Monday, 31 December 2007

Looking Ahead to 2008

We've made it almost all of the way through 2007 now (in fact in some parts of the world it is already 2008). 2007 has brought us the departure of Tony Blair, the arrival of another new Lib Dem leader. Climate change went mainstream, Facebook was everywhere, but participation television hit the rocks. What will next year bring?

Politically, the topic that will almost certainly dominate discussion throughout 2008 is that of who will succeed George W Bush and become the 44th president of the United States. The primaries start next month, and we have a whole year of vicious, muck-raking politicking from across the Atlantic to look forward to. Meanwhile, over here we're likely to be stuck with the Clunking Fist for the year's entirety.

Outside of the political realm, I don't anticipate much else other than the continuation of trends that have already begun. The economic downturn may become more pronounced, but for a number of reasons including the aforementioned US election, I think a real crisis in 2008 is unlikely.

Apart from the broad sweeps above, I don't see a lot of point in attempting to make predictions for the coming year. Instead, in an attempt to finish out this one on an optimistic note, I'm instead going to finish out this post with some hopes for 2008.

  • That a Democratic candidate wins the US presidency fairly and squarely, with as little rumour and scandal about electoral practice as possible, in the election on November 4. As for which candidate, I prefer Barack Obama to the other two plausible candidacy winners, despite some of his more hawkish foreign policy statements.

  • That honest debate about British participation in the European Union begins to take place. The Lisbon reform treaty was signed by Gordon Brown without the promised referendum and almost certainly against the wishes of the British people in December 2007. I hope that the PM will be made to justify and defend this decision in the coming year, rather than it being allowed to slip into the darker reaches of the public's memory.
    Encouraging news today: David Cameron has indicated he would 'consider' holding a post-ratification referendum on the Treaty (Telegraph)

  • That the importance of data security comes to the forefront, both in discussion and in practice. The year-on-year increase in the use of the previously unthinkable data storage and manipulation capabilities of modern-day computers isn't something that's going to cease anytime soon. So I hope that the people in charge of these systems begin to listen to the experts and put into practice their recommendations, rather than treating them as opponents for expressing their disapproval. Failing that, I hope those same experts, and campaigners such as Henry Porter continue to keep the issue in the public eye.

  • That the realisation that freedom of choice and freedom of expression are not God-given, and that liberties once lost are much more difficult to regain, begins to dawn. Previously, those who seek to restrict these freedoms have too often been allowed to steal the moral high ground with spurious arguments and caricatures. I hope that in 2008 true liberals will be spurred on to an increasingly vocal opposition to these restrictions and their advocates.

  • That Newcastle United replace their highly disappointing manager, Sam Allardyce, with someone who can get the quality players that they have playing attack-minded football, scoring goals and wowing the crowd, rather than playing 4-5-1 against Wigan Athletic (and losing anyway)!

All the best for 2008 to all readers!

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