It’s been a tough year for so many people – the cost of living continues to rise and the economy continues to flat-line at best. Given that background, it might seem odd to argue that 2012 has been a good year for the coalition. But it has. Indeed, I would argue that 2012 is the year we rediscovered our self-confidence as a nation. And most of that is down to the enormous success of the Olympic and Paralympic Games – almost universally regarded as the greatest Games ever. Despite the difficult economic climate, the UK showed to the world that it’s still capable of delivering a massive event in a spectacular way. There’s also been some economic light at the end of the tunnel. We are right to celebrate the growth in private sector jobs. The coalition’s drive to encourage this seems to be bearing fruit, and it will hopefully facilitate ongoing recovery in 2013.
David Skelton is deputy director of Policy Exchange.
This year will be remembered for the double-dip recession – almost unthinkable 12 months ago. The coalition’s economic strategy took a major hit with the “omnishambles” budget, which quickly unravelled as taxes on pasties, caravans and grannies dominated the news. More seriously, the UK economy remains worryingly weak, with growth and wages still stagnant. While Michael Gove’s star shone even brighter, the government’s domestic agenda drifted, with decisions on childcare and social care kicked into 2013. The dynamics of coalition politics seem to be doing damage to both partners, with House of Lords reform and the boundary review both blocked as each side cancelled the other out. Ukip moved from the fringes of British politics towards the mainstream, overtaking the Lib Dems in the polls and causing much concern on the Tory backbenches.
Graeme Cooke is research director at the Institute for Public Policy Research.