Richard North, 01/01/2022  

If last year at this time was "Independence Day", this is the first anniversary. But it also marks the year in which Brexit – as yet still incomplete – died of boredom, mired in difficulties in exporting live bivalve molluscs, dust-ups over vaccines, woes about shortages of truck drivers (and later, a completely artificial petrol crisis), the lack of butchers and slaughterhouse workers, and vets using the wrong-coloured pens.

There was also the ongoing drama of the Northern Ireland border and threats over invoking Article 16 – which are still not resolved, even after the desertion of the recently ennobled Lord Frost and his replacement by Miss Truss[ed]. Then there were the delayed customs checks at the UK border, with only some of them to come int force today, with a phytosanitary regime coming into force from 1 July onwards.

Commercial fishing has taken a hit, with fisher-folk seriously unhappy on both sides of the Channel, farmers this side of the Channel – especially fruit and veg growers, and pig rearers – were also unhappy, while myriads of small businesses gave up trying to cope with the bureaucracy attendant on exporting goods into the Single Market.

Aside from Brexit, though, there were plenty of distractions. Covid was never far from people' minds and, although restrictions were relaxed during the summer, concern came roaring back, focusing first on the delta variant and then in the dreaded Omicrons which may eventually provide the exit ramp for the UK epidemic.

We had, of course, the decline and decline of Johnson, making a bigger fool of himself than usual over Peppa Pig while enmired in the "wallpapergate" scandal which morphed into the sleaze crisis over Owen Paterson and then, bolstered by "partygate" drove the loss of Paterson's ultra-safe seat of North Shropshire to the Lib-Dems – the second defeat, after the loss of the safe seat of Chesham and Amersham earlier in the year, also to the Lib-Dems.

There followed after North Shropshire a back-bench rebellion over "Plan B" Covid restrictions which marked Johnson's card to the extent that he was unable respond to the Covid Mafia with tighter controls to deal with the Omicrons, thereby gaining himself a certain amount of undeserved kudos for staying his hand – unlike the devolved governments – ending up the year pushing his booster campaign and staging a partial political recovery.

Meanwhile, the dinghy people and illegal immigration has been a running sore, with the inadequacy of the British government shown up in high relief by the robust action of the Polish government in resisting the "invasion" of (largely Iraqi Kurd) migrants from Belarus. The perceived lack of French action hasn't helped matters and, alongside fishing and other matters, has caused a marked deterioration in relations with France.

Domestically, "net zero" has emerged into public consciousness as a "thing", with the threat to abolish gas boilers – not that the population is yet motivated to contest the issue. This overlays the very visible evidence of Johnson's Damascene conversion to rampant greenery, culminating in Glasgow's eco-fest as it hosted CoP-26, from which position Johnson has been resiling ever since, especially as we are locked into a spiralling energy crisis and the possibility of power cuts in this coming new year.

Despite all this, only one MP has been murdered this year, by the son of a Somali immigrant, whose father used to work for the Somali government until the leader was deposed with Qatar support on the promise of a gas exploitation deal in Somali waters from the new leader. It was, doubtless, a complete coincidence that the murdered MP had strong political links with Qatar.

Our nation was briefly touched by the unexpected fall of Afghanistan in the summer, and the rush of the evacuation from Kabul airport, demonstrating that the UK had no influence on the military campaign there, beyond that permitted and facilitated by the United States.

I think it was Bush – or someone in his administration – who threatened to bomb Afghanistan back into the Stone Age. Pakistan might also have been included, although parts of both countries are still there. But, as to Afghanistan, with the take-over of the Taliban and the withdrawal of Western aid, the whole of the country is sinking back, stricken by food shortages which threaten to develop into a full-scale famine. And nobody seems much to care.

Back here, the closest to conflict we have is the "culture war" in all its ramifications, along with the stabfest in London and other cities, creating a macabre new record for the homicide of teenage boys in London.

This adds to the general feeling that there has been a breakdown in law and order, as the police retreat into their bunkers to monitor internet hate crimes, venturing out only to give counselling to "Insulate Britain" warriors, beat up anti-vax demonstrators and (occasionally) murder and sexually molest women.

Add to that inflation, now at 6.8 percent (depending on how you measure it), the National Insurance changes about to take effect, huge energy bills in the offing, and Council Tax increases threatened, this has not been a happy year and most people will probably be glad to see the back of it. Sadly, there are no high expectations for the coming year – other than perhaps the vanquishing of the Omicrons, and their relegation to an endemic, largely cold-like disease.

On a personal note, the highlight of the year was the publication in August of the fourth and probably final edition of The Great Deception, after the labour of proofing, correcting and indexing. As with the previous editions, there has been no attention from the legacy media. Unsurprisingly, sales have not been spectacular.

With previous editions, however, we were able to gain some momentum through the large number of reviews on Amazon but, this time round, only a few stalwarts have made the effort. I would have thought that, with a regular readership of over 10,000 for both blogs, we might have had more readers supporting the enterprise, but it was not to be.

We have many readers only too keen to instruct and lecture us in the comments facility, so an amount of give and take would have been in order. At times, I feel, there is rather a lot of "take", and very little "give", notwithstanding the continued generosity of our donors who enable us to scrape by.

However, even that does not fully support our ventures, so we are planning shortly to wind up the EU Referendum site, and integrate the archive with Turbulent Times. It is just too expensive keeping both sites going. I will also be closing down my Twitter account in the new year. For the effort it requires, it does not deliver any worthwhile results.

I am also planning some changes to the comments. Hitherto, I have been reluctant to remove commenters but am constantly reminded that some of the more tedious and obsessive commenters do in fact deter others from participating. Like any good garden, it needs the occasional weeding, to make space and let the light in.

With that, we are prepared for another year's battle, and are committed to running the blog as an active contributor to the political debate. For me, this will bring me into my 19th consecutive year of blogging, with only a few days missed over all those years. For that, I must thank the indefatigable Mrs EU Referendum, my family and our band of loyal readers and donors.

It thus remains only for me to wish everyone a Happy New Year and hope that this one really is better than the last – however unlikely that might be.

Also published on Turbulent Times.

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