New Year (un)predictions: Your definitive guide to what won't happen in 2014...and what should
It's the end of the year and newspapers, magazines and websites are full of predictions for 2014. Instead, here’s our definitive list of unpredictions...
Saturday 28 December 2013
HAVE BOMB, WON'T TRAVEL
What won't happen: The much-overdue introduction of intelligent security at UK airports. Since pre-flight searches began 40 years ago, they have been based on the same criteria: can we identify a gun or bomb (or, latterly, nail scissors or 200ml of shampoo) in cabin baggage? A vast amount of time and money is wasted each year searching 100 million departing passengers who have no evil intent. The result: long queues, frustrated passengers and revealing to potential terrorists exactly what security they need to circumvent. Those resources should be spent on studying the behaviour of individuals.
What should happen: "We've been expecting you, Mr Calder. You bought a ticket two days ago, for cash, and your previous travel patterns are of interest. We'd like to ask a few questions, and check your baggage forensically, while these other people board without fuss." When you walk through Customs at the end of your journey, you are being profiled. Let's do the same at the start.
What won't happen: Scotland votes on independence in September with a clear insight into the consequences.
What should happen: Somewhere in Edinburgh, perhaps hidden in Alex Salmond's office, you can imagine an unpublished document – 'Scotland's Future: the uncertainties'. The OED has a Scottish noun for its likely reception – a stooshie. But there's no document, and 2014 will pass with marketing replacing facts. Such a democratic deficiency shouldn't happen. We vote on promises and idealism but when wool this officially thick is pulled over the people's eyes, it's difficult to see what's really out there.
AND THE OSCAR GOES TO...
What won't happen: With zero in the way of Golden Globes, Ryan Coogler's directorial debut, Fruitvale Station, probably won't be nominated for Oscars, either. The movie tells the true story of 22-year-old Oscar Grant, who was shot and killed by a Transport Police officer in Oakland on New Year's Day, 2009.
What should happen: In a year when black filmmakers are being celebrated for fresh and rare takes on slavery (12 Years a Slave), civil rights (The Butler) and apartheid (Mandela), Coogler's film is a powerful, essential account of the life and death of a young African-American man today. It ought to win awards – not to mention, a big audience.
Scotland votes on independence in September but 2014 will pass with marketing replacing facts (PA)
What won't happen: Private business investment will surge, helping to rebalance the UK's consumer-dependent economy. Growth in 2013 has been dependent on a recovery in the housing market and a willingness among the public to reduce their saving rates. But debt levels are still high relative to incomes and household balance sheets are still very fragile. Consumer-led growth in this context is unsustainable so there needs to be a 'handover' from spending by the household sector to spending by businesses.
What should happen: The Government should ditch George Osborne's senseless fiscal mandate and ratchet up state infrastructure spending in order to help crowd-in private investment. Despite the persistent budget deficit there is no danger of a bond market panic pushing up British interest rates. The Coalition should use its fiscal space to build more roads, railways and houses. This would help encourage the private sector to spend, establishing a virtuous circle of rising demand today and enhancing Britain's capacity to grow in the future.
What won't happen: TeamGB win 30 golds at the Winter Olympics in Sochi and the nation erupts in joy. That said, freestyle skier James Woods and skeleton bobsledder Shelley Rudman, have a real chance at gold.
What should happen: Not much. To compete with the best would require an overhaul of how we fund elite athletes. Something would have to give, and we over-reach already: Torvill and Dean... those curlers in 2002... the occasional, unlikely glorious British Winter Olympic cameo is exactly how it should be.
Growth in Britain has been dependent on a recovery in the housing market and a willingness among the public to reduce their saving rates (AFP/Getty Images)
What won't happen: In a powerful rebuke to all those idiots who argued that opening up the Booker Prize to all English-language writers might possibly be bad news for our local literary heroes, a British writer sweeps all transatlantic opposition aside. In your face, DeLillo!
What should happen: Everyone remembers that literary prizes are mostly important as a means of drawing attention to books that deserve a wider readership, not deciding the BEST BOOK IN THE WORLD and giving its author an enormous trophy. Americans are politely told to be content with the Pulitzer, which is, after all, a bigger deal anyway.
LESS IS MORE
What won't happen: Everybody will start thinking about the hidden human costs of cheap clothes before another factory collapses. Instead of buying £2.99 T-shirts and party dresses for a tenner, the disposable fashion bubble will finally burst and brands worldwide will create a coalition that enshrines the rights of garment workers everywhere to fair pay and treatment and a safe workplace.
What should happen: Brands that have previously hidden their use of cheap labour under the guise of 'buying in bulk' will finally be honest about the murky practices that fuel their business. Prices will go up, people will buy less but make it last longer – meaning that the fast fashion cycle will finally slow down to a point that is somewhat sustainable.
