2020: A Year in Review
Every year, the Mallard asks its contributors to reflect on the last twelve months, and the next twelve to come. We are very grateful that this year, as terrible as it may have been, the Mallard has increased its presence and expanded its content enormously. We would like to thank every contributor, reader and supporter for their assistance in helping this small but important publication stay afloat.
Dr. Rakib Ehsan, Research Fellow at the Henry Jackson Society
2020 will mark one of the UK’s most difficult years for some time in terms of race relations. Following the police homicide of George Floyd in the US state of Minnesota, the UK witnessed a wave of Black Lives Matter (BLM) demonstrations.
Unfortunately, these protests contributed towards an increase in assaults on police officers, the defacing of Sir Winston Churchill’s statue in Parliament Square, and the attempting burning of the Union Flag at the Cenotaph. BLM is responsible for destabilising race relations and undermining the broader anti-racist cause. It has alienated those who are serious about racial equality but do not see their own country as a fundamentally evil entity.
Now is the time for patriotic social democrats to take a stand, push back on radical identity politics, and provide an uplifting vision for a post-Brexit Britain based on social cohesion, mutual respect, and equality of opportunity.
Georgia L. Gilholy, Mallard Assistant Editor
The calendar year 2020 will come to a well-earned end at 00:00 AM January 1st, 2021. Obviously. But will the “spirit” of 2020 be done away with so easily? Even once vaccination programs are rolled out far and wide, it is clear that the relationship between the person and the state in the United Kingdom has once again been inextricably shifted. The future of the developing world seems particularly bleak if vaccines are, as is very likely, made the predication for trade and travel. At least 90% of people in 67 low-income countries stand little chance of getting vaccinated against Covid-19 in 2021 due to the buying up of stocks by wealthier nations.
Elements of the 1920s were characterised by a youthful enthusiasm wrought on by the loss of millions of youths in a brutal war. Predictably, this energy has been immortalised by a host of creatives from contemporaries like Waugh and Fitzgerald to the hindsight of Julian Fellowes. Though I would in no way compare the First World War to the Coronavirus pandemic- and the bungled responses to it- the 2020s will take a leaf out of our predecessors’ books and live a little bit more to the full once we are “allowed” to again. Yet we have learnt to be alone as many generations have not. We have let big government proscribe every area of our lives. Many of us have celebrated the perceived superiority of governments that imprison citizen journalists and pursue cultural and demographic genocides, whilst celebrating so-called “International democracy” at the United Nations.
In Europe and the US political polarisation rages on. Academia and the media continue down a path of toxic insularity that explains away objectivity. Genocides are ongoing against minorities in China, Myanmar and the Middle East. The 1920s ended in disaster and despotism. Let us hope that this decade does march toward the same grisly fate.
Mario Laghos, Just Debate Editor
In searching for the words to describe 2020, I can only lean on that great Kazakh philosopher, Borat Sagdiyev, in his appraisal of his tour of the United States:
‘There were good times, great times, and there were shit times. Mostly there were shit times.’
Being full of vim and vigour for the roaring 2020s to come, we were brought down to earth by the Coronavirus. Imprisoned in our homes like some extended edition of Big Brother for an unknown alien observer, an entire year has come and gone in record time.
If there is a lesson we can impress on ourselves, it’s to never waste a day. Though we have been robbed of time this year, endeavour that from hereon every day will count. Do something productive, and don’t let another year slip by. Maybe in absorbing that lesson, the lockdown year will have been a price worth paying.
Jacob Groet, Mallard Contributor
Much has been spoken of this year in mainstream politics about the ‘culture war’ sparked in the wake of racial tension and protest- the West’s ‘Summer of Discontent.’ What started off as protests in the US quickly spread over the pond- as all American issues tend to do these days.
However, the Black Lives Matter protests have manifested themselves differently in the UK. Sure, we had initial protests and some rioting, but the tone was far different than that in the US: Primarily, the political fallout of these events in the UK has been in our cultural institutions. Suddenly- and with very tenuous justification- museums, art galleries, libraries, civic spaces and public bodies began to rapidly alter their content, policies and governance to the ‘new context’ that BLM had given them. Even the National Trust, the BBC Proms and the Church of England eagerly joined in this cultural coup d’état.
The specifics of the changes all these institutions made is not the point here- you know them well by now. The point is that came all at the same time, in the same key. In perfect harmony, the symphony orchestra of Britain’s cultural institutions played a tune that would attempt to force a shift in culture decidedly leftward.
Unfortunately, they played too loud- and we heard them. On this rare occasion it was actually possible to see and hear the culture war- the way it is fought, and won, by the leftists who control our cultural and political institutions. For the first time the British people were able to see, plainly, that the institutions they always regarded as benign, apolitical, organisations were in fact directed by a powerful minority of political activists who all read from the same left-wing sheet music.
Our cultural institutions are not benign, or neutral. The culture war began a long time ago, and many are only just waking up to that fact now. If you were one of them- good. Don’t forget this year or what happened, because the march leftward won’t stop until you do something about it.
