2020 has been a year like no other. I didn’t predict a global pandemic and I’m not going to go back in time and amend my predictions to make myself look like a soothsayer in the style of Dominic Cummings. https://fullfact.org/health/cummings-blog-coronavirus/
Seven or eight out of ten depending on how strict you are isn’t a bad tally from 2020. Have a read of my 2020 predictions here. https://www.lukepollard.org/news/2020/01/03/lukes-10-predictions-for-2020/
Luke’s 2021 predictions:
- The vaccine changes everything.
The only way out of the COVID-19 emergency is with a massive roll out of the vaccine. We need an incredible national effort to vaccinate nearly 67million people. Along the way I’d expect the siren voices of anti-vaxxers to grow louder. Their volume masks some very scared people and in taking them on head on, remember that some good people have been taken in by social media algorithms and purposeful lies. The Government has been too slow on every aspect of the pandemic from care homes to PPE and their roll out must not also be too slow. But when the vaccination roll out comes at pace, it will change everything allowing the economy to open up and restrictions to be lifted. It will take longer than people think but every ounce of effort put into the vaccine roll out is energy and resources well spent. I will be getting my vaccine when called forward and will be encouraging others to do the same.
- Storm clouds ahead for the economy
Britain has suffered one of the largest death tolls and one of the deepest recessions in the developed world and I fear it will continue to deepen across 2021 as the consequences of the virus, a decade of austerity cuts and high levels of personal debt takes its toll. 2020 has been incredibly tough on household budgets and we need a new type of intervention from Government to support those in need.
- COP26 will deliver a deal because of Joe Biden
The virus isn’t the only emergency our planet faces and COP26, the UN’s climate conference being in Glasgow in the autumn needs to be a success. As someone passionate about the environment, I want to see the conference succeed with new agreements on carbon and biodiversity in the offing. Any success will be because of President Biden’s personal intervention and determination rather than Boris Johnson’s ‘unique’ and divisive statecraft. The PM will claim credit for any wins and dodge any responsibility for failings, but it was ever thus. But if it helps save the planet then the PM can issue as many press releases as he likes.
- Entering a new age of anxiety – mental health crisis
We need 2021 to be the year when we all get more serious about the scale and severity of the mental health crisis. Sticking plasters won’t do. We need a revolution in care, funding, approach and barrier smashing. The virus has turbocharged a crisis that has long been building. This is the year when politicians, leaders, businesses and families need to take mental health more seriously. Livewell SW has a dedicated mental health crisis line if you need urgent help now. https://www.livewellsouthwest.co.uk/news/2020/04/23/24-7-urgent-mental-health-helpline-for-adults-in-plymouth
- Defence cuts come as a sting in the tail of 2020’s defence spending boost
I’m expecting there to be cuts in the tail of 2020’s funding boost for defence. As the MP for Devonport, I’m watching carefully to see where any cuts will fall. Huge black holes in the MOD’s equipment budgets will gobble up additional funding quickly, so let’s watch for base closures, restructuring, mothballing and cuts. But it is not all gloom: 2021 should also see work start on the new submarine dock at Devonport to refit the Astute and Dreadnought class subs creating hundreds of local construction jobs and cementing Devonport’s future as the nation’s centre of excellence for nuclear refits. I’ll continue the campaign to recycle the retired nuclear submarines at Devonport too.
- More cycle infrastructure and more trees and a second Beaver arrives in Plymouth
Good news for Plymouth as I predict a second beaver will arrive as part of the brilliant re-wilding Green Minds project at Forder Valley. https://www.plymouth.gov.uk/newsroom/pressreleases/beaverreleasedplymouthpartgreenmindsproject The council will also invest more in tree planting and cycle infrastructure as the Labour council seeks to build back better. I’m also really excited about the 1000 tyres project that seeks to safely lift and sustainably recycle the 1,000 discarded car tyres in Plymouth Sound that will get off the ground in 2021 too. http://www.shipsproject.org/1000tyres.html
- Tory MPs will realise Levelling up isn’t delivering for the south west and will, finally, start upping their game – I hope!
Tory MPs in the North of England have got a plan for levelling up after years of neglect by the Government. South West Tories have not. This is incredibly frustrating. But 2021 will be the year when they have to start upping their game. I predict pressure will build for them to create a Northern Powerhouse-style Tory grouping called the South West Research Group to focus their efforts. Expect the ‘elder statesman’ who have sat on their hands for years to be side-lined by new young bucks from the 2019 General Election who have had enough of the lethargic approach of the Westcountry’s legacy Conservative Parliamentarians. I’m keen on cross-party working and will work with anyone because if we don’t get our fair share, we will continue to lose out.
- Let’s try to put Brexit behind us
The Brexit trade deal has been signed into law and now the true consequences of Britain’s new path will be laid bare in 2021. Ministers will no longer be able to blame Brussels – they’ll have to start taking responsibility for their own decisions now. Just as the Tories screwed over fishing in the final days of 2020, expect the reality of Brexit to be heavy on soundbites but tougher on the actual businesses that trade with Europe. Whatever the economic impacts, let us all make sure that our EU friends who live in Plymouth and across Britain know they’re truly welcome. Healing our communities will take time from the scars of the Brexit campaign, but it is worth doing. Whether you voted for Brexit or not, we are now all on a new path together and we need it to be a success.
- Tory MPs ponder the end of Boris Johnson’s time in Downing Street.
So, this is already happening but how long will Boris Johnson last as PM? Will Rishi Sunak’s gloss wear off as he hikes taxes to pay for the Coronavirus interventions? A reshuffle is coming of the incompetent Cabinet very soon and you can also pencil in a Tory relaunch for early new year.
- Labour holds Plymouth City Council and has good wins across the country.
May’s local elections will be hard fought and will be held in unusual circumstances. With Plymouth’s local Conservative party split and squabbling (half of the Tory councillors on Plymouth City Council have resigned the Tory whip in protest at the antics of their new populist Leader who came to power after ousting the well-respected former local Tory leader in late 2020) expect Labour to hold Plymouth City Council. It needs to be more fashionable to praise the work of local councils. We have a good council in Plymouth that is coping well with a pandemic and the Tories cutting 60% of its budget in the past decade. Labour gains elsewhere in the country will help bolster Keir’s leadership.
Luke Pollard is the Labour and Co-operative MP for Plymouth Sutton and Devonport.