Happy New Year, everybody! There is so much to celebrate! If we are wrap 2018 in a contextual statement, it would be ‘A remarkable year full of firsts’. From entertainment, politics, sport, business and the arts, we look back with encouragement and a dollop of excitement for what 2019 will bring.
Looking ahead to 2019, there is nothing more dominant in our minds than Brexit. Nothing quite dulls that anxious feeling of what may happen. For the leavers of Brexit, there is ‘the joy’ of ending free movement which means non-British people will no longer be coming into the UK to “take our jobs and our money”. For the remainers, there is anger, particularly those with spouses or lasting ties with members of EU countries.
Brexit has bred many mantras. One of the more popular ones recited by government ministers and Conservative hard Brexiteers is that an end to free movement is an essential element of any deal which respects the will of the people. Theresa May has repeatedly emphasised that an end to free movement is non-negotiable, and that retaining it “would not be keeping faith with the will of the people”.
On this, she is as one with her leading backbench critic Jacob Rees-Mogg, who said in January: “Free movement must end when we leave on 29th March, 2019. Otherwise we will not have taken back control in the way demanded by the referendum result.” Yet like many political mantras, this contains a grain of truth but oversimplifies a more complicated reality.
This year’s Manchester International Festival sees Janelle Monae open it at Castelfield. Now for those of you who know who this star is, this is big for Manchester. For those that are unaware of her, I request you to hit YouTube or Spotify and see what hot meals of music she serves. Idris Elba, remember him? The People’s Choice’s Sexiest Man of 2018; well he will be taking part in MIF 2019 too, along with Yoko Ono, Skepta and Kwameh Kwei-Armah. The biennial festival will open with another public event in the city centre, following on from last year’s curtain-raiser What Is The City But The People, which told the stories of 160 ordinary and extraordinary Mancunians as they walked across a catwalk in Piccadilly Gardens.
Manchester is known for its sport and music. For the past few decades, it is the former that has shone the light the most on our great city, with the boys in blue and red constantly taking turns to paint its streets either of those colours. Lately, the streets have been blue, following Guardiola’s solid team. However, the appointment of interim manager at Old Trafford, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, has somehow injected a revival chemical into the veins of Mourinho’s squad, resulting in back-to-back wins. There’s hope for the theatre of dreams, after all.
The gender pay gap figures were billed as the biggest legislative game-changer for working women since the Equal Pay Act made it illegal to pay people of different sexes differently for the same job in 1970.
And for once, the hype may not have been overstated. Groundbreaking legislation that forced companies to reveal their gender pay gaps in 2018 for the first time has had an immediate and wide-ranging effect, but companies are likely to come under increased pressure to narrow the gap in 2019, according to data and experts. For minorities, particularly black people, there is evidence showing that they are paid less than their white counterparts for the same role; if they even get offered the role in the first place. 2019 does look to be the year to plant seeds of change.
Anyway folks, there are lots of exciting and shocking stories in this edition for you. As always, take care and until next time, be humanly kind to others.
Wishing you and your loved ones a very prosperous new year.