24–7 predictions

Alastair Meeks
11 min readJan 1, 2024


The future is unwritten. Things can happen. In the first 23 years of the 21st century there have been two bona fide black swans (9/11 and Covid-19 ) and a good half dozen other grey swans — major events few foresaw even if in hindsight they were well within the sphere of possible outcomes. Anyone who claims they have guaranteed insights to the future is a fool. They may also be liars, but they’re certainly fools.

When we make predictions, we are really trying to apply Newton’s First Law of Motion to the current state of affairs. Outside forces can and will exert influences.


With this in mind, let’s look ahead. The best starting point for predictions is where we are right now. So where are we?

1. Britain’s economy is bumping along the bottom

The good news from 2023 is that Britain unexpectedly avoided a recession. The bad news is that there was essentially no growth and a recession in 2024 cannot be ruled out. Indeed, by the old-fashioned technical definition that we are now sternly told not to use, Britain may already be in recession.

Inflation rates have fallen — how could they not? The price for achieving this has been to squeeze all life out of the economy. Britain is up to its eyeballs in public debt.

Living standards have fallen for two years in a row. They are expected to fall again next year too. And while interest rates are also falling, they are still at a higher level than they were a couple of years ago, with the result that many mortgage holders coming off fixed rates are going to have a nasty upward jolt in their monthly payments.

2. Britain’s government is bumping along the bottom

Rishi Sunak’s government has actually declined in the polls this year — from 27–29% at the beginning of the year to 25–27% in the polls now. This can no longer be dismissed as mid term blues: this is end term.

The government began the year with five pledges and something approaching a sense of purpose as Rishi Sunak sought to cauterise the wound of Brexit and Northern Ireland. He has neither met his pledges nor got any credit for stabilising relations with the EU. Flip-flopping between sober government and scratchy populism, he has alienated natural supporters without convincing sceptics. His personal polling is now at the levels of Boris Johnson at the point he stepped down and is fast approaching Trussian depths.

3. Joe Biden’s popularity is bumping along the bottom

It is peculiar, but the US president is faring scarcely better than the UK government, despite presiding over a vibrant economy. Or perhaps not. As in Britain, living standards have suffered in recent years, even though the American economy (unlike the British economy) has done well.

Joe Biden is already extraordinarily old for the job. If I want to wind up my mum, who is the same age as him, I ask her whether she would like to be president of the USA (“NO I WOULD NOT”, she huffs). The American public have severe doubts about him doing this arduous and vital job for another four years.

4. Donald Trump has retained his devotees but his legal problems are closing in

The Trump juggernaut has so far crushed all of his rivals in front of it. It’s hard to feel sorry for them. They have almost all (with the exception of Chris Christie) tried to woo his supporters without working out how to detach them from their idol or even in most cases even trying. Unsurprisingly, they’ve decided that they’d rather have champagne than ginger beer.

Unless events intrude, Donald Trump securing the Republican nomination seems guaranteed. This is astonishing not just because of the many events in his past that would seem complete disqualifiers but also because he now seems old, unfit and to be mentally deteriorating.

Events, however, are certain to intrude, mostly in the form of court cases. He is currently fighting cases in Georgia, New York, Washington DC, Florida, Maine and Colorado, with the possibility of prison time for him in some of these and the possibility of being debarred from presidential candidacy in others. He is increasingly reliant on the loyalty of appointees in the Supreme Court to keep his head above water. Given that those appointees have no future obligation to him, that is not a particularly comfortable position for him to be in.

As an aside, one of Donald Trump’s biggest problems is self-inflicted. By stiffing so many lawyers’ bills, he has ensured that only C-list lawyers are willing to do work for him. This means that the arguments put on his behalf are often poorly constructed with mediocre strategy on his behalf.

5. The Ukraine-Russia war has reached an unstable equilibrium

The frontline has scarcely moved in 2023. Given that neither side has unlimited troops or resources and that the frontline is well over 1000 miles long, this seems unsustainable for any length of time.

Ukraine cannot win without further support from its western allies. However, Russia cannot win unless that support is wound down. You can tell this by the way in which Russia is seeking by all means to undermine that support. This is now a battle of wills between the West and Russia. Russia thinks it can win this battle.

