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Chris Ford: For what it's worth here are my predictions for 2014

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Chris Ford
Chris Ford

Happy New Year dear readers!

For what it's worth, here are my predictions for 2014:

1.) Kim Dotcom will continue to cast a huge shadow over the political scene this year: given that he has done so every year since he first arrived here, the Kim Dotcom Show will roll on and assume greater significance in election year. This year his extradition trial will be held and it's likely to include Dotcom's revelations about what John Key knew about his presence and, more importantly, when he knew about it. And, no doubt, there will be more political casualties - perhaps the PM could be one of them, whether at the time Dotcom makes the revelations or at the election later this year.

2.) Edward Snowden will leak about New Zealand's involvement in US-led spying efforts: some commentators (including Martyn Bradbury) have noted that Snowden has not even touched on Aotearoa's involvement in the game of intelligence snakes and ladders but is expected to do so this year. And Snowden's revelations will not only embarrass the National Government but also Labour as they will likely extend back into Helen Clark's time in government.

3.) The New Zealand economy will grow - to a degree that is: of course there has much hullabaloo over the festive (silly) news season about our economy taking off into the stratosphere. In some regions (like Auckland and Canterbury) that will be the case. However, if you live anywhere else in New Zealand, you can expect growth rates to be more tepid. Besides, don't be completely taken in by the unemployment statistics as anyone working for more than an hour a month is classified as employed when really what people are (in this situation) is underemployed. And if you work for a low wage, then your circumstances aren't going to get much better, especially with National's proposed changes to our employment laws. By the way, while dairy prices might have been higher in the past year which has added to the growth spurt, I saw on television last night as to how they will begin to ease off this year. So, if you spent too much on the credit card at Christmas (as many people appear to have done) then don't be fooled by the reports of future rampant prosperity as the ticket to repayment salvation!

4.) Political fortune telling time: yes, it's election year and this year will see the real jockeying for power take place. And if you want me to predict the final election outcome, it's too early to say definitively but it will be a very close result between the centre-left and centre-right blocs. Therefore, I'm being timid in my predictions and I know I'm in fairly good company in that regard with David Farrar and Martyn Bradbury being two prominent bloggers who have also not deigned to make firm predictions either.

5.) But who will or won't get into parliament?: I will predict though that nearly all of the existing parliamentary parties (most definitely National, Labour, and the Greens) will make it back at the election. However, there has been much discussion about the fate of New Zealand First but I think Winston will make it back. On Colin Craig's Conservatives, it's about 50/50, depending on whether he is gifted a safe Tory seat by National (most likely) but will the voters (after the 2011 Epsom saga) come out and obey John Key's expected edict? Or could National voters even think that the Conservatives are too much of a risk and think it better to make National (which will most likely win the most number of seats in the House regardless) a strong one-term opposition? I think that ACT is dead but they will choose a relatively unknown candidate to contest Epsom and it's a 50/50 toss up whether Peter Dunne flying his United Party banner makes it back in the seat of Ohariu. I do expect that, poor attendance records aside, Te Tai Tokerau voters will re-elect Hone Harawira to fly the Mana flag in the next parliament and he may bring a second MP (maybe John Minto or Annette Sykes) into the House, thereby perhaps giving the centre-left a majority. And I certainly do hope it's a centre-left government but the polls despite the political uncertainty!

6.) The National Government will get into trouble (or still have trouble) with the following issues: Kim Dotcom, domestic and international spying, uneven economic growth, growing inequality, housing affordability, health (for the first time in a long time problems in the sector will begin to dominate the news), education (Christchurch school restructurings will still pose a huge headache), deep sea oil drilling (if there's a spillage, then there will be tonnes of political trouble), welfare reform (work assessments of disabled people could pose political challenges if they are found to unfairly eject disabled people from welfare), and ACC may come back to haunt the government as well.

7.) Labour will have a slightly more peaceful year than in 2013: following David Cunliffe's elevation to the leadership things seemed to have settled down in Labour. There is a new spirit of outward unity being projected even if some controversial policy areas (such as raising the age of entitlement for superannuation) may cause continuing consternation within Labour's ranks. Also, I've read and had it confirmed to me by a source that Clare Curran could be challenged in Dunedin South. Any selection battle there (and it could be divisive as was the 2008 challenge that saw former MP David Benson-Pope deselected) could temporarily attract negative headlines for the party unless, that is, the matter is internally resolved prior to selection day. No doubt, Labour will want to sweep things under the carpet given that the corporate media will concentrate on this selection battle - if it ever gets going that is. If the corporate media were to do so, then that would be unfair, in my view, given that they didn't extensively cover the deselection of National MP Colin King in Marlborough before Christmas. Overall, though, Labour will run a strong campaign during the election period, despite any minor turmoil that may break out during the year.

8.) The Greens will do very well in the polls: yes, I would say this given I belong to the Greens. However, they won't fall below 9 or 10 percent in any of the major polls this year. I can personally say that they are in a good space going into election year and given that the Greens have ridden a number of issues such as deep sea oil drilling, climate change, and growing inequality (amongst others) during this parliament, these issues and a good, strong campaign could see my party reach the goal of achieving 15 percent of the list vote - the party's stated goal - at the election.

9.) And what will happen internationally?: well, a number of things will happen this year including that there could be a possible preliminary settlement of the Syrian Civil War where Assad keeps the presidency but he has to share power with a democratically elected parliament and cabinet if only to forestall the country falling into radical Islamist hands; the US Republicans will narrowly retain control of the House leaving the Democrats in control of the Senate in November's mid-term elections; Europe will remain in low growth/recession mode; the European Parliamentary elections in June will see a swing to the far right, especially in France, Greece and Italy; Australian voters will turn against the Coalition only a year after they won power at the federal level following what is expected to be a savage May Budget; North Korea and its young leader will continue to behave erractically, driven in part by fears about US militarism in the region; the US/Japan alliance will go up against China in the Pacific with the Senkaku/Diayou Islands dispute and trade issues being among a number that will divide them in an increasingly dangerous power game; a final deal over Iran's so-called nuclear ambitions will be reached where the US and EU make significant concessions as do the Iranians; the African National Congress will lose significant seats in South Africa's April elections, the first since Nelson Mandela's death, to parties on its left flank but will still retain power thanks to coalition deals; and Pope Francis I will continue to become one of the most popular pontiffs since John XXIII and John Paul I with positive ramifications for global political debates about poverty and inequality.

10.) Sport and culture: Lorde will continue to lord it, especially at the Grammys where she will take home some much coveted gongs; Eleanor Catton will produce another great work of non-fiction; New Zealand will not take home any medals at the Winter Olympics but Adam Hall will take home a slew of golds at Sochi in the Paralympic version; the All Blacks will continue to be on form ahead of next year's Rugby World Cup; there will be a lot of dirges about how wonderful and glorious the First World War was in its beginning centennial year when it really wasn't; the Black Caps will have good days and bad days; a New Zealand team will take out the Super 15; the American version of House of Cards (which I hear is just as excellent as the British original) will finally make it to free-to-air TV if only to stop people who can't afford Sky from watching pirated versions of it; and the public will have had enough of Seven Sharp and whatever programme TV3 places Paul Henry in by giving them the thumbs down, hence, cancelling them and running non-current affairs shows in their place (Home and Away as a replacement for Seven Sharp - you betcha!).

11.) And there will be ongoing climate change and natural disasters: of this you can sadly be certain as indicated already by the severe polar storm in North America.

So, I will be back later in the year to see how my predictions panned out (or didn't pan out).








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