Like many I was fed up with what the elites of Europe and the USA were serving up during 2016. I was unhappy with the policy of half hearted and erratic military interventions in a war torn Middle East. I was hostile to the austerity policies of the EU, creating mass youth unemployment in many parts of the Eurozone and leaving much of the continent mired in slow growth or no growth. I disliked the way the UK was dragged into many of the EU policies that were hostile to growth, enterprise and expansion.
2016 for me turned out to be a year which has made so much possible for 2017. It was a year of sharp transition, starting with a Conservative victory in the UK General election, spreading to the Leave vote in the referendum and ending with Mr Trump’s victory in the USA. As yet we have little to show for these momentous decisions by the voters. Next year will see how the change we want pans out. Voters could not have been clearer. We want change.
My main memory of 2016 will be debating endlessly with members of the economic and business establishment, who were united in their disbelief at the attitudes of voters. So many of them could see no alternative to the austerity policies of the Euro, to the military policies pursued for more than a decade in the Middle East, or to the continuing squeeze of the commercial banks which kept growth sluggish at best. They were above all lost in incomprehension about why so many people did not believe their forecasts or their remedies, and why so many of us were so frustrated at the tyranny of their conventional wisdom.
The architects of the Exchange Rate Mechanism collapse and recession did not apologise and learn enough from their mistakes. The architects of the commercial banking collapse amongst the Central Banks and Treasuries of the West did not understand their culpability for the Great Recession, nor did they learn the right lessons from their mistakes. The western co-architects of the Iraq war, the Libyan splintering, the troubles of Afghanistan did not learn from their experiences or come up with a better formula for Syria.
Instead the EU and US elites banded together to lecture the Netherlands on how to vote about Ukraine, the UK on how to vote about Brexit, the US on how to vote down Trump and the Italians on how to back a constitutional reform designed to buttress the government. The people saw through them, and made their feelings clear. That is why I am full of hope for 2017. If the elite cannot learn from past mistakes, it is time for new direction and new people in power.