31 Dec 2011 at 18:45
As we look back on 2012 it is with some trepidation that we look ahead to 2013. Who could have foreseen the momentous events which changed our world over the last twelve months? It’s not just Britain which has changed, but the whole world order. The collapse of the Euro led to the completely unforeseen destruction of the American economy following the hidden exposure of US banks to the European, in particular, the French, banks. The Chicago riots in September led to outbreaks of violence all over the US which mirrored those in Paris and Madrid earlier in the year in everything but the scale of wanton destruction. The rest of the world watched in horror as former French President Sarkozy was dragged from his retirement home by a lynch mob and kicked within an inch of his life. Ironically it was a passing off duty SAS member who stepped in to save his life. The British tabloids had a field day with headlines such as The Sun’s BRITAIN SAVES FRENCH PRESIDENT (AND IT’S NOT EVEN FROM A GERMAN).
Having looked set for a second term, US President Barack Obama went down to a humiliating defeat to President Sarah Palin, who had been a last minute draftee at the Republican Convention. She doesn’t take office for another three weeks, but already, her appointment of Secretary of State Schwarzenegger and Vice President Larry Hagman look set to mire her presidency in controversy.
At home, Britain’s £100 billion bailout of the Republic of Ireland was approved by the Dail, as was the Act of Union, under which Ireland reverted its currency back to the Pound and ceded foreign and defence policy to the United Kingdom Parliament after 90 years of full independence. In return the United Kingdom agreed to let Ireland represent it at the Eurovision Song Contest.
In domestic politics, Nick Clegg was overthrown as LibDem leader but allowed to remain in the Cabinet by the Prime Minister. The new LibDem leader, Chris Huhne, gave a moving acceptance speech from his cell in Wormwood Scrubs. Meanwhile the Labour leader David Miliband continued to make progress in rebuilding his party from the mess in which it had been left by his brother, Ed, whose decision to resign in February and take up the position of Lecturer in Quasi-Socialist Studies at the University of Luton was described at the time by the leading (sic) leftwing commentator Laurie Penny as “a body blow to the feminist agenda”. Indeed.
Yesterday’s release of the 1982 cabinet papers have understandably led today’s news agenda. The fact that Margaret Thatcher came within an inch of using nuclear weapons against Argentina during the Falklands War came as a shock not just to historians, but also surviving members of her cabinet. “I’d have resigned if I had known,” said Michael Heseltine. “It would have saved all that bother later.”
In sport, the 2012 Olympics went off without incident, but there was a disappointing medal haul from British participants, with only 72 year old Mrs Enid Rankin winning a bronze in the new Olympic sport of synchronised stairlift racing. Manchester City swept all before them to win the Premier League, the FA Cup, and the League Cup and ended the season selling Carlos Tevez to Scunthorpe United for £2.50 and a box of Tetley teabags. England again flattered to deceive at Euro 2012 in the Ukraine, going out in the group stages. Fabio Capello’ successor was named as Mr Sid Higginbottom, manager of non league side Neasdon United. But it wasn’t all gloom and doom in British sport. Andrew Flintoff came out of retirement to lead England to victory in the All England Beer Drinking Test series.
2012 was the year that publishers started to abandon hardback books with eBooks outselling hardbacks for the first time. The BBC pulled out of televising all live sport and announced that the money saved would be pumped into yet more reality TV shows – the latest being “The Jesus Factor”, hosted by Ann Widdecombe. But it was good news for the X Factor as Simon Cowell and Cheryl Cole returned to rescue the show. “It were a reet laff the laast time and I’m looin fowod to getin’ stook in agen, way aye man,” commented Miss Cole. Meanwhile, Channel 5 was still reeling from the controversy caused by Sally Bercow’s second appearance in the Big Brother House, after it was discovered she had smuggled in her husband, the Speaker of the House of Commons, into the house in her suitcase. Conservative MP Keith Simpson described it as a “constitutional outrage” and demanded the return of Parliament.
And in Norfolk, defections to the Conservatives on the County Council continued apace with the entire LibDem group crossing the floor. “If we are going down, we might as well have a taste of power before we do,” said their group leader, having taken advice from local MP Simon Wright. The first Police Commissioner election in Norfolk was won by Mrs Doris Bonkers, the UKIP candidate from Watton. Her campaign slogan “Deport all criminals to Suffolk” proved remarkably effective.
And finally, Norwich City ended the season in a UEFA Cup spot after they won their last ten matches, including a remarkable 7-0 thrashing of champions elect Manchester City in which Grant Holt scored a double hat-trick in 20 minutes. The celebrations were slightly marred by the sight of Delia Smith jumping into the team bath after the match while screaming ‘Let’s be ‘Avin youse’.