2011, The Year of the Rabbit is almost upon us, representing diplomacy, politicians and sensitivity, the latter contradicting the first two and typical of those mysterious Chinese, as they move another step further in their conquest of the World.
Meanwhile, our own sensitive politicians in the Coalition government, will have to toughen up and prepare for the UK's own 2011 Year of the Protest. The share price may have reached a 30-month high, but it fails to warm the hearts of those who, just as bankers are about to celebrate their bonuses, will, one way or another, be victims of public spending cuts.
Job losses and social benefit cuts will impact on families and friends and there will be anger if, as the Archbishop of Canterbury implies, the rich get richer and there isn't a "willingness to bear the load together". Even those currently in jobs, are finding their standard of living threatened by pay freezes, loss of pension rights and bosses using financial uncertainties to push through changes in working conditions.
Students are up in arms over tuition fees and this subject alone gives opposition forces a platform for protest. The violence during recent protests has benefited the government, because the majority of the population would have been disgusted by images of police horses attacked, broken shop windows and damaged memorials, especially those in remembrance of the war dead. Militant student leaders, appearing at press conferences with their childish and outdated rages against the establishment, have discredited the student protests, but it is likely that 2011 will see even more marches and violence.
The protests against companies perceived as dodging UK taxes will continue, but this form of protest could backfire, with some firms reluctant to invest further in the UK. Those targeted by protesters, like Sir Philip Green are powerful forces within the retail trade and his companies provide thousands of jobs up and down the country.
Jobs feed into the tax system and if Sir Philip and his kind manage somehow to utilise legal laws to avoid personal tax bills, then he is only doing what the rest of us would do, if only we could afford it. He and others like him are not breaking the law, although perhaps governments have not been fair in the distribution of the tax burden. As the Archbishop says there is a sense that "the most prosperous have yet to shoulder their load".
The Coalition has a tough job on its hand, but people do shoot the messenger and in the case of this government, it does appear that it is the Liberal Democrats who appear to be bearing the brunt of the population's fear and frustration. David Cameron has more or less escaped personal censure, but eventually he will have to take prime ministerial responsibility for the government's actions and there are those in his own party primed to play Brutus should the going get really tough. The knives may not come out for Cameron personally, but aimed instead at the Coalition partner.
Trade Unions are busy seeking new members and it is possible that militancy will flourish in the coming year. The Royal Wedding may supply a crumb of relief for the peasantry in April, but could the thousands on the streets of London wishing William and Catherine well, be the same people to take to the streets in protest against the hardships of the cuts?
For now, the Labour Party cannot relinquish its responsibility for the mess the Coalition inherited and its political and moral authority is busted for now. Opposition to the government may need to come from outside (or, even an unknown within the Labour movement?) and the right person could well harness the energy of those prepared to challenge the government. The hope is that such a personality will emerge from the politics of the positive and not from the shadows of the extreme.