6. Election battles will not be fought in the media: members of the public will choose the media that suits their preferred choices

In the past, the public’s take on political matters was drawn from an agreed set of facts (albeit with different interpretations) on given controversies of the moment. That age has passed. Now the public choose which facts they get to hear, based on pre-formed opinions. Should any inconvenient facts get through the filtration process, they will be explained away.

We have already seen our first AI deepfakes of politicians. We shall see a lot more of them this year. The deepfakes themselves will be pernicious but the really pernicious thing about them will be to enable every revelation that runs counter to one grouping’s worldview to be discounted as a deepfake.

As a consequence, changing the views of the public is going to get steadily harder for politicians in future.


OK, enough about the present. What of the future?

1. The UK general election date will be 12 December 2024

I’ve already gone through my reasoning for this once before. The government has spent the last week or so hinting that the election might follow an early budget and be held on 2 May 2024. I don’t buy it. The government doesn’t have the money to give away (I’m sure someone in Number 10 or 11 remembers the Liz Truss experience). Unless polling improves markedly in the next few weeks, and there’s no obvious reason why it would, Rishi Sunak will wait. He’s just keeping its options open for now.

I explained in my previous piece the dangers of the British election getting entangled with the US election. There’s another danger with an October election I didn’t mention in that piece. The election period would neatly coincide with two year anniversaries of various Liz Truss catastrophes. That would give Labour a ready-made grid that they would be sure to exploit.

So I think the government will go very late. The Times today suggests that Isaac Levido has pencilled in 14 November 2024 for the election date. Perhaps. I doubt we’ll read it in the Times 11 months in advance. Anyway, for reasons of consistency I’ll stick to my original guess.

2. Rishi Sunak will not be challenged before the election

This is a braver prediction than it might look. Rishi Sunak is a busted flush. The public have sized him up and found him wanting. He originally offered technocratic competence. With his gyrations, he doesn’t even offer that any more.

Rishi Sunak is a good example of a politician who would have been much better served by spending more years being weathered with experience. He came to Parliament in 2015. He entered the Cabinet in four years, he was Chancellor of the Exchequer less than five years after becoming an MP and he became Prime Minister just seven years after becoming an MP. He has never served in opposition and he has never run a spending department.

It shows. He lacks any understanding of the assets side of the balance sheet and he too obviously has no carapace. He is obviously inexperienced under fire. As a result, he has gone from avoidable pratfall to avoidable pratfall, lost his nerve and vacillated. The public have given up on him.

Should the Conservatives replace him? If there were a better candidate, yes. But there isn’t. The alternatives are either less able or even less experienced. Do you really think Kemi Badenoch (for example), who entered Parliament in 2017 and Cabinet under Liz Truss, is really ready? She leads with her chin and, with a public ill-disposed to the government to start with, the chances are high that she would be flat on the canvas in very short order.

So the Conservatives probably should stick with Rishi Sunak, faute de mieux. And they probably will. There will, however, be plenty of grumblings.

3. Labour will win a thumping majority and it could be absolutely enormous

The Conservatives are pulling every lever they can just now — tax cuts, spending cut traps, stories about Sir Keir Starmer’s unbelievable past as a barrister — and none of them are working. None of them look likely to work.

First, most of the public have made up their minds about the Conservatives. They think they’re duffers (at best), and pretty unpleasant ones at that.

Secondly, Don’t Let Labour Ruin It isn’t a great slogan when people are worse off than they were at the last election.

Thirdly, the Conservatives have still failed to articulate any kind of prospectus for the next Parliament.

Fourthly, the Conservatives will find it increasingly difficult to reach the voters they need to get to. They aren’t buying their newspapers, they aren’t watching their news. They’re taking their DailyMe and that’s serving up stories of Conservative corruption and incompetence just now.

Labour aren’t wowing the public. Indeed, their ratings have been drifting down in recent weeks, perhaps as some on the left look for alternatives, dismayed at their pusillanimity over Gaza. But when it comes to it, the next election for the central mass of voters is going to be about Conservative failures. They are going to vote to kick out the bums. The kick is going to be massive.

