2015: A Year in Review

by Charlie_East_West on December 20, 2015

Asphalted road .Forward to the New Year 2015

As we reach the fag end days of 2015, it is time to over indulge, be merry and share some artery clogging treats with our loved ones. It is also a time to take stock and reflect on what has been a tumultuous and at times dispiritingly confusing year. Welcome to our Christmas circular review of the good, bad and ugly in 2015:-

If you had placed an accumulator bet in April of a Tory majority, Donald Trump to be leading the GOP polls, Jeremy Corbyn becoming Labour leader, Jose Mourinho sacked, Japan to beat South Africa in the Rugby World Cup, Leicester City to be top of the league at Christmas and Britain to win the Davis Cup, I wish you well in your new life as one of the 1% and subsequent new entry into the Sunday Times Rich List.

It has been a year full of surprises – some of which have been refreshingly heartening – hats off to the Japanese rugby team, Leicester City and Andy Murray. But, these pleasant surprises have come within the somewhat trivial domain of sport. The ugly surprises have come within the meatier domain of politics.

Sadly, the biggest jaw dropper came at 10pm on the May 7th and the BBC General Election exit poll. Almost all commentators (apart from the prophet of doom himself, Darth George East) predicted a hung parliament. Instead, up flashed that horrendous exit poll of a Tory majority. In fact, the exit poll was proved to be marginally incorrect. The Tories went on to get a slightly better majority (12) than the poll had predicted. Britain went to bed on the May 7th facing a sleepless night fretting about 5 more years of Tory rule.

The fall out of the election is still being felt. Labour have gone into a bizarre existential crisis that has torn the parliamentary party in half and with no short term fix remedy in sight. Jeremy Corbyn is the Labour leader. Wow. Predict that outcome a year ago, and your friends would have been expressing their concern over your judgement and state of mind.

The Lib Dems took the biggest hit on election night. The Tories moved like a Death Star right across the West Country and hovered up all of the traditional Lib Dem heartlands. The Lib Dems were left with a parliamentary rump of just 8 MPs. The coalition years may have given them a taste of power, but they spent five years swallowing political arsenic with the inevitable consequences to their health.

We now live in a political geography that is clearly divided. The SNP have wiped out the long term dominance of Labour in Scotland and are likely to repeat their success at the forthcoming Scottish elections. The Tories own the South of England (apart from London). Labour are left with a few shaky empires in the North of England, under the increasing threat from raids by UKIP.

Sadly, we are now having to face up to the prospect of a generational Tory government. With forthcoming boundary changes that will favour the Tories; Labour continuing to eat themselves; the decline of the Lib Dems and the locked in support for the SNP in Scotland, it is highly likely that the Tories will win again in 2020 – quite possibly with George Osborne as the next Prime Minister.

The Tories must be laughing their heads off. They have their majority and with huge media backing and very little credible opposition, they can now run amok destroying the social fabric of Britain. Public services are being trashed and thrown out to the highest bidder. Welfare is being destroyed, leaving the poor and vulnerable to survive on pittance. Our human rights are now under increasing threat and we have a Prime Minister that is tarting himself around the EU trying to sell us a pup on EU membership claw backs. Our dignified leader has also spent his time accusing his rivals of being terrorist sympathisers while we are all left wondering whether he previously stuck his penis into a pig. Gravitas personified.

Domestically, the situation looks bleak (endless Tory rule, austerity, lack of effective opposition). Internationally, the situation looks scary. The main theme of 2015 has been the heightened threat from ISIS and the heartbreaking refugee crisis which was encapsulated in one tragically iconic photo of a little refugee boy washed up on a beach.

Paris has been the tragic focal point of terrorism. This glorious city of lights has been savagely attacked by terrorists twice in one year and in the process, set the wheels in motion for yet another round of Western military intervention in the Middle East, with inevitable collateral damage to innocent civilians.

Since the Paris attacks, a nasty right wing media narrative has been framed around demonising Muslims and refugees as being collectively linked to terrorism. The rise of Islamophobia is a sinister form of agenda based propoganda that has been peddled by the likes of the Daily Mail, The Sun and GOP presidential candidate – Donald Trump – who, rather depressingly, has seen a spike in his poll ratings that may be as a result of his xenophobic rantings appealing to lowest common denominator within Tea Party ideology / Bible Belt ignorance.

It is not just the rise of Trump – ignorance is everywhere. The idiots are winning. We now live in a country where the latest grubby little tweet from Katie Hopkins receives more coverage than the retirement of the ever dignified James Naughtie from the Today Programme. In America, right wing commentators and the NRA ignore the multitude of gun based attacks sweeping the country and the flaws of the second amendment in 2015 to skew the debate against Muslims because of one gun related attack in California. These two comparisons encapsulate everything that is wrong with the quality control over our current affairs discourse in 2015.

Both UK and geopolitical developments have become rather disturbing in 2015, so it is time look elsewhere for some festive cheer:-

The Rugby World Cup was brilliantly hosted by England, despite their own underperforming team. The All Blacks were deserving winners and two of the all time greats Richie McCaw and Dan Carter signed off their careers in style.

We witnessed outstanding individual performances across a number of sports – with notable mentions to Novak Djokovic, Jessica Ennis, Mo Farah, Jordan Speith, Lewis Hamilton and Usain Bolt. We even witnessed Britain winning the Davis Cup. Or rather, Dunblane winning the Davis Cup for Britain.

The Premier League continues to offer a mixture of excitement and vulgularity. Here we are at Christmas witnessing Leicester City continuing to inspire and surprise both partisan and neutral football fans as they lead the Premier League at Christmas. We say goodbye to Jose Mourinho who managed Chelsea to the title in May and yet, has been sacked in December. Gary Monk was touted as a future England manager in October, and yet by December he was out of a job having been sacked by Swansea. The Premier League may be great fun but it is a an overpriced puffed up soap opera with bad actors.

In terms of popular culture, we have the behemoths of Star Wars, James Bond and Adele breaking all time box office and album sales records respectively and at the other end of the scale we continue to see the rise in vinyl sales. The concept of actually listening to a whole album in its entirety remains one of life’s affirming pleasures.

So while our politics may be scary, annoying and dispiriting with an overwhelming sense of helplessness, the world is not all bad. As usual, it takes the escapism of sport, music and film to provide a silver lining to the clouds gathering on the horizon.

Enjoy your festive break. The whole team at All That’s Left wish you all a Happy Christmas and a peaceful New Year.

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