So, has 2011 been your annus horribilis or annus mirabilis? For many readers I can understand 2011 may well be a year they will be glad to see the back off. Personal tragedies aside, the poor state of the economy has made life a major test for many.
Although the recession began as long ago as 2008 for some businesses, there is little doubt that with the slow recovery in the United States and the stuttering fortunes of the Eurozone, the export-led British economy has had a tough time – and the prospects for 2012 don’t look too clever either.
Facing up to such a challenge would have been hard enough were the British public sector lean and fit – costing little to support and being flexible and dynamic – but the truth is that it is obese and out of condition and therefore ill-suited to cope with the extra demands that will be placed on it from growing dole queues and social unrest.
The burden of these overweight public services, vital though many of them are, has to be carried by the value-adding productive private sector, and this is why Britain is so badly placed to compete with international competition that faces less red tape and lower taxes.
It was hard enough to comprehend back in 2010 how the former Labour government thought that putting up the National Insurance contributions of employers would have helped give Britain a fighting chance of recovering from the recession – looking at it now that idea looks just plain mad.
2011, being an election year for the Holyrood parliament, promised mixed fortunes for Scottish politicians and it did not fail to disappoint. Alex Salmond enjoyed a record-breaking personal triumph by achieving an unprecedented overall majority and it was only a matter of time before all of his adversaries were replaced.
Iain Gray is, I believe, a decent man but his strategy was misconceived from the get-go and the Labour campaign thoroughly negative and uninspiring. Tavish Scott is undoubtedly talented but the Liberal Democrats were sunk the day Nick Clegg chose David Cameron over Gordon Brown or an alternative from the Labour cabinet. They can count themselves fortunate they did not go down with all hands.
Annabel Goldie may have become a likeable Great Aunt to Scottish voters but fewer gave her their votes than the last time as her party’s support literally dies with the passing of time and the ageing of its members.
So for all the circumstances are not what they would have wished for the replacements of the respective party leaders, Johann Lamont, Willie Rennie and Ruth Davidson must view 2011 as one worth celebrating, even if only in private.
For the new Tory leader it has especially been a reversal of fortunes, coming from being a defeated general election candidate working in Goldie’s office with no chance of getting into Holyrood to being promoted to top of the Tory list in Glasgow and thus winning a list seat and then becoming the Scottish Party leader after barely making her maiden speech.
Looking at the challenges of the local council elections and the economic gloom that the new political leaders face in 2012 they should probably raise a glass to 2011 on Hogmanay – for the past year may prove to be their career high point.
For Salmond it is likely to be more of the same. The SNP bubble has yet to burst and coming from a relatively low base of councillor numbers means that the local elections should prove fruitful for the First Minister.
For Edinburgh folk 2011 could at least be said to be the year when the reality of the trams fiasco was finally exposed and confronted. I have no words left to describe the futility and needless embarrassment of the whole project and like the economic recession it will be a few years yet before the costly debacle that the Edinburgh public never asked for or consented to can be put behind it. Still, at least nobody is now fooling anybody about it being on budget and only slightly delayed. Be thankful for small mercies.
Maybe then we can look back on the footy for consolation?
No such luck for Hibs supporters, there have been only nine league wins in the whole 12 months and only four of those were at Easter Road. Followers of the Hearts have had better fortune but the financial shadow hanging over the club made fore some grim and embarrassing stories with some of the best talent looking to escape. For both sets of supporters 2012 must come as some relief but with the first derby match on January 2 there is every prospect that the pain will have to be endured for a little longer.
Be it the economy, politics, football – 2011 has been a driech year for many people – you had to be an SNP-supporting, Rangers-following, liquidation accountant to stand a chance of enjoying yourself through the period.
What are the chances then that for a unionist-believing, Hibs-following, PR consultant that 2012 will be one to celebrate? Methinks “roll on 2013” could be my motto – and that’s me being optimistic!