after the vote any criticism of Brexit was tightly restricted for fear of upsetting fractious leave voters.  Any voices of concern about the way Brexit was being handled were condemned as anti-democratic or “remonaners”.  Now the awfulness of Brexit, and Boris’s bodged deal are clear for all to see, and it’s not just remain voters who are angry about it.

Leave voters weren’t naive when the voted for Brexit.  They knew that there would be economic damage to deal with.   But they didn’t think that damage would hit them – they thought it would be confined to an amorphous mass of liberals, graduates, immigrants, and anyone else perceived as being too big for their boots and in need to taking down a peg or 2.

Instead the impacts are widespread and unavoidable

Brexit always meant different things to different groups of voters.  Some wanted a return to manufacturing industry, others to a free trade global Britain, some wanted Bennite socialism, others economic autarky.  

One by one those visions of Brexit shrivelled and died until only one was left – an elite vision of Britain as a deregulated, low tax, turbo-capitalist utopia, a vision that had been pushed extensively by think tanks and lobbyists with large budgets and secretive donors.

When Truss and Kwatteng announced to financial markets that this was their plan that dream died too.

What we are left with is Brexit without meaning, pointless, and endlessly damaging. No upside, just a long slow abrasion of economic advantage and national wealth.   

This elite vision of low tax, deregulated, small state has been the dominant ideology of modern Conservatism .   It is hard to see how anyone can seriously articulate that vision again after financial shit all over it so publicly.   We are still as a nation paying a premium on our national debt because of it – the “moron premium”. 

But without that vision Brexit, and the modern Conservative party are meaningless.   The fight for what comes next will split Conservativism inside and outside the Tory Party into 2 factions – big state paternalistic Johnsonism, and Faragist English nationalism.   I don’t really see how both can be accommodated, particularly if Farage returns to lead a new Reform party with millions to spend. 

Starmer has won over red wall voters by ruling out a return to the Single Market or Freedom of Movement, to the frustration of some Remain voters.   This is simply a statement of fact.  After Britain behaved so crassly over the negotiation of the withdrawal agreement and the trade deal there is no enthusiasm or political mandate in the EU to re-enter negotiations on better terms any time in the near future.   There is however quite a lot an incoming Government could do to adjust regulations and protocols to ease trade and reduce friction.   I would be shocked if Labour aren’t already having these discussions quietly with the EU. 

The question for the Tory party is if they can find the strength to abandon Brexit fantasies in order to embrace a genuine reality based politics.   I think they are probably a few years away from that.

The US

Trump has announced that he will run in 2024, but there is little enthusiasm for his campaign, particularly after the Republican’s poor showing in the mid-terms as I predicted.  

Trump gave his endorsement to some ridiculous candidates most of whom flamed out, including celebrity doctor Mehmet Oz in Pennsylvania; Tim Michels in Wisconsin; Adam Laxalt in Nevada; Blake Masters and Kari Lake in Arizona; and Herschel Walker in Georgia

The favourite candidate to stop Trump is Ron DeSantis, but there is a long track record of mediocre politicians being heavily promoted by the GOP only to wilt in the primarys.  Jeb Bush, Rick Santorum, Ron and Rand Paul.   De Santis is both boring and weird and unlikely to last the distance.

Lauren Boebert and Marjorie Taylor Green are mad as cheese, but will be popular candidates among the GOP base if Trump burns out.  Both could be good bets for VP picks.  

Given the huge gap between the MAGA fundamentalists and the rest of the Conservative right it is hard to predict anything other than chaos and civil war on the US right.   A civil war that could easily end with shots being fired in anger. 

Trump’s legal problems continue to mount.  The Trump Organisation was found guilty of tax fraud, with further charges against Trump and his family pending.  Investigators have found more classified documents in a storage unit near Mar-a-Lago. He also faces election fraud charges in Georgia, the House investigation into the January 6th Insurrection has recommended criminal referral to the justice department, whose special counsel is already building a criminal case against him.   This is before we get to the dozens of civil law suits including one for sexual assault.  

Even the Capos of US Conservatism have turned against him including the rightwing media tycoon Rupert Murdoch.

Trump does, however, still have a strong following among the Republican base, which is becoming increasingly radicalised and extreme.   This makes him hard to dislodge, but still an electoral liability. 

One of the things I failed to predict is that the Supreme Court would overturn Roe Vs Wade.  This pleased the Conservative base, but alienated the vast majority of Americans.   The Supreme Courts next steps will be to remove legal protections of voting, making it easier for Conservative hardliners to gerrymander and rig elections.

Biden will flirt with running, but is too old, and Kamala Harris will fight in out for the nomination with Gavin Newsome, Pete Butigeig and possibly John Fetterman.  

On thing is certain m- the US right no longer recognise the legitimacy of an election that is won by anyone other than a white conservative Christian.   And they will continue to attack US democracy to keep their hold on power. 

Conspiracy Theories

False claims of election fraud are a key overlap with the world of QAnon, and conspiracy theories still define too much civil and political discourse.   Through Elon Musk’s purchase of twitter the crazies on the right have a new hero, just as their old one, King Donald, wanes.  As always loneliness and desperation are among the main motivating factors.

