Predicting 2008 - The Snow In The Summer or So-So

3 January 2008
Bang off target

Unlike most other prognosticators (with the very honourable exception of Steve Richards on The Sunday Programme), we insist on not only repeating our predictions for last year, but reviewing them for accuracy.

Last year's predictions

  1. Start with a feelgood story: William Windsor and Kate Middleton announce their engagement. No, but the brief split in the spring proved to be the couple's making. The backlash against Miss Middleton is going to be very interesting, if it arrives.
  2. The junta is forced to act over global warming, but December's Bali conference on global warming will end in acrimony. Indeed, the junta only acted because the conference was ending in acrimony.
  3. Mister Blair will announce his resignation within ten days of May's local elections. Neither he nor John Prescott will take a place in the new leader's cabinet. Yip.
  4. The new Labour leadership ticket will be Brown / Blears. Brown, obviously; Blears was soundly beaten by Froglet.
  5. No early election for Gordon, he'll ride out the goadings from Cameron. You read it here. No early election.
  6. The grass-roots campaign against multiculturalism in the UK will step up a gear, sparking racial disturbances in at least one town or city. Prime minister Brown (get used to it) will announce a headline-grabbing bill in the Throne Speech. This didn't happen, which is A Good Thing.
  7. Council funding becomes a hot topic as council tax rises ahead of inflation again. PM Brown will avoid acting. Again, this didn't happen.
  8. The British constitutional settlement will be much debated amongst the chattering classes. The Conservatives will make mutterings about returning power from Whitehall to local communities. The constitutional settlement was a hot topic, but in its Scottish dimension.
  9. French presidential elections go to the second round, where Royal beats Sarkozy by 4%. Er, we got the margin of victory right, but the winner wrong.
  10. Sr. Berlusconi avoids jail. So far, at least.
  11. Unrest continues in Iraq and Afghanistan, with no end in sight. Afghanistan is true, Iraq is, perhaps, arguable.
  12. Another general election in Canada sees the Liberals returned as the largest party. No election there.
  13. With the exception of Sudan, Africa continues to slip off the world agenda: this is positive news, for there are fewer conflicts to report. Modulo leadership changes in South Africa and Kenya, roughly so.
  14. Oil will finish the year around €40 per barrel. €64.32. Call it a miss.
  15. On to the fripperies. The cricket world cup will be won by Australia. England will finish in the bottom half of the eight-team stage. That was a banker.
  16. The rugby world cup will be won by New Zealand. England will lose in the quarter-finals; Ireland the only home nation to make the semis. No, no, and (er) no.
  17. Werder Bremen will win the UEFA Cup, defeating Newcastle en route. Chelsea will win the European League, but cede the Football League to Manchester Buccaneers. Schalke 04 will win the 1. Bundesliga. We got the Football League right; that was the easy one.
  18. The BC Lions will retain the Grey Cup. Saskatchewan won it, BC fell in the divisional final.
  19. Deal or No Deal has peaked; the ratings in early December next year will be below this year's 3.8 million. So.
  20. Television viewing will decline further, and the BARB measurement will not exceed 24 hours per person per week between 1 June and 27 October. If it had been a drier summer, this would be so; the average trickled six minutes over.
  21. Further tinkering with the singles tracks chart, to exclude oldies from the chart as played on Radio 1. Surprised to find this hasn't happened yet.
  22. Terry Wogan announces his retirement from Radio 2's breakfast show. No.
  23. Lizo leaves Newsround for a job with the big boys. Again, not happened, but it's a matter of time.
  24. Konnie Huq leaves Blue Peter for a job on Radio 5. Huqqie announced her departure, it's not clear what she does next.
  25. And the long-shot: ITV will enter into an arrangement short of merger with a European broadcaster. The BSB blocking stake prevented that.

Overall, not a successful set of predictions: eight were right or mostly right, three were as right as wrong, and 14 were mostly or entirely wrong. Only the rugby and oil ones seem complete stinkers in retrospect.

