In the spirit of "New Year Messages", divining from the entrails of the dead economy, and the general prognosticating fever of the end-year period, Manuscripts Don't Burn would like to indulge in a little lighthearted speculation about what the coming twelve months might hold in store for the UK.
In 2009, the media will become almost hysterical about how marvellous it is for everyone to tighten their belts, pull together, and learn to darn our own socks. Words like "tempered in the fires of adversity", "school of hard knocks", and "Dunkirk spirit" will turn most tabloids into soggy repetitive clones.
And all the while the newspapers and tv channels will be desperately trying to distract everyone's attention away from the huge, turd-bomb of an elephant in the room: that the UK is in the throes of economic collapse, and the rich bastards are desperately stuffing their pockets and getting the hell out like rats leaving a sinking ship. Bailouts will proliferate, funnelling public money into private hands at an ever-increasing rate. Banks will repossess willy-nilly, and there will be no recourse other than... another government bailout.
The ship probably won't sink in 2009 - that'll more likely be 2010-11, after a long period of near lawlessness, rationing, food queues, power shortages, utility breakdowns, hunger, disease outbreaks (which will never *actually* be found to be due to the uncollected rubbish piling up in the streets) and civil unrest, which will be dealt with EXTREMELY violently by the police and army and consistently blamed on "anarchists" and "terrorist sympathisers". Thousands of British, students, unemployed, and concerned subjects of her majesty will be locked up without trial during these grim days. Tasers will be used on anyone so much as waving a placard. "I've done nothing wrong so I've nothing to fear" will be exposed as the cowardly sham it is.
Finally, once all the wealth that can be extracted has been extracted and the corporate fascists are safely installed in their heavily-defended tax havens, the EU will be called in to mop up the whole sorry mess. Like with East Germany in the nineties, Europe, despite having suffered its own knocks in the global depression, will shoulder the immense debt burden of putting what's left of England back on its feet again.
The only remaining question will be: will the huge landowners in England, who basically "own" us all anyway, go peacefully, be bribed with new laws which let them keep their millions of tax-free acres behind gated compounds, or have to be strung up before they'll let the rest of us get on with rebuilding the country? That one remains to be seen.
Either way, next year is unpleasant. The year that everything starts to go to hell.
Oh - and "abroad": Israel, Iran, Pakistan, India, China, US... There'll be lots of emotive news programs on Sky TV telling us how we should feel about the citizens of country X getting blown up by country Y - horrified, justified, indignant, or just plain "it's all a long, long way away and doesn't affect me..." Likely we'll all be far too busy to care - same goes for climate change too.
The most terrifying thing about "abroad" will be the out-and-out refusal to engage productively with Russia, which will continue its slide towards aggressive national socialism, bashing everyone over the heads with threats to cut off the gas and eventually the oil. It's an unending irony that, just as following WW1 the victors hammered Germany into the ground rather than rebuilding and extending hands of cooperation, thereby reaping disaster two decades down the line, the international community, led by the nightmare BushCo, saw fit to avenge itself on the fallen giant of the Soviet Union in the 1990s and try to ruin and dismember it, rather than offering the hand of understanding and friendship. Now, once again, just at the moment when we should be really paying attention and engaging diplomatically, we'll leave the Russians to stew as they suffer their own "Consequences of the Wall Street Crash", and similar to Germany in the 1930s, we'll reap the whirlwind as their society lurches to a vengeful right-wing extreme government intent on restoring national pride, whatever the cost.
Historians will wonder how we were all so blind. But we weren't, were we? It's not rocket science. It's just that we didn't *do* anything about it, dithering tomnoddies blustering about bugger-all... The tragedy of humankind is that it is so easily induced to forget...