Politics

Strikes, culture wars, and the return of Partygate: 12 politics predictions for 2023

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One of the most dizzy-making years in politics is coming to an end.

2022 saw corruption, scandals, economic downturn, and steady business for removal companies working in the Downing Street area.

How could the next 365 days even begin to compare to the previous?

Anything could happen but it's worth trying to dust off our crystal balls.

Here's what 2023 could have in store.

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1. There will be more strikes

Mick Lynch schools BBC radio host on what 'driver-only' trains areMick Lynch corrects BBC radio host's ‘driver only’ train theory BBC Radio 4 Today

At least 12 industries held multiple strikes during 2022, and as the year draws to a close, railway unions and border force staff have announced yet more days of action.

Uniting almost all these striking industries is the desire for better pay and conditions to match soaring inflation.

Also uniting them is an unwillingness from employers to meet these huge pay increases, which is almost understandable when you consider just how bad inflation is.

The points of contention, then, are going nowhere and as the economic crisis dribbles into the next 365 days we expect to see more industries stop and start.

2. Climate change will get worse

Record breaking temperatures eclipsed newspaper front pages this summer and with the winter came warnings of similarly scary cold spells.

People are starting to notice the impact of climate change - the disorientating weather raising their awareness in a more tangible way than a shouting headline or a sombre politician ever could, and with that the issue is rising up the political agenda fast.

A good indicator of the mood shift is that when Sunak tried to dodge climate conference Cop27, he was met with such a backlash he was forced into his first u-turn and packed a bag and headed to Egypt, where it was hosted.

Consider this misread of pubic mood and the fact that new climate protest groups (controversial methods withstanding) have become household names in under a year and you can get a sense of how the climate conversation may dominate in the coming year.

3. More battles will be fought in the culture wars

Barely a day has passed this year in which political discourse has not, at some point, turned to either debating how important the contents of someone's underpants is in deciding their gender, or using the BBC or other broadcasters to bemoan the decline of free speech to audiences in their thousands.

One of the key cabinet positions is held by a woman who described people she didn't agree with as "tofu-eating wokerati".

The grownups are not in charge meaning petty culture wars have dominated 2022. We expect the quality of political debate will remain as toxic and childish in the next year.

4. We'll watch the steady rise of Labour

As the words Tory and credibility have become increasingly oxymoronic in their pairing, the party has plummeted in the polls and Labour has, in their place, soared.

Conservative decline started with people tiring of Johnson, but it got even worse when Liz Truss became PM and made her flagship policy 'Crashing The Economy.'

When Sunak came into power - in a very democratic way indeed - Tories hoped his PR slick smile and pledge to lead with "integrity" would see their fortunes change.

But there has been no such "Sunak swing" and Labour have remained comfortably ahead in the polls, so comfortable in fact they have been able to outline a radical agenda for change that goes as far as planning to get rid of the House of Lords.

Unless Sunak oversees steroid-enhanced economic growth or brings back Eat Out To Help Out or something, Labour will continue to entrench its position as the government in waiting in 2023.

5. Boris Johnson and Partygate will be back in the news

Boris Johnson resignationNo 10 was listed as having 15 bedrooms and 12 bathrooms, as well as a \u2018great social space\u2019 on RightMove (PA) PA Wire/PA Images - Stefan Rousseau

The two themes have major 2021 vibes, but they will rear their head in 2023 as an inquiry into whether the former PM misled parliament over Partygate is ongoing with findings surely published by next year.

If it is found he did mislead the commons, his political career might finally come to an end, and what an end of an era that would be.

6. Dominic Raab could get the boot

Another key politician whose future hangs in some sort of balance is Raab, who himself called an inquiry into bullying allegations that keep stacking up against him.

The last time he was forced to leave a cabinet with his tail between his legs was last summer when, then the foreign secretary, he had an ill-timed holiday and was in Greece and Afghanistan promptly fell to the Taliban.

If the inquiry finds he has behaved in a pretty shoddy way, he may find even more time to holiday.

7. Housing will rise up the political agenda

We'd call it an elephant in the room but there are no rooms for the elephants to be in - housing is a major and underreported issue in the UK.

Generation rent can't afford their rent and no one seems to care.

