2016 : A Political Phenomenon

A look at how the past year has reshaped the world of politics.

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The year that shook the world. 2016 has been a time in which the impossible has been proved possible. Whether you like it or not, it has guaranteed immense change, the aftershocks of which will be experienced for many years to come.

Now I would like you to cast your mind back to this time last year. David Cameron is Prime Minister, the EU Referendum seems like an age away, it’s almost certain that another Clinton will make it to the White House, and the bookies believe that there is a higher chance of Elvis Presley being alive than Leicester City winning the Premier League.

It’s clear to see how much has changed since. Who would’ve imagined that at the end of 2016 we would’ve voted to leave the EU, Trump would be President-Elect, Theresa May would have settled into her new home at Number 10, one of the world’s most infamous communist dictators, Fidel Castro, would be dead, and Carrie Fisher would be added to the seemingly endless list of celebrities that had been taken from us in past last twelve months.

At the end of this extremely tumultuous year, I want to examine the key moments and look at why they were so important.
February – The Failed Renegotiation
At the beginning of the year, David Cameron arrived back in the U.K. with a new deal after months of travelling around Europe trying to persuade leaders to renegotiate our terms with the European Union. But can anyone remember what those new terms were anymore? The tide was beginning to turn for the Eurosceptics.

The Blonde Bombshell
Despite this, the major bombshell occurred on Sunday 21st February, when the mumbling, fumbling Mayor of London appeared from the door of his North London home. After much deliberation, Boris Johnson had defied his leader and sided with the Leave campaign. For me, this was one of the truly spectacular and defining moments of the entire referendum campaign. Quite possibly the most well liked, or at least well known, politician in the country had planted his flag against the not only the EU, but the British Government itself.
June – The EU Referendum
The month when the pressure was cranked up and our political establishment began to sweat. The Brexiteer dream team systemically fought their way through the debates, and provided an eye opener who thought Remain would safely win.
Without a doubt the 23rd June 2016 was the most important day in British politics for decades. After the intense months of campaigning, political scaremongering, threats, debates and protests, it all came down to that final day, in which leave came out victorious.

The Result
Personally, the defining moment of the campaign was at approximately 04:40 on the 24th June, the moment when the BBC’s David Dimbleby announced to the country and to the world, that Britain would leave the EU. It was historic and earth shattering, with a real sense of shock overwhelming the nation.

Goodbye Cameron
A few hours later, our televisions were plastered with the image of David Cameron giving his concession speech. More importantly, it was at the point that it was certified that he would be making way for a successor as Prime Minister. The obvious favourite amongst MP’s was Theresa May, but would the grassroots membership prefer a leave supporter, for example, Boris Johnson?
Boris Rules Out
In another strange turn of events, in what was billed as his campaign launch, Boris pulled out of the Conservative Party leadership election. Why was this? The Johnson/Gove ticket was no more, after Gove’s surprise announcement that he would be running himself. Evidently the EU referendum had ripped through old loyalties, not only with Johnson and Cameron, but also with Gove. After the promises of support, an almost Shakespearean backstabbing left Boris out of the race.

 

July – The All Female Shortlist
After the elimination of Gove, it was clear that Britain would have it’s second female Prime Minister. The all female shortlist of Andrea Leadsom and Theresa May was confirmed, and the battle began. It’s very interesting to note that the Labour Party still haven’t elected a female party leader, let alone Prime Minister. As Cameron said, “pretty soon it’s going to be two-nil.”
May was still the favourite amongst MP’s, but there was a certain inclination for Leave supporting Leadsom with the grassroots members.

Mum’s the Word
On the morning of the 20th July, Leadsom dropped out of the race, supposedly cracking after receiving great backlash from a newspaper interview in which it was reported that she suggested being a mother would render her better suited for the job than May. Whatever the reason was, Theresa had taken the crown in a rapid ascent to the premiership after being the last one standing. Within days the catchphrase “Brexit means Brexit” had been coined by the new Prime Minister, a catchphrase that seems all too hard to forget.

 

November – America uses the Trump card

Quite possibly the most momentous occasion in geo-politics in modern times. Donald J Trump, businessman, media personality and complete political outsider was up against the Clinton machine, which included the entire political establishment, the current president, past presidents, the media, and even some Republicans. Donald had surprised the masses with his strong performances in the presidential debates (for someone who was fairly new to debating) and encouraging hundreds to flock to his turbulent rallies – showing he was ready to put up a fight.

Trump was at the helm of a campaign that stirred something in the hearts of many Americans. He had started a movement, in which the anti-establishment feeling and the desire for change was ignited, and the passion to ‘make America great again’ was put at the forefront of American politics once more.
Now to the surprise of almost everyone in the world, at the final and most critical point in the campaign, Trump seemed to have the upper hand. Humanity watched with anticipation on the night of November 8th. After a few hours, the result was becoming clear – key states like Ohio, North Carolina and Florida had gone against Clinton.
It was then official; Donald Trump had won the election to become the 45th president of the United States. It was an achievement that shocked observers in every country in the world. Against all the odds, setbacks, allegations, bitterness and mud-slinging, the Donald had taken the establishment by storm in a truly momentous fashion.

 

To put it simply, 2016 has been a spectacular year in the political world. The wars, referendums, and resurgence of populist politics throughout the globe has shaken up political order. What will become of 2017? It’s impossible to say, but with Trump assuming office, the threat from Islamic State increasing and the upcoming French and German elections, this is only the the beginning.

If there is one lesson to learn from this year, it’s that that the power of the people will always be stronger than the people in power.

2 COMMENTS

  1. 2016 may well be the year that set in motion a process that will result in the end of the United Kingdom after 309 years – in many ways the most successful political union the world has seen.

    Scotland voted by 55% to 45% to remain part of the UK in 2014 but voted by 62% to 38% to remain part of the EU – i.e. there was greater support for remaining part of the EU than for remaining part of the UK. Scotland now realises that it can’t be part of both unions and may well be called upon to choose between them in a second independence referendum.

    2017 may prove to be even more momentous than 2016.

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