What won't happen: England play the most attractive, sophisticated football at the World Cup finals in Brazil in June.
What should happen: With expectation at an all-time low, Roy Hodgson lets his team off the leash and takes risks. Teenage prodigy Ross Barkley gets his chance. Wayne Rooney plays his first international tournament in 10 years unencumbered by injury or personal turmoil. Steven Gerrard, Frank Lampard and Ashley Cole get a good send-off at the end of their England careers. The country looks upon the national team with some degree of affection. And it's onwards to the European championships in 2016 with renewed hope.
What won't happen: Glitzy West End show producers have a collective attack of idealism, slash ticket prices, à la Michael Grandage and his successful scheme this year. New audiences get the best seats in the house. Sneaky booking fees, service charges, 'premium' seats, and overpriced previews are ditched in a blaze of altruism.
What should happen: A set number of bargainous tickets for big shows boosts reputations; theatre-makers get good publicity and the moral high ground. While audiences have change for an ice-cream at the interval, and the theatre feels like a place for everyone.
What won't happen: TV commissioners stop filling primetime comedy slots with samey, unfunny, male-dominated panel shows. If only. Panel shows are cheap, celeb-friendly and quite popular. And in a risk-averse climate, they give agents a way to get their clients on the small screen without anyone having to take a punt on more imaginative comedy vehicles.
What should happen: Channels should impose a 12-month moratorium on all 'new' panel-show formats. Or at least ensure that they commission at least two new sitcoms/sketch shows, etc for every Mock the Week tribute that gets the greenlight. There are hordes of brilliant talents who are dying to be funny on TV without having to press a buzzer first.
What won't happen: After continued international outcry, governments worldwide will agree to stop indiscriminately hoovering up personal data in the name of national security. Edward Snowden gets a ticker-tape parade in New York City to sweeten the deal.
What should happen: Individuals will take to heart the slogan 'encryption begins at home' and begin to overturn the internet's personal-data-and-adverts funding model by paying for the sites and services that matter to them. All this while remembering that any meaningful changes have to come from government – though we may need some new politicians before this happens.
The excellent Sarah Wollaston went from being a GP to a Tory MP (Rex Features)
What won't happen: Galvanised by derisory turnout in May's Euro elections, the leaders of the main parties get serious about persuading people who are not career politicians, former political advisers or think-tank wonks, to stand for Parliament.
What should happen: One of David Cameron's most successful experiments was to have a few 'open' primaries in which every voter in the relevant constituency had a vote in choosing the Tory candidate. That is how the excellent Sarah Wollaston went from being a GP to a Tory MP. All the safe seats held by whatever party where there is not already a candidate in place should hold such primaries.
KEEP UP, LOOK SHARP
What won't happen: The steady proliferation of wearable health tracking devices will turn us all into toned demigods, happy to smash our daily FitPoints goal with a 20-minute session on the stationary bike and a post-gym kale shake.
What should happen: The falling cost of health trackers and their companion apps will be used to help those who have difficulty managing chronic health problems. The rest of us will occasionally try them out to kickstart our fitness goals, before we're reminded that running can actually be a fun thing to do without being coerced by our smartphones.
What won't happen: George Osborne finds £20bn somewhere and increases the health budget by 4 per cent every year for the next five years. Hospitals begin a recruitment drive and junior doctors get a bonus for working on casualty wards. Patient care improves, waiting times plummet.
What should happen: With a newly-recruited army of inspectors, hospitals and GPs pay more attention to their patients' concerns, improving care and meeting targets, leading to a glowing assessment by the chief inspector, making everyone feel good again about our completely free, equal and effective NHS.
There should be an inquest into why British cinema is failing to unearth new talent as visionary and as idiosyncratic as Derek Jarman (Rex Features)
THE PRICE IS RIGHT
What won't happen: House prices go down, everyone stops obsessing about property and young people in London can afford a deposit on their first flat.
What should happen: Capital Gains tax ought to be levied on main residences to deter speculation and spread wealth more fairly. Many of the present generation of home owners have enjoyed the fruit of one if not two housing booms, yielding huge windfall gains. These could be recycled to help their children have a decent education and a better start in life.
REQUIEM FOR A DREAM
What won't happen: The big Hollywood studios stop turning out re-makes of old hits: there will be no more Spider-Man, no reboots of Mad Max, a ban on future ventures to Jurassic Park, a gag on Godzilla, Captain America will be put out of commission and we won't have any further versions of RoboCop.
What should happen: As the Brits mark the 20th anniversary of the death of Derek Jarman, there should be an inquest into why British cinema, for all its recent successes, is failing to unearth new talent as visionary and as idiosyncratic as Jarman.
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