Friday, 29 December 2017

My 2018 Coalville Times Predictions

Part of the job of a newspaper columnist is to be a fortune teller. We’re always writing at least a few days ahead of ourselves, sometimes if we have a holiday booked, a couple of weeks. It really is astonishing how often we actually get things right and how even when we get them wrong we were ambiguous enough to claim to be right anyway.

So in that spirit of being true to the columnists art this week I want to give you a few predictions for the coming twelve months. You can ignore them, you can hold me to them, you can point out how wrong I eventually turn out to be. Only I won’t be, they’ll all turn out to be true; except the ones that don’t, of course.

So here goes.

There will be no General Election, no change of Prime Minister and no let up on Brexit in the coming year. One way or another Britain is leaving the European Union, probably in early 2019. There’s a lot of work to be done in that time and you don’t change riders, let alone horses, in the middle of a race.

The Conservatives will be just about united enough to stave off a general election and Mrs May will demonstrate just how much of a first class backroom operator she is by continuing to come up with eleventh hour deals.

The Prime Minister might not be much of a campaigner but she is one of the most practical politicians of this, or any other, generation; she’ll be at the helm until a final Brexit deal is struck, and depending on how good that deal is maybe a great deal longer than that.

On the other hand 2018 could, and against all of the perceived wisdom, spell the end of Jeremy Corbyn’s career. It’s recently been measured that populist politicians maintain their peak of popularity for about a year. In other words you only get one chance to make a first impression and Corbyn had his last June. He ran Theresa May close but it wasn’t enough; his freshness becomes staler from hereon in. Moderate Labour MPs might just start organising against him once more, this time they may well be more effective.

Abroad President Trump will remain in the Oval Office. If there really was a smoking gun incriminating enough to impeach him we would know by now. Expect him and his party to take a pasting in next year’s mid-term elections but don’t for a second bet against him winning a second term of office two years after that. Working class folk want to hear a voice that talks to their worries; if Trump continues to do so then he’s heading for a second term of office. The challenge all of our political parties are rubbing their collective heads about is just who could be the British equivalent.

Locally our politicians will continue to moan on about the reintroduction of the Ivanhoe railway line from Burton to Leicester; and they will continue to be disappointed. It isn’t going to happen; not in 2018, not ever. We are too wedded to the convenience and privacy of our cars and as long as we are there won’t be demand to make the reopening of the line viable. We don’t mind paying more as long as we can get a parking space at the other end. Who wants to sit next to some stranger for half an hour, or worse, someone you slightly know and can’t remember their name? If bus routes aren’t financially viable, seriously, what’s the chances that building stations, lines and rolling stock ever will be? It’s not happening!

But maybe, just maybe, Coalville will get a cinema (and I don’t mean one that’s just a big television – like the one in Swadlincote). Local businesses are starting to talk with a bit more conviction about a ‘leisure quarter’ in the town; it might just happen.

Of course even if we end up with something akin to London’s Leicester Square outsiders, and far too many of our own residents, would end up slagging the place off and blaming ‘the council’ on Facebook because it isn’t Las Vegas.

Seriously guys, if you’re from Coalville like I am, your 2018 resolution should be to be more positive about our town. One of the reasons that Coalville is perceived to be glum is that we allow it to be perceived that way and even perpetuate the myth.

Here’s another prediction for you: in 2018 the area will lose at least one of our local newspapers, but it won’t be the Coalville Times. In an act of great foresight this newspaper never did go down the route of putting all its content on a website free of charge. Those that did are finding it remarkably tough; unless we start buying more copies some of them will go to the wall, probably over the course of the next twelve months. When they do and no one is left to scrutinise our public officials we’ll only have ourselves to blame.

So there’s a few predictions for you; maybe they’ll come true, maybe they won’t. I also predict the new royal baby will be a boy; or maybe a girl. Leicester City won’t win the league, but they might do well in the cup. And watch out for Gary Lineker on Strictly.

All right, this is getting silly now. Who knows what will happen in 2018? But whatever it is I wish you the very best for the next twelve months.



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