2017 was a year that started with the broad coalition of liberals, socialists, and social democrats in the doldrums. Theresa May was surging in her bid to lead the Tories from a place of anti-immigration, pro-austerity, social conservatism. We looked set for the hardest possible Brexit as a result. Labour seemed moribund and the snap election was called precisely to kill them off for good.
As we know, history and the voters had other plans. 48% may not have been the majority needed in the referendum, but when May spent her first year in office actively denying the wishes of nearly half the country, it was the height of presumptuous foolishness to ask them to reward her for it at the ballot box.
Politics continues to be febrile. No one knows what will happen and all sides are now aware that every inch of political terrain will need to be fought over. But the vast lazy, overweening arrogance of the Brexit right and the positive policies in the Labour’s manifesto that struck a chord means those who want a more open, tolerant, caring society now have more hope than they thought possible at the start of the year.
It’s that hope giving them something to fight for.
Tiernan Douieb, host of the Partly Political Broadcast podcast, which returns on January 16th. His latest filmed stand-up special ‘Miserably Happy’ is available in early 2018, tweets at @TiernanDouieb
As 2017 comes to a close, I’ve been looking back at the year in the way the last person alive in a horror film occasionally checks over their shoulder while running at full pelt to see if the crazed killer is still behind them. 2017’s political news was so regularly terrifying that in October I thought about going to Halloween parties just dressed as a BBC tweet that said ‘Breaking News’. There was one week in the summer where thanks to day-glo Cartman President Donald Trump, the threat of nuclear war was only knocked from the top headline spot because of a Nazi march and I had a bizarre realisation that maybe all the Indiana Jones films were instruction guides for survival all along. As the clock strikes midnight on December 31st Auld Lang’s Syne should probably be replaced with Elton John’s I’m Still Standing.
For me, UK politics in 2017 was a year long version of that moment when, as a child, you finally realised your parents were just winging their way through life as well. I had foolishly assumed that whether I liked them or not, people in government were there because they knew how to do their job but the last 12 months alone have included the decision to hold a snap election that then lost them more seats than a bad IKEA intern, Brexit talks that have mimicked that track Paula Abdul did with a cartoon cat, an offensive defence secretary, an international development secretary who had to resign in order to spend less time on holiday, Boris Johnson sadly continuing to be Boris Johnson and all of that and more culminating in an assurance that everything is fine because now our passports will be blue to match the depression everyone will have in 2018.
If 2017 was the hangover from 2016, then 2018 should be the recovery but I think it’s sadly clear we all went for the hair of the dog option. But I’m an optimist so I think we have some things to look forward to. For a start, judging by the past year the UK will forge a number of deals with EU countries by pledging to export our new strengths of political farce and aggressive guides on ‘how not to run a country’. The DExEU did manage to make it to Phase 2 of the talks so hopefully, like the second phase Marvel Cinematic Universe the whole ordeal might be saved by a talking racoon and a giant tree man. Theresa May will continue to cling on as prime minister until June when Boris changes his name by deed poll to None Oftheabove and succeeds her by default. Jeremy Corbyn will gain more power, though largely by adding solar panels to his roof. Donald Trump’s visit in February will go ahead with the government insisting it’s useful to be able to meet with America and Russia at the same time. Oh and on May 19th there is the royal wedding so at least we know there’ll be 24 hours of news we can ignore and get some rest. Hooray!