The past year was anything but boring.
What most of us would like best for 2021 is a nice dull period where nothing dramatic happens, right?
Well unfortunately there is no way of guaranteeing that in such an unpredictable world but it is possible to put a few dates in the diary that are likely to provide political fireworks over the next year.
We have brought together some of the key political flash points ahead in the next 12 months and what you can likely expect from them.
Senedd election – May 6
The forthcoming election is set to be an interesting one.
Interest is likely to be at an all-time high, not least because now most of Wales actually knows who the First Minister is because of the pandemic.
The pandemic has been an awakening of Wales’ devolved consciousness. A feeling that we can do things differently. During the crisis Wales has flexed its constitutional muscles in a way that we haven’t seen before.
This doesn’t mean that everyone likes what they see with the possibility of anti-Senedd parties winning several seats. It is going to be crunch time for many of the party leaders as well. Plaid’s Adam Price has already indicated that anything less than him becoming First Minister would be considered a failure.
The other interesting point is how the elections will actually be conducted. If Covid-19 is still widespread there will need to be extra safety precautions put in place to keep people safe. The idea of tens of thousands of people queueing in village halls around Wales seems like a recipe for an upsurge in cases and there have been suggestions that voting could be extended over several days or even put back until later in the year.
President Elect Joe Biden’s inauguration – January 20
The start of the year will be marked by the swearing in of the United States’ 46th President.
It will also be significant because Kamala Harris will also be sworn in as vice-president making her the first female vice-president, the highest-ranking female elected official in US history, and the first African-American and first Asian-American vice president.
Inaugurations are always big occasions but never before have we had one where the losing side has refused to concede the election. In perhaps the world’s largest hissy fit President Donald Trump has made totally unsubstantiated claims that the election was rigged and filed a series of failing lawsuits.
Though Trump has allowed the Biden team access to certain briefings as they prepare to take office he has been steadfast in his denial of his loss. When asked what would happen if Trump refused to leave the White House the Biden team issued a statement saying: “As we said on July 19 the American people will decide this election. And the United States government is perfectly capable of escorting trespassers out of the White House.”
United Nations climate summit – November 1-21
If we get anything right in 2021 it needs to be this.
The United Nations climate summit (known as COP26) is a global conference about climate change and how countries are going to tackle it. It was due to take place in Glasgow in November 2020 with more than 200 world leaders due to attend but it was postponed because of Covid.
The rescheduled event will still be in Glasgow and it will be the first time the UK will host the summit.
The event is widely regarded as the last opportunity for the world to cooperate to fulfil the global temperature targets set out by the Paris Agreement of 2016.
If we fail in this the results will be catastrophic. If the coronavirus crisis has taught us anything is that we have to act early on scientific advice – not wait till it is raining to try and fix the roof.
New post-Brexit relationship begins – January 1
For decades the UK has been a member of the EU but from the beginning of January this will be different. The UK will be going it alone. This new identity is not shaped in a referendum four years ago nor by the negotiations. It will be shaped by our actions as a nation both at home and on the international stage.
The turn of the year will mark the UK taking our first steps on our own for the first time since the 1970s and how we take those steps will be one of the big political stories of 2021.
Scottish elections – May 6
At the same time Wales is having elections to the Senedd the elections to the Scottish Parliament in Holyrood will also be taking place. The polls suggest that the pro-independence SNP are on course to win comfortably.
In the event they do not win an outright majority the pro-independence Green party could help them reach a majority of pro-independence MSPs.
Running on their pro-indy ticket it is highly likely that SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon will be able to claim a mandate for a second Scottish referendum on independence.
A referendum would need the approval of the UK Government but if it did go ahead all the polls suggest the support of independence is at an all-time high (though a yes vote is by no means guaranteed).
Either way, if Brexit is anything to go by, any debate and attempt to uncouple tightly-woven institutions and countries is likely to be complicated and contentious.
First anniversary of George Floyd’s killing – May 25
It was a killing that sparked protests across the world and led to the phrase ‘black lives matter’ becoming a rallying calling for action on ingrained institutional prejudice.
George Floyd, a 46-year-old black man, was killed in Minneapolis while being arrested for allegedly using a counterfeit bill. During the arrest Derek Chauvin knelt on his neck for about nine and a half minutes.
Floyd’s death saw protests break out across Wales and the wider UK in the midst of the first lockdown. It was a real flashpoint of the first wave of the pandemic.
It seems likely in 2021 that the anniversary of his death will be the catalyst for further protests – as will the trial of Chauvin, which is scheduled to start on March 8.
-- to www.walesonline.co.uk