Luke Pollard MP Member of Parliament for Plymouth Sutton and Devonport
Each year I make 10 predictions about the coming year. You can read my 2022 predictions here – 9 out of 10 again.
Last year was a mess. Three Prime Ministers and four Chancellors of the Exchequer. 2022 was a year like no other. We saw a catastrophic act of economic self-harm in Liz Truss and Kwasi Kwarteng’s mini-budget, deepening economic crises from huge energy bills, rising food prices and housing costs.
A new wave of Conservative austerity to pay for Liz Truss’ bizarre economic pipedreams and more people struggling. The climate crisis got worse and Vladimir Putin launched a criminal invasion of Ukraine that sent shockwaves around the world.
Making predictions is something I’ve been advised against doing by one learned colleague who said it could be a hostage to fortune. She is entirely correct, but sometimes the best advice is understood in retrospect, so here’s my 2023 predictions:
- The Cost of Living Crisis deepens
More and more families in Plymouth will struggle to make ends meet in 2023. A crash in house prices sometime next year won’t help family budgets with more families evicted unable to pay massive mortgage interest payments or sky-rocketing rent.
Foodbank, heatbank, babybank and clothes bank use will all continue to rise. It is a mark of shame on our nation that these are now so commonplace. We should aspire to be a nation where poverty and hunger is banished not excused awkwardly and shunted to the remit and generosity of charities and churches.
- Argyle – top three finish – and go up at the playoffs
As a proud Argyle supporter, I know we will continue to perform well on and off the pitch. I’m a fan of Simon Hallett’s stewardship of our local club, for no other reason, than he will tell me it is not him but the team at Home Park who deserve the credit.
As the chant goes, “Argyle are massive everywhere we go”, and we can be because the finances are being put right, the crowds are happy and hungry for more and the club, once again, stands for the best of our city. A good season sees us at least in the playoffs and as an eternal optimist, going up.
- Ready for a 2024 election
It becomes increasingly obvious that Rishi Sunak’s invisibility and surprising lack of any political strategy marks him out as the man tasked with, as one Tory MP told me, “leading the Tories into opposition, not crashing out in a landslide defeat.” I worry about complacency.
Labour won’t win by default, we will win by hard work, bold ideas, relentless campaigning and all hands on deck, with every single MP and councillor being used to their full ability. No half measures, no inevitability, only hard graft. But with the polls unhappy reading for the blue team, observers and pundits will look to 2024 for the start of the “long-campaign” something we haven’t seen since early 2015.
- Labour takes control of Plymouth City Council
The Conservatives in Plymouth are an embarrassment. From the Tory plan to deforest Armada Way chopping down nearly every single tall tree, to the huge £37million deficit in the council’s finances, to constant internal warfare, they need time in Opposition to sort themselves out. I’m looking forward to seeing Labour’s Councillor Tudor Evans OBE take the reins and finish the job he started when Labour won power last in 2018.
- Devil’s Point gets bathing water status as the sewage scandal continues
Firestone Bay is a special place for me as a wild swimmer. It is both beautiful and tranquil, touched by humanity and at one with nature. 2021 saw thousands get involved in my campaign to have Ministers designate Devil’s Point as an official bathing water meaning regular water testing and publication of that data. We have a super-strong case for bathing water status and I expect Ministers to agree with us in the New Year and grant us full and official bathing water status starting at Easter. Fingers crossed.
- More sleaze and scandal engulfs Tory government
Tories will Tory. The sleaze from the Conservatives will continue.
- World continues to stand with Ukraine
Putin will not win, but he will try to extend the instability across Europe with covert actions to spread division and seed hatred. His bot factories will continue to pump out misinformation as his missiles and shells land on civilian targets across Ukraine.
In 2021, we stood with Ukraine and its people, we welcomed them into our homes and we called for Ukraine’s armed forces to be armed with western weaponry to repel the criminal Russian invaders. That resolve has not weakened despite the Kremlin’s weaponization of grain and energy. Putin will lose, Ukraine will win, but the path to that outcome is still fraught with dangers, death and destruction.
- The Lionesses win the Women’s Fifa World Cup
Qatar should never, ever have been awarded the Men’s World Cup by Fifa. I called Qatar out for their treatment of LGBT people and migrant workers in the Commons, but I won’t have any such complaints about the hosts of the Women’s World Cup. In July and August we’ll have our attention down under as the Lionesses take on the world in Australia and New Zealand. Having lifted the Euro crown, let’s back them as they take on the world.
- Jimmy Peters gets the Jack Leslie treatment
The team behind the incredible Jack Leslie statue at Home Park have shone a spotlight on Plhymouth’s incredible diverse history. Largely untold and hidden, 2023 will be the year when another black pioneer from our city, Jimmy Peters, gets remembered. If you don’t know who he is yet, google him and find out.
- Pressure builds for proper action on housing crisis in the south west targeting second homes and holiday lets
2023 will see a renewed focus from Labour and local campaigners on how second homes, Airbnb’s and holiday lets are turbo-charging the housing crisis in the south west. I launched the First Homes, Not Second Homes campaign with Labour’s Parliamentary candidate in Truro and Falmouth back in 2021 and it has grown and grown. Expect to see more pressure as house prices fall and more local homes are swallowed up by absent landlords and people intent on leaving their new properties empty for most of the year.