Sweet and sour predictions
ALTHOUGH we are already into the New Year I hope it is not too late to try a bit of forecasting. I suspect that predictions come in two kinds, those you want to happen and those you expect to happen.
To make general "predictions" of the first kind is really rather idealistic, so I'll start with some home-based expectations.
Our goat is due to kid in March and she will duly present us with triplets, all nannies, thus seeing us well on the way to a small heard of dairy goats. The ducks will conveniently forget to have a rest from egg-laying this winter, so we will have fresh eggs all through the winter until spring, when the hens start up again. Spring itself will come early and autumn will be very lute and summer will be a delight. The long, hot days will remind us of 1976 except that this time we will have all the rain we need, considerately falling at night!
As a result the vegetables and fruit will yield handsomely and the mildews, rusts and bugs will all decide to emigrate to some distant uninhabited land. Even the dreaded whitelly will leave the tomatoes alone for once.
But what of more serious matters? One of the most important events will be the UN Conference on Trade and Development which has its fifth session (UNCTAD 5) in Manila in May.
Once again the Third World countries will be seeking a fairer share in the world economy but suspect that, in spite of OPEC's successes and repeated calls for Third World unity, the rich countries will be unwilling to concede anything of real value and the North-South dialogue will take one more step towards confrontation.
This may be accelerated by the early stages of another food crisis. The good harvests of the last two years have lulled the rich into a false sense of security, making us forget the problems of 1974.
It only needs a handful of important food-producing areas to have bad harvests for us to have a crisis developing once again — a crisis, that is, for the richer countries. For the poor of the world, with malnutrition a daily reality, it is a continuing crisis of survival.
One trend in the Third World which is gathering speed is the
greatly increased interest in selfreliance. The argument is that the rich world shows no real interest in getting off the backs of the poor, so the poor must get rid of the load. This may be the most significant trend of the century, and is certainly not in the interests of rich people like us. So what of Britain? At the end of 1979 unemployment and inflation will be higher than they are now, the stagnation will continue but there will be a further increase in the numbers of people seeking alternative ways of living. As the existing structures of society become unworkable, so new approaches will come to the fore.
This is not to pretend that the process will be without disagreements and even conflict, and if I have only one confident prediction to make it is that opposition to the nuclear power programme will grow remarkably rapidly. During the coming summer it will express itself in acts of civil disobedience on a scale unparalleled since the peak of the ban-the-bomb movement.
Curiously enough, this will happen without there being a single organised body like CND. There will be many different "affinity" groups involved but the lack of central organisation will not be a disadvantage. Most of the activity will centre on Torness in eastern Scotland, the site of a proposed nuclear power plant.
Indeed, Torness will become as famous in the late 1970s as Aldermaston did some 20 years ago. Whether the Aldermaston marches had much effect on the country is debateable, but things may be different with Torness and it could turn out to be the beginning of the end of Britain's nuclear power programme.