It doesn’t matter that Labour don’t inspire and that Sir Keir Starmer generates as much excitement as Ovaltine. You might need to be a Classics race winner to beat most thoroughbreds. To beat a three-legged donkey, it suffices to be a carthorse. Indeed, the margin of victory will be bigger in the second race than the first. Sir Keir Starmer may not be in the same class as Tony Blair. But Rishi Sunak is much further beneath Sir John Major.

I expect the polls to converge around the sort of numbers Opinium have been producing, as the Don’t Knows return to their previous homes (Opinium assume this already). That’s not inevitable, as the Conservatives still need to make a pitch to their Don’t Knows. With ordinary competence they should be able to do this, but the Conservatives haven’t displayed much ordinary competence for at least two years.

Either way, I expect a lot of tactical voting against the Conservatives. Seat predictors are likely to underestimate the effect of this by perhaps as many as 50 seats.

I suppose I should make some kind of prediction. Here goes:

Labour: 403

Con: 168

Lib Dems: 28

SNP: 28

PC: 4

Speaker: 1

NI: 18

4. Donald Trump will be the Republican candidate for the presidency

This sounds like a very safe prediction. It is in fact one that I have low confidence in. I expect him to lose several of his court cases, including cases going to the Supreme Court. Donald Trump may have stuffed the Supreme Court with his appointees but once appointed they have no obligation to him. Almost all judges care most about ideas, not people. While I’m sure they will do Donald Trump any favour they can, in the last analysis they won’t warp their decisions to fit one man. Dobbs is not Trump.

If Donald Trump loses the cases around the 14th amendment — and I think he very well might (at least one Trump appointee to the Supreme Court, Neil Gorsuch, has opined that states have the power to determine eligibility for federal elections) — this will certainly complicate his candidacy. In those states that choose to debar him from the ballot, he may seek to get a proxy (perhaps Donald Trump Jnr) to stand as a presidential candidate. This may not be possible in every case because of state time limits for filing candidacies and other procedural requirements. I do think he will keep going.

It is very possible that Donald Trump will be convicted of criminal charges and face prison time. You won’t find many Trump supporters in a Washington DC jury pool, for example.

While any of it should be enough to stop his candidacy dead in its tracks, none of it will. The 2024 election looks set to be even more of a fiasco than 2020.

5. Joe Biden will be re-elected

This is also a prediction I have low confidence in. For starters, if Donald Trump is not the Republican candidate, I expect Joe Biden to withdraw, no matter how late in the process this happens.

Assuming it’s Joe Biden vs Donald Trump, it’s going to be close. As noted above, the public choose their own news nowadays. There are lots of voters who are unreachable for their opponents no matter how awful the other candidate might be.

The US economy looks set to do reasonably well in 2024, this should start being felt more fully in people’s pockets and that should, I think, be just enough to turn the polling numbers around in Joe Biden’s favour.

Much of next year’s campaign looks set to be about Donald Trump. The general rule is that the candidate the election is about is the losing candidate. I weakly expect that rule to be followed.

6. Funds will be found in the West for Ukraine

It’s too obviously in the West’s interests for Russia’s military to be ground down in Ukraine for the West to stop it. Means will be found. If the Republicans don’t cooperate with Joe Biden in Congress, I expect he will sidestep it, perhaps by releasing frozen Russian funds to the Ukrainians to buy weaponry. This would be a very bad precedent, but if needs must, needs will.

7. The world at the end of 2025 will feel even less safe than it does now

The US election does not look likely to be a festival of democracy, to put it mildly. We are seeing the consequences of 6 January 2021 play out. A failed coup without consequences is simply a dress rehearsal.

The conflicts in Ukraine and Gaza look set to get still worse in the coming year. In Ukraine, hundreds of thousands more will die. In Gaza there is the increasing sense that we are watching ethnic cleansing at work while doing nothing: no provocation, no matter how appalling, justifies that.

Meanwhile the Sahel looks set to destabilise still further, incidentally enabling the waves of migrants coming north from Africa to Europe to continue and perhaps even grow in number.

And no one in the West is articulating any kind of vision of how to set conditions for more order. It is that absence of vision that is most concerning of all.

Happy New Year.