Each year I make 10 predictions about the coming year. You can read my 2023 predictions here – I think I got 9 out of 10 right again.
2024 is a big year for our country. The General Election, the deepening crises around the world, the cost of living and housing crises at home all mean 2024 is going to be eventful, to say the least.
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 2024 predictions:
1. People vote for change at the General Election
Britain deserves so much better than the Conservatives. There will be a General Election in 2024 (most likely although they could hang on until January 2025!). At that election I think people across the south west will vote for change. They’ll vote to kick the Tories out. Not only because they’re broken, divided and directionless but because there’s a better, more hopeful option on the ballot paper. Don’t forget to register to vote so you can have your say whenever the election comes. https://www.gov.uk/register-to-vote
2.Winter crisis in early 2024 is tough on staff and patients
NHS staff are brilliant. They showed in the pandemic what the true meaning of selfless public service was. And they were rewarded with claps and another round of attacks from Ministers. Our NHS in Plymouth is underfunded and deserves much greater investment. Derriford already has the worst ambulance handover times in the whole of the UK. I don’t blame the NHS staff and leadership in Plymouth who are working their socks off. I blame Ministers for presiding over under-funding, delays to key NHS upgrades, a recruitment crisis, the collapse of primary care and a winter crisis that is now an all year round crisis. Our NHS deserves so much better.
3. New George Street reopens showing what our city centre should look like
After the last Conservative Council showed how not to do city centre landscaping by chopping down 100+ trees in the middle of the night, the new Labour council in Plymouth will demonstrate how landscaping should be done with the reopening of New George Street. This vital shopping artery has been boarded off for far too long, but I predict when the new sections open people will like the new trees, the grassy areas, the new stone seating and the new sustainable urban drainage systems. The Civic Square should be finished next, then Old Town Street and in the next few months we’ll hear the outcome of the consultation on Armada Way and how that project will start. This is how you do regeneration and landscaping properly. After our city centre was so shamed nationwide by the actions of local Conservatives, it’s time to show our city centre off and this huge investment is just the start.
4. Get Plymouth Building Again
The housing crisis is deepening. There are more people in temporary accommodation, more people struggling to pay their rent or mortgage, more people sleeping rough nationwide. The only way out of a housing crisis is to get building. Plymouth needs more homes. We need a massive injection of housing funding in our city centre to densify and build people back into the heart of our city providing new homes in the process. In recent years it seems most of the new builds have been for students – and thanks to private sectors investors that has been true – but now it is time for local people to get new homes. I predict that in 2024 we will see more shovels into the ground. Let’s start building.
5. We start to make progress on gun law reform
The tragedy in Keyham in 2021 can seem a long time ago. For others, it can feel like yesterday. I’m proud of the way Keyham and Ford have come together over these past few years, supporting one another and making a stronger community for all. The only way to stop another tragedy like this happening again is to change gun laws. The Government has been on a go slow on this area. They’ve sat on the consultation responses from their summer 2023 consultation and they haven’t published the second necessary consultation into changing the price of gun certificates so the applicant pays the full price so police forces can be properly funded to regulate firearms. 2024 will be the year when this starts to change. I’ll keep pushing for gun law reform because I know that sensible shooters, the wider community and Plymouth never want to see another tragedy like the one that hit us in August 2021.
6. Work starts on the health village in the City Centre
I want to see more health on the high street. That has been a consistent call from me since being elected in 2017. The Government’s decision to pull funding for the super health hub on Colin Campbell Court car park was disappointing, but it gave new energy to my vision for a new health village in the city centre. Instead of one building, we now need a dozen or so, for diagnostics, scans, dentistry and GP services. Thanks to the short-sightedness of the Tory Government, but we know that making health services readily available really matters. Health outcomes in Stonehouse are much poorer than the city average and new health facilities like the Community Diagnostics Centre for scans will speed up treatment. It will also start the focus on what other health services can be moved out of Derriford and into the city centre. More please.
7. Tories will suffer a sewage backlash
Last year I predicted we would win the campaign to designate Devil’s Point as a bathing water complete with regular water testing. We won that campaign in May, and found out the water is excellent quality in December. I accompanied that win with a commitment from South West Water to pay for work to close two private sewers discharging untreated human effluent into Devil’s Point. That work will start in early 2024 and I hope will be the start of a new effort to close sewage outfalls from routine discharges. I imagine sewage will be a reason many vote against the Government in the General Election too.
8. Tories suffer further losses in May’s local elections and lurch to the right
Whenever the General Election may be, voters in Plymouth will go to the polls in May for our scheduled local elections. Labour won control of the council in 2023 and I predict will keep control in May 2024. The Tories will lose more seats to Labour and the Independents.
Nationally, more Tory losses in by-elections right up until the General Election will act as the lingering stench of political defeat over the Tories. The reaction from the Conservatives will be to lurch to the right even more. By distancing themselves from the centre ground of British politics they’ll appeal to fewer and fewer voters and have to tussle alongside the more extreme right-wing parties that cluster that part of the political spectrum. That will feel uncomfortable for moderate Conservatives, who will look elsewhere, but offer a fertile hot house for more extreme culture wars and dog whistle politics for those courting this smaller and smaller slice of the electorate.
9. Argyle’s men’s team stay up
I’m a fan of this Argyle team. Their tenacity, their play and their spirit mark them out. I have a lot of time for Argyle’s owner too. After promotion last year, their job is to stay up, and to their credit they’re do this alongside investing in the club. The women’s team and the academy moving to Brickfields is a huge vote of confidence in our city, our club and Devonport. It will regenerate a sports campus that was forgotten about for too long and open sport up to a whole new generation of local residents, especially children. Come on You Greens.
10. The UK performs better at Eurovision with Olly
I love Eurovision. We didn’t do well this year. Mae Muller’s I Wrote a Song came 25th with just 24 points but I predict in 2024 the stardom, flair, panache and performance of Olly Alexander from Years and Years will shoot us up the rankings. Book that night off, get in the bubbles and flags and prepare for a good night.
Luke Pollard is the Labour and Co-operative Member of Parliament for Plymouth Sutton and Devonport. He lives in Plymouth and was elected in 2017.