It is that time of year when I dust off my trusty crystal ball and peer into the future for some predictions as to what might happen in 2017. Welcome to the special New Year edition of ‘Old Bill’s Almanac’.
The toughest forecast is what Donald Trump will do – because the man who takes up office as the 45th president of the United States next month prides himself on being unpredictable.
But one thing is certain – the hysterical reaction to his election from some quarters in the US is overblown.
Calm down guys! Trump is not Hitler and his followers are not Nazis and racists. Indeed many of them voted twice to elect a black president.
He is not going to build concentration camps and he won’t incarcerate gays and innocent Muslims. US citizens – both black and white – will continue to be among the richest and freest people on the planet and should consider themselves incredibly fortunate.
The reaction on the American left to the election result last month is a turbo-charged version of our own Project Whinge – the six-month long moan-fest by bitter Remainers upset at the Brexit vote.
What we have on both sides of the Atlantic is a positively unhinged tantrum from a generation of privileged cry babies who are used to always getting their way and who cannot accept they lost a democratic vote.
I’d like to see them grow up a bit and take defeat on the chin like proper adults, but I don’t expect that to happen in 2017. Brace yourselves for 12 more months of pathetic whining.
In international affairs Trump should be an improvement on the previous administration because, frankly, it is hard to envisage that anything could possibly be worse than Barack Obama, who is without doubt the weakest and most ineffectual US president in modern history.
Obama spent the last eight years bowing and scraping to bigots, like the despots of Iran, while stabbing our democratic allies and friends, like Israel, in the back.
At the very least Trump should prove a more reliable backer of Israel, which is on the front line in the war against jihadi terror and deserves our unwavering support.
On the economy Trump is often portrayed as a “right wing” leader, but his protectionist trade policy is right out of the socialist playbook.
Free market capitalism has lifted a billion people around the world out of extreme poverty over the last 20 years and if Trump starts erecting fences to trade there is a danger this progress will stall or even go into reverse.
Here in the UK our politics in 2017 will undoubtedly be dominated by Brexit. Expect a determined, rearguard action by petulant Remainiacs to frustrate last June’s vote by whatever means possible.
They are playing a very dangerous game – particularly if they use the unelected House of Lords to thwart the democratic will of 17.4 million people. If that happens expect intensified demands for the entire bloated and undemocratic relic to be swept away to be replaced by a much slimmer, directly elected upper chamber.
Either way Brexit will happen – not least because it is becoming increasingly clear that the EU in its unreformed state has no viable future.
The doomed Euro currency has been a huge catastrophe, plunging half the continent into poverty and unemployment and destroying the life chances of entire generations.
There is no hope of recovery for these benighted people while their blinkered politicians cling to the delusion of a United States of Europe.
Meanwhile, Angela Merkel’s frankly mad policy of inviting over a million young men of fighting age into Europe from the jihadi hotspots of the Middle East – without a single security check – has had the inevitable results that many of us predicted at the time.
I fear there will be many more terror attacks in 2017 – both big ‘spectaculars’ like Nice and Berlin, and smaller knife and axe attacks – as well as a relentless increase in sex assaults and other crimes that Germany has started to witness.
Both France and Germany face tricky elections in 2017. The key question is whether ordinary people have had enough of Merkel’s “cultural enrichment” yet? Do they want more of the same?
Opinion polls predict wins for the mainstream establishment – but if 2016 taught us anything it is to be sceptical about the accuracy of such polls.