As economic news from the real world gets grimmer conspiracy theory believers are increasingly indulging in financial magical thinking.    There has always been a cross over between conspiracy theorists/QAnon believers and crypto-currency fads, but increasingly the belief in a global financial reset in which all debts are forgiven is gaining lots of momentum on-line, normally using the acronyms GESARA/NESARA.   A lot of the content posted link to pretty obvious scams, such as the purchase of Zimbabwean Dollars.   The monetisation of gullibility will only increase, and feed more paranoia and mistrust as people lose their money.

Intwined in the strange world of right wing conspiracies is the claims of a crisis of free speech – that somehow the voices of particular groups- mostly conservative white men are being silenced by shadowy forces.  Musk feeds those anxieties, and he has allowed some prominent right wingers back onto twitter, including some who overlap with white nationalism.

I have always been of the belief that the crisis of free speech is nonsense.  Society continues to promote the voices of older, conservative, white men, just not much as it once did, and they have to compete with other, more diverse voices, for an audience. 


This time last year I predicted that Russia would try and extend it’s sphere of influence, with potentially violent results.   What I got wrong was that I thought it would be the Balkans were Russia would stir up conflict, which they continue to do in Serbia, Bosnia and Kosovo.  

I massively underestimated how violent and crazy Russia would get and that it would attack Ukraine. 

I haven’t changed my view that Putin is in a weak place – he has stripped away any checks and balances which limit his absolute power only to discover that he has stripped away the very things that stop his enemies getting rid of him.   The invasion of Ukraine was an act of reckless desperation, and his failure to make any gains at such a huge cost have left him much weaker

I don’t think there will be a coup to get rid of him just let, but instead a flow of wealth and talent out of the country, and a growing apathy towards keeping him in power.   HIs reliance on private militias like Wagner to fight for him is creating private armies that will sell their allegiance to the highest bidder. 

The last 12 years have been a golden era for Russian interference in British politics, and successive Tory PMs have benefitted from that. They have also refused to take steps to protect our democracy from Russian interference

If Labour get in that will all be over.   I expect that the next 2 years will see an unprecedented campaign by Russia to interfere to keep their power and influence with no efforts by the Government to stop them.  

What will happen next year

There are plenty of predictions already, but the final few are:

There is a very serious chance that we are heading for another wave of Covid cases following huge increase in cases in China.   We still aren’t quick enough to spot problems like this coming and dealing with them

Even without a new wave of Covid the NHS wills struggle to cope and horror stories about conditions in hospitals will fill the papers.   Those parts of the press still loyal to the Government will blame Doctors and Nurses, but only the most partisan readers will believe them

Opinion polls might narrow slightly but not enough to save the Tories from a thrashing in the May local elections.   This will be the moment when panic becomes widespread among Government backbenchers, and the return of Farage will only make that worse. Sunak is a lot more sensible than Johnson or Truss, and will try and steady the ship, but being sensible and competent didn’t stop Tory backbenchers from making a mockery of Theresa May

The new era of austerity will bring about a public sector financial crisis – some Government departments are already on the brink of a Child Support Agency style collapse.   HMRC look the most vulnerable to totally falling apart.   This will add to the sense among investors that the institutions that made the UK stable can no longer be trusted. 

The PPE scandal and subsequent cover-ups and court cases will become a major scandal. The next 2 years will be an era of Tory sleaze just like the 90s.

Russia will continue to lose the war in Ukraine, and at home Putin will look weaker and weaker – he can’t stop young people fleeing the country and the rise of private militias are a direct threat to his rule.   He will become more desperate and dangerous. 

Russia has spent the last decade or more cultivating power and influence with the Tory party. Putin will fight hard to keep Labour out of power, using lots of cash and disinformation to change the outcome of the next General Election, just like he did with the Brexit vote. The Government will have no incentive to stop him.

Elon Musk will continue to use Twitter to cheer on far right conspiracy theories, and will continue to lose money at an unprecedented rate. 2023 could see him lost more money than anyone individual has ever done in the history of business.

I do think that it is possible that the UK will avoid a recession, and that there could be some better economic news in 2023, but that depends on families and businesses getting the confidence to spend and invest. A period of sensible, serious Government is key to that, but I am not sure Tory backbenchers are in the mood for that.

One thought on “Review of 2022 | Will 2023 really be worse?

  1. Like most people, my Facebook feed consists mostly of friend and family, and like most people, family covers a fair range of political opinion. There’s one in-law in her 70s who can be relied to share anything pro-Brexit / pro our-boys / pro sending refugees back – so I was pretty surprised when she shared a Jonathan Pie video – the ‘just pay the f-ing nurses one’.

    24 hours later, the front page of the Express was calling on the health secretary to do a deal.

    Nurses are up there with bobbies on the beat and Tommies on the ground. The government can win a fight against teachers and doctors, as it can use culture war tactics against middle class professionals – but it’s not going to work with nursing.

    It’s also the part of the public sector that pension age Tory votes interact with most, and it’s clear to anyone who has been in a hospital they are understaffed,

    A brave politician will be the one who says ‘by joining the EU, we could boost our tax revenue by 350m a week and spend it on the NHS’

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