Mark Correa, Mallard Contributor
For me, this year has been one of development, realisation, and learning. I have graduated from University, began postgraduate study, and taken on new responsibilities that I can only be grateful for. It has also been a grindingly tough year at times, and I hope that normality will be resumed early on in the new year, for our collective sanity.
For Britain, this year has been an unequivocal tragedy. However, I think there is a lot to be optimistic for in the year ahead. There will be many economic opportunities that will arise for us as a people, and it is up to us to innovate and take advantage of the new position we find ourselves in. For all the despair that circulates in the media, there is an awful lot of good in this world. The right should champion that in 2021.
William Yarwood, Mallard Contributor
It is insufferably cliche to point out how awful 2020 was. And yet it needs pointing out; 2020 was a gargantuan trainwreck of a year.
We had radical leftists setting cities alight and tearing down statues, a polarising and brutal Presidential election in the US that will have ramifications – both nationally and globally – for years to come; and, of course, COVID-19 polluting everyone’s existence and enabling government overreach into our private lives considered inconceivable, in so-called ‘liberal’ countries, by many. I reiterate; 2020 was a gargantuan trainwreck of a year.
The situation is dire and I offer you nothing in the form of hope. “Optimism is cowardice” as the great German historian and philosopher Oswald Spengler once proclaimed. So I call on you, dear reader, to deal with the current predicament in the only way that you can; by going through it.
Ben Thompson, Mallard Contributor
2020 will go down in history as one of ‘those years’. Much like 1989, 2011 and 2016, this year looks to be a turning point in numerous ways.
It initially started with some degree of optimism from conservatives, as we saw the United Kingdom leave the EU in January. But that soon came screeching to a halt with the advance of Coronavirus, and the shortcomings of our government were all too clear.
Amidst muddled advice, government officials breaking their own rules and draconian measures, the people in Britain have had their faith in competent governance shrunk to a new low.
The ‘unity’ that initially rose up in the early days of the pandemic was quite revealing. What activity was it that brought us together?
Clapping for carers.
A nation that can only find itself uniting over a healthcare service is one in serious need of ‘me-time’ and reevaluation.
Even with our allies, we missed crucial opportunities to unite. A schoolteacher was beheaded by Islamists in Paris, and we didn’t hear a word about it from our elected officials for weeks. At a time when we have tense relationships with our continental allies, it was pretty shocking that our government missed a chance to take a stand for freedom of speech.
In 2021, I hope that we do a lot of soul searching about our place in the world and what it is that binds us together in these isles. Clapping, ringing bells and banging pans won’t suffice in a fast changing world.
Sarah Stook, Mallard Assistant Editor
2020 started with Australian wildfires, the assassination of a major Iranian general and the Pope snatching his hand from a worshipper. It ended with…a lot more.
How has conservatism fared this year?
After a smashing victory that saw the Conservatives win an 80 seat majority in December 2019, it was thought everything would be promising for Boris Johnson and co. Unfortunately, the COVID-19 outbreak showed a weaker side of the party, and government in general. Brexit was not sorted until the 11th hour, but was still a victory nonetheless.
The whirlwind Presidential election of 2020 saw Republicans score major victories down ballot, but a loss that Donald Trump has not hesitated to cry foul at. Will Trump stepping down reinvigorate the traditional conservatism in the Republican Party or is right wing populism here to stay?
Samuel Martin, Mallard Contributor
It is impossible to reflect upon 2020 without recalling that eternally cursed Boris Johnson tweet, confidently stating: “2020 is going to be a fantastic year for Britain”. As everyone knows by now, 2020 has been anything but fantastic. Just when we thought we had escaped the debilitating omnipresent dullness of Brexit; we were subjected to the new debilitating omnipresent dullness of “STAY AT HOME” and “PROTECT R EN-AICHE-ESS”.
Making Covid predictions has thus far been effective at setting oneself up for ridicule, but it seems 2021 is the year we may return to something resembling normalcy. Whilst I understand the desire to “RETVRN”, it is insufficient. Every disaster warrants reflection and redirection, and I’m sure many expect change to come in one form or another.
With the new year inbound, Rightists should be looking to conquer the new frontier that is presented before us. In the words of Kennedy: “change is the law of life, and those who look only to the past or the present are certain to miss the future”. Let us make it our mission to harness this law for ourselves and set course for the future we righteously desire.
Jake Scott, Mallard Editor
I have left it to my good friends to discuss the last year in terms of politics and events. Lord knows they have had enough to discuss, and yet surprisingly little. The seemingly interminable lockdown – who could forget that we had only two weeks to flatten the curve – has flattened everything else in politics in its wake. Despite this, a Brexit deal at the eleventh hour and a highly contested Presidential Election were a suitable manner for rounding off the year.
Here, at Mallard HQ however, we’ve had a good year. Since the beginning of March, we have had daily content, with the exception of Sundays, as well as launching our first ever essay competition, a series of podcasts, and held our first online event (of many, we hope).
I want to thank every single contributor, reader and supporter who has helped us through what was, at times, a truly terrible year. If you enjoy the work we do, and would like to keep us going, please do consider donating.
Here’s to 2021.