The new year

  1. Domestic politics. None of the three main parties will change their national leaders this year.
  2. That said, we can see pressure on Froglet and Wendy Alexander to go. They won't.
  3. The London mayoral election will be close, less than 5% between the two candidates following the second preference count. We'd put a small stake at large odds on the winner of the first ballot not winning after transfers.
  4. The London Assembly is more simple, Conservatives still the largest single party without an overall majority, and they'll have at least one Overhang seat. The BNP will take one seat.
  5. There's not too much left for Labour to lose at the local elections; they're defending seats won in 2004, when the party was at its lowest ebb, apart from councils along the M6. Stoke is the one to watch; as the Potteries go, so goes the party. We're not at all sure how things will go in the Welsh locals.
  6. Detention without trial for 42 days will not pass into law.
  7. The Lisbon Treaty will pass, and without a referendum in the UK.
  8. The identity register will become an obvious dead duck, but Labour will still be too stubborn to cancel it.
  9. There will be growing resentment over the increasingly rubbish state of the Royal Mail, and a clamour to reverse the market liberalisations of the past few years. These will come to naught.
  10. Economics. We're more pessimistic than most commentators. The UK economy will grow this year, but by less than 1%, and there will be at least one quarter where the economy is either in recession, or the signal is less than the statistical noise.
  11. Northern Rock will be taken into public ownership.
  12. UK consumer inflation will remain at around 3½%; this will be seen as a price worth paying for the growth record.
  13. Exchange rate to watch is the euro to the dollar: the current figure is USD 1.46 ≈ €1. This will go higher as the euro becomes a second reserve currency.
  14. That fact will depress the pound; it'll close the year slightly above USD2, but well below the long-term peg of €1.40. There will be increasingly audible calls for the UK to set a timetable to hitch itself to the winning single currency; it won't be adopted by Labour or the Conservatives.
  15. There will be increasing concern at foreign ownership of essential companies. The UK can't stop France from buying up her water companies, but will raise concern against the Russians and Chinese doing the same.
  16. International affairs. No significant progress in the Palestine problem.
  17. Pakistan will totter, but stop short of civil war.
  18. Iraq will move towards a Belgium-style looser federation, with the various ethnic groups taking their own part of the country. This will be very unpopular with the occupying forces, but they will not stop the progress.
  19. Red China will be roundly criticised over its human rights policies, and will quietly crack down on dissidents before the Crass Spectacle. This will be glossed over by the rest of the media, and no politician will mention Tibet.
  20. Serbia will grudgingly allow Kosova to declare her independence, playing a tough line in negotiations.
  21. Belgium will hold a further general election to preserve the country's unity, at which there will be explicit links between Flemish and French-speaking parties. It's not clear whether the country will split.
  22. Entertainment. Physical singles are as good as dead already, and will be phased out of most non-specialist stores during 2008; only HMV and independent retailers will stock them. Physical albums will still be the vast majority of that market.
  23. Pop bands will not learn from the failure of No Angels and the Spice Girls, and still reform, because touring is an easy way to make a quick buck.
  24. Fru Hazlitt is the new manager for the merged GWR / Capital group, and has tough decisions to make; predecessor Ralph Bernard has left the company in a parlous state. We can see an increased level of localness, stations being allowed to decide what order to play their records, but no significant reduction in networked hours. Her major changes won't take effect until 2009.
  25. DAB: We expect at least one (quite possibly both) of Core and Life to close, to be replaced by very similar stations from other operators. Oneword is almost certain to close by the end of January; we don't know what will take its place. Channel 4's multiplex will launch in June, but the most interesting stations - Channel 4 Radio and Pure4 - don't start until 2009.
  26. No major changes at BBC radio; it's too soon to reverse the errors on Radio 2's evenings, Radio 3's attitude can only change with the controller, and neither 1 nor 4 need the change. Wouldn't be surprised to hear that Wogan's leaving Radio 2 breakfast, or that Moyles will leave Radio 1; by the end of this year, Moyles will have overtaken Edmonds, and be only months behind Mayo and Read.
  27. Television: ITV won't be prosecuted over its 0898gate fraud. Nor will the BBC abolish its fatuous credit squeeze, not that we'll stop complaining about it. It's too early for Channel 4 to cut its ties to Endemol, though we may hear during 2008 that Deal or No Deal is to be closed.
  28. After News Corporation is forced to sell its blocking stake, ITV will be involved in a takeover bid by or for a European broadcaster.
  29. Sport. The Euro '08 final will be a repeat of a group game.
  30. Bayern München to beat Rangers en route to the UEFA Cup; Inter Milan will win the European League.
  31. Other stuff. William and Kate will announce their engagement this year, but don't buy your hats on their behalf until 2009.
  32. There will be plans for a national railcard: pay £35 per year, get a third off all off-peak trips costing more than a fiver. It won't be sold, perhaps until the start of 2010, but will be announced.
  33. Madeleine McCann will not be found, dead or alive, thus giving the Di-ly Express something to go on about after the inquest returns an accidental death verdict.
  34. Liverpool's year as City of Culture will be a tremendous flop, making Glasgow 1990 look like a rip-roaring success.
  35. And finally: JKR O'ling announces that she will be filling the story of What Harry Potter Did Before the Epilogue, to publish circa 2010.
  36. We'll look at our successes and failures in a year's time.

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