A few 2015 predictions no doubt swiftly to be proven wrong.
On the usual themes of politics, foreign policy and technology:
General Election 2015:
Fact – the exchequer has never managed to part the nation from more that 38% of GDP in the form of tax on any sustained basis. Right now, post-crisis, we are taking 42% (and spending even more), so outside a determined ideological u-turn we can expect this to fall back to the trend over the next few years.
Implication – Now, is that enough raw cash to enable your ambitions for government intervention? If not; are you willing to campaign on a manifesto for more taxes to do more good things?
Tory coalition with the DUP and SNP. Supply and confidence will be fine for the SNP, they just need to agree the budget to safeguard their block-grant.
Government: 301 Tory / 24 SNP / 09 DUP
Opposition: 271 Labour / 30 Lib-Dem / 03 SDLP
Other: 05 SinnFein / 03 Plaid / 01 Alliance / 02 UKIP / Green 01
UKIP will squeeze tory and labour vote, but will only hold Carwells’ seat and one northern Labour seat. Greens will squeeze both Labour and Lib-dems, but get just one. SNP will squeeze both Labour and Lib-Dem’s, making huge gains, but remain the second largest Scottish party. Tories will benefit from economic competence at a time of euro-instability, but be hampered by boundaries. Labour will be ham-strung by their leader and their policy guns being spiked by the tories.** The Lib-Dem’s will barely hold their credibility as 0.5 party in a 2.5 party system with 30 seats.
The key point here is that Labour cannot win as it has not answered the question; without money to spend what is the purpose of the party? This is why they are being squeezed by everyone, and the boundary advantage cannot change that fate.
** i.e. mansion tax: “You want a mansion tax after stamp duty was made more progressive and fair? Yes, but, we think its right idea…. Why, how is it better than stamp duty? Ahem, they, urghh, stole our idea, but a Mansion tax is better. How…?”
EU debate shifts from the trivia of rebates and quotas to collective action for a common destiny:
What we are really talking about is [representative] democracy. People get overly hung up on the latter word, forgetting that it is only a procedural mechanism to achieve the former. This explained, we can tackle the real objection to the increasing using of democratic mechanisms in the EU: it does not represent!
The very core of representative democracy is the the principle of free association, where we collectively assent to common rule, and agree to be bound by acts taken in your name, even if you preferred person doesn’t get in. We assent and agree because we recognise that we share sufficiently convergent and compatible aims and expectations that common actions will result in a stronger result that on balance betters achieves those goals, rather than a lowest common denominator compromise that please no one.
This is where a supranational EUrope (rather than the intergovernmental EEC we thought we joined), fails; for many people do [not] recognise a sufficiently convergent and compatible aims and expectations to assent to common rule, and thus will [not] agree to be bound by acts taken in their name. Thus EU democratic mechanisms – with the implied legitimacy to EU rule – are a threat to good governance, leading to a reduced welfare and wellbeing for [all] the peoples of europe.
This is not to say that people do not see the benefit of freely cooperating and collaborating nations in europe seeking common goals where it is desirable. They absolutely do, but the key words there are “freely” and “desirable”.
With the importance of identity fresh in the mind courtesy of the Scottish referendum, as well as the lingering distaste for the endless minutia or legal and economic formula, this is where the debate will go.
SDSR15 – Of guns and butter:
“Real terms increases in the Defence equipment budget from 2015 on.” Remember those words, I wouldn’t bet on them being met.
Inflation is below 1.0% right now with growth north of 2.5%, but by the time of the current comphrehensive spending review period (2017?), those two figures will be practically identical at ~2.4% apiece. The budget settlement will retarded once more to make space for yet more austerity, and with the draw-down of operational costs in Afghanistan the only brake on this descent in Defence spending from ~2.2% of GDP will be embarrassment about sinking beneath the Nato threshold of 2.0%. With relatively healthy growth in the medium term you can bet the Treasury will resent even that Generosity given the pressures on other departmental spending.
What will they do in response to the perpetual drama of newspaper headlines about under-investment? They’ll repackage old decisions and point to equipment orders whose core decisions were known (if not yet made) well before the election. The second carrier will be brought into service, albeit as a rolling replacement for essential maintenance on the first. Britain will also return to Maritime reconnaissance with a decision to lease a small and growing fleet of P8A aircraft (as was done with the excellent transport aircraft). There will be tinkering around the edges with other services in numbers and equipment, but nothing as significant from the point of view of political messaging.
Nato europe – stretching resources:
British will deepen its partnerships with the Nordic countries by offering strategic enablers and C3 integration for NORDEFCO, but it will do as much to push Germany into doing the same for the Visegrad group of Central European nations, and France to act as a hub for military integration for the austerity-wrecked military’s of the south. Importantly, in all three cases the purpose will stretch beyond NATO members, creating trans-region partnerships of different geometries in the different regions. North to formalise the informal, east to stabilise the buffer zone, and south project power down into Africa. Germany, keen to see NATO return to article 5 from its gap-year in military adventures, will be happy to feed the Visgerad preoccupation with territorial defence, not least as a signal in turning away from Russia. Notionally the south will be coordinated with Italy, but we’ll all know the truth, and a tricolor branded exercise conducted with drama and elan will remind us if France thinks we’re in danger of forgetting.
AMD has a tough year:
20nm is no good for high complexity/high-wattage chips. AMD’s high revenue / high margin products are enthusiast grade GPU’s and and APU’s. There lies the conundrum for AMD. Yes, they can release big-chip laptop parts with a lot of transistors but low wattage, they can expand their ARM products into the many transistors but low wattage space, and likewise designing Console SoC’s pays the cost of high-end design capabilities…. but to what end? We’re due to hear from AMD in Feb/March on a their new plans for the future. My guess is the acceleration of the 16nm fin-fet process necessary to keep the GPU’s relevant in the performance-mainstream arena with Nvidia Maxwell at 20nm, and likewise to give them a room to field competitive mid-range products against Intel Broadwell. Performance-mainstream and mid-range. The implications of this are a return to small-die GPU’s versus Nvidia (think 4870 era), and limiting themselves to competing against s1150 from Intel (i.e. no s2011 ambitions). They will invest enough in design to stay competitive, but for the primary purpose of feeding its convergence technologies such as HSA, not leadership in existing markets.
Eastern mobile giants see Jolla Sailfish as a key differentiation in tough foreign markets:
Oppo/OnePlus wants in to the 1bn+ indian market, it looks to Sailfish. Lenovo has a lot of design talent but no entry point to compete with Xiomi et-al, so it picks Sailfish. Nokia wants back into the mobile business, but not to be part of the android rat-race, it looks next door. What of the US…? Abandoned, to third party imports. For Jolla the question is not over whether a Jolla2 arrives, but whether or not it feels its needs a Jolla3 to further demonstrate Sailfish to third parties. TheOtherHalf dies a quiet death, being of little interest to licensees, and having served its primary purpose in grabbing pre-launch attention to a very small fish in a very big sea.
Merry Xmas all.
Update 04/01/2015 – Seems like I’m remarkably close to the average poll of opinion polsters (see graphic). Tory – 273 / Labour – 301 / Lib-Dem – 26 / SNP – 22 / UKIP – 5 / Plaid – 3 / Green – 1
Update 07/03/2015 – Sailfish seen running on a OnePlus One – http://mobile.softpedia.com/blog/Jolla-s-Sailfish-OS-Spotted-Running-on-the-OnePlus-One-475093.shtml
Update 03/07/2015 – AMD’s new GPU is a big-die built on 28nm. Lol at me.
Update 30/06/2017 – Britain builds its northern european expeditionary group