Generation mortgage can't afford their mortgage and the powers that be are nonplussed.

A child died because of the poor quality of social housing.

Homelessness is on the rise.

Starmer has finally been paying the issue lip-service in PMQs - the most important Commons time in the week - but there's a long way to go.

Housing might finally have its political moment in 2023, at last, and with complaints getting louder and louder, let us hope 2023 is a year that brings change.

8. We will see more Brexit dividends (not)

Perhaps more clearly visible than in any other year before it, the Brexit tide is turning.

Since we left the EU formally in 2020, a steady stream of red-tape-related cock-ups have emerged, from long queues at Dover, to stilted supply chains.

At first, people left shaking their fists and cursing Brexit were seen as 'bitter' Remainers.

But the news stories just kept piling up. Brexit is increasing the price our food shops. A former minister admitted a Brexit trade-deal wasn't that great. An expert said the policy has permanently damaged the economy.

With a nose-diving economy and a cost of living crisis laying the foundation for discontent, the damn burst and support for Brexit hit an all-time low.

It has been a political elephant in the room and both the Tories and their understudies waiting in the wings, the Labour party have beseeched the public to move on.

But will the scale of the catastrophes it is causing make that impossible by next year?

9. The Royal Family will face more scrutiny

When the late Queen Elizabeth II died this year, her 70-year reign on the throne died with her and that sent tremors in our state infrastructure.

Longevity comes with legitimacy; change comes with uncertainty - and with King Charles now on the throne people are refreshing their opinions on whether the monarchy is worth the money it's printed on.

This pondering has not been helped by new scandals and revelations brought by the Sussex's for one and by the actions of Lady Hussey for two.

Without clear direction, the public could negotiate its position with the institution as time goes on.

10. There will be at least one cabinet reshuffle

When the going gets tough, the tough distracts everyone with a cabinet reshuffle.

Politics gets stale quickly, and while no one wants to see three PMs in a year, sometimes clearing out the cobwebs in some departments breathes fresh air into them.

So we should see at least one reshuffle in 2023 - but what changes should we expect?

With the trouble, she's asked - and by overseeing such a political hot potato in immigration - Braverman's days could be numbered.

How the economy fares will decide how long Jeremy Hunt stays in his role, too, and as said, the results of Raab's inquiry could also have him packing his bags.

11. We will get another prime minister

We had three Conservative prime ministers in 2022 which is odd for many reasons including because the party that espouses tradition and individualism as touchpoints in their political philosophy seems to have been reduced to a hippy commune that insisted on giving everyone a turn at being in charge - or something.

The truth of the matter is of course far less democratic than that and when Johnson resigned there was a leadership vote a fraction of the population could vote in, before another one to elect Sunak over Truss that still fewer people were involved in.

It is doubtful there will actually be another prime minister in 2023 - unless things go seriously wrong - but if there is the vibe of British politics will be very much a Developing State.

12. The Westminster to reality TV door will open more frequently

Matt Hancock does karaoke on I'm a CelebrityMatt Hancock does karaoke on I'm a Celebrity I'm A Celebrity... Get Me Out Of Here!, ITV

2022 was the year that former and disgraced health secretary Matt Hancock swapped Westminster for wallabies and joined the cast of I'm A Celebrity... Get Me Out Of Here!

He was there, of course, to raise awareness about dyslexia (ahem). After all, all good charitable campaigns start while moaning about being hungry with someone off Hollyoaks. How else have we come to know of neurodiverse conditions if not by watching a man who once had the power to stop us from getting within two metres of our loved ones, chewing on a penis (camel's) with a blank expression?

His signing caused a rumble (in the jungle) all right given his position as a sitting MP and because of the circumstances in which he was forced to resign as health secretary.

But he was not the first politician to go on reality TV - or even on I'm A Celeb!

We are yet to see the full PR impact of Hancock's stint in the bush but if it goes well for him, we wouldn't be surprised if more celebs used the camp as a finishing school in repairing reputational damage.

It is a simple and fundamental principle that the government derives its democratic legitimacy from the people. The future of the country must not be decided by plotting and U-turns at Westminster; it must be decided by the people in a general election. And for this reason The Independent is calling for an election to be held. Have your say and sign our election petition by clicking here.

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