I kind of got an inkling as to how the coming new year might unfold when I found a message among my junk mail from the ‘Global Flat-Earth Alliance’. (I’ll just let you think about that one for a moment).
Anyway, it’s been an eventful twelve months and you probably have your own memories of what happened and what didn’t. No need for me to recount anything at length.
One thing is sure: no-one can claim anymore that Boris Johnson is a prime minister without a mandate. A sizeable chunk of the electorate opted to back him – or at least give him the benefit of the doubt. Just what actual proportions of benefit and doubt are eventually involved of course is something we’ll be finding out.
Among his first actions has been an instruction to drop the word “Brexit” from official parlance. Phrases like “Europe and Economy” are now set to become the new mantra while key negotiating units are to be disbanded.
As a result, there are reported worries among tory party donors that the coming transition period will be a largely static affair with Brussels setting the narrative while the UK tries to argue the EU down from set positions.
A similarly dysfunctional approach can be expected as Labour sleep-walks its way into a leadership contest. As ever, it will be more about the future of the party, and who controls it, rather than the future of the nation.
That’s not as cynical as it sounds because the winner faces the task of somehow combining a mass movement with what is instinctively a party of protest into something meaningful to voters.
I think we’re going to continue to struggle with efforts to protect our environment. The battle is not made easier by how climate change denial has been embraced by leaders who cling to a very short-term agenda.
Without them, the choices appear to be that the planet either drowns or bakes to death before it is choked on non-reusable plastic.
Given all of the above, I don’t have any great insights or expectations for 2020. I just offer the hope that it is a safe and peaceful year for all of us. That would be something.
Culture remains part of the community
Things look set for some serious activity in Swansea’s city centre. We’ve passed the “nothing is ever done” stage on social media and entered the “I don’t like it” phase – so clearly progress is being made.
I also foresee City Deal forging ahead as partner outfits pick up the pace to deliver their respective economy-boosting projects.
Yet among the bustle of commercial endeavour and staying afloat we shouldn’t lose sight of the creative spark that is alive in our communities.
I was reminded of this when I saw a marvellous series of water colours by local artist Jeffrey Phillips. This uplifting work celebrates the poem ‘Desiderata’ in the context of local scenes and people.
Something to remember in 2020 is how local culture encompasses so many varied activities. Moreover, success is not just about being a ‘City of Culture’ but a place that values and encourages talent wherever it is to be found.
There are formative plans for a showcase event early next year to highlight the potential of the creative industry in our locality. I’m hoping to share some details soon.