Trainees Take on 2020
RPC's trainees had mixed fortunes in attempting to predict the major events of 2019. As can be seen from our 2019 predictions blog, Theresa May's departure was correctly predicted, but the trainees were well wide of the mark in forecasting Beto O'Rourke as the frontrunner for the Democratic nomination for the US Presidency: Beto suspended his campaign on November 1 2019, a full four months before primary season. No one foresaw the UK's first December general election since 1923 either, which is perhaps more forgivable.
RPC's trainees proved much better at predicting the sporting fortunes of England's football-playing women than its rugby-playing men in their respective World Cups. All but one trainee predicted Steph Houghton would lead England to the semi-finals, which she duly did before England were overcome by eventual champions, the USA. Only one lone trainee predicted Eddie Jones' team would make the final. And finally, none of the longed-for reunions of Destiny's Child, One Direction or Oasis came to materialise; indeed, the release of successful new solo albums by Harry Styles and Liam Gallagher suggests that the reunions may be some way off yet. So, a mixed bag. But undeterred, RPC's trainees have compiled their predictions for 2020 below.
Following a somewhat rocky year for UK politics, the RPC trainees are hoping for a quieter 2020. With the details of Brexit keeping politicians and the civil service occupied, it will come as a great relief to all of us that (if trainees are correct) the UK isn't about to go to war with Iran. However, as one politically astute trainee suggested, we are unlikely to see an end to proxy warfare any time soon. If you had a 2020 trip to the Gulf of Oman planned, you might want to think again.
In the wake of Labour's dismal election results, the majority of trainees have played it safe and backed Keir Starmer to win the Labour leadership race. One trainee predicted that the successful leadership candidate would be Diane Abbott. Could it be possible that (despite not running) Ms Abbott has won the hearts and minds of the Labour membership by smuggling a can of M&S Mojito mix onto the Overground? One Twitter user gushed that they had never felt more represented.
When asked about the most likely political scandal, trainees thought Boris Johnson and Jacob Rees Mogg were likely suspects. Other suggestions included a constitutional crisis when Harry & Megan enter the Love Island Villa (a potential Casa Amor special?) or a revelation that the EU referendum results turned out to be another statistics fudge.
For the thrill seekers amongst you, following US politics is like a rollercoaster that never ends – no matter how much you wish it would. Amidst a colourful cast of weird and wonderful characters, including Adam "Shifty" Schiff, "Cryin' Chuck" Schumer, "Crazy Nancy" Pelosi and big T himself, our trainees considered how many Republicans, if any, would break party lines on the Senate impeachment hearing. At the top end, one trainee thought five would turn their backs on the President whereas the majority thought only two or three would break ranks. It has since transpired that only one did.
This feeds into the next question our trainees considered: how many seats would the Republicans lose or gain in the election this year? The RPC trainees were fairly split on this, with some predicting a handful of losses, others a handful of gains. One trainee took a stab in the dark and predicted a Democratic surge with the Republicans losing 50 seats. No matter the ultimate result, the real winners are those fortunate few whose election memes on social media go viral – earning fame and glory for a day or two.
The trainees also considered which candidate was most likely to win the Democratic Party presidential primaries. Joe Biden was the trainees' favourite, clearly showing that even if your son is caught up in some (alleged) naughtiness in Ukraine, it can't hurt your chances too badly. A couple felt some socialist pangs and fancied Bernie Sanders as the candidate to take it home for the Dems. One dreamer believed in Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez's vision for America (despite not running), another allied themselves with Andrew Yang's "Yang Gang".
Now that the UK has left the EU, it seemed apt to ask the RPC trainees about their all-time favourite module at law school – EU law. The trainees were unanimous in their view that EU law modules are unlikely to be scrapped from the LLB or GDL courses. Our ever-practical trainees recognise that EU law is likely to remain relevant in a post-Brexit era, so it is probably wise that budding lawyers continue to get to grips with Factortame and Cassis de Djion.
Later this year, High Court sentencings on high-profile cases will be televised. This follows on from the routine broadcast of proceedings in the Supreme Court (find us a trainee who didn't watch 'bundle-gate' unfold in the Supreme Court prorogation proceedings last year). When asked whether televised High Court sentencings would get more views than Love Island in 2020, one trainee suggested this would only happen if the Defendants turn up in bikinis or trunks and the Judge delivers the verdict by text. Other trainees were more realistic and just said 'no'.
We also asked the RPC trainees whether trial-by-combat would be permitted. Some were hopeful, attracted by the realisation that this would mean a lot less bundling. Would trials be fought à la Gladiators with helmets, giant cotton ear buds, and a live courtroom audience?
Greggs introduced a vegan sausage roll in January 2019. Some were happy that Greggs were providing a wider range of dietary options, some didn't care, and some breakfast TV hosts choked on their cornflakes at the idea. Whatever your view, the results from Greggs' perspective were hot and delicious: sales surpassed £1 billion for the first time and its market value surged by around 75% in 2019.
Following Greggs' 2019 successes, we decided to ask our trainees which fast food product would be the next to be successfully veganized. The Big Mac was a popular choice, as was the Chicken Legend (also from McDonald's) with the added challenge of vegan mayo. Quite why one trainee identified the Scotch egg – a product that literally consists of an egg wrapped in meat – as the next in line to be veganized currently escapes us. Finally, by far and away the most disturbing suggestion, was "chicken wings with recyclable bones." Incidentally, Recyclable Bones are the trainees' top tip for "Biggest Midwestern American Post-Metal Band" of 2020.
Many have started to examine their eating habits out of environmental concerns. Travel habits are also under the spotlight: Greta Thunberg's decision to sail from Europe to NYC to speak at the UN in September 2019 brought discussions around "flight shaming" into the mainstream. We asked our trainees if these concerns would mean that trains would replace planes as the principal means of international transport. Most trainees very strongly believed that they would not, citing convenience, expense and time. Despite a year of unprecedented environmental activism, the prevailing mood amongst the RPC trainees seems to be that the desire for a week in the sun will trump concerns over saving the planet.
There's been a lot of hype around driverless cars over the last couple of years – will they reach the mass market in 2020? This question attracted a range of responses – from a pessimistic 'they are a danger to man and society' to a yes on the condition that 'they promise to parallel park successfully every time'. One trainee considered that people who have enough money to afford new technology are probably more likely to spend it on flashy supercars. Looks like that driverless DMC DeLorean is still very much in the future.
The trainees were slightly more optimistic about the prospects of seeing the first 3D printed organ transplant in 2020, with most of us believing that it would at least be practiced on animals this year. One pointed out that 3D printers have already been printing human flesh since 2016! However, the impact this may have on cosmetic surgeons' businesses wasn't ignored: another trainee said that the prospect of 3D printed noses would be enough to 'make them sweat'.
With Saturday night stalwart The X Factor clinging onto our screens for dear life, the trainees considered whether 2020 would finally be the year of the talent show format's demise. There were two main camps: desperate hope that it will be, or reluctant resignation that, alas, it may not. This was all except for one trainee, who believed that the talent show had never recovered after Irish dancing father-and-son pair on Britain's Got Talent in 2009. Fair play.
Podcasts are fast becoming the commuter's weapon of choice to battle the horror of the morning commute, so we asked the trainees what the must-hear podcast of 2020 would be. RPC's hotly anticipated new insurance podcast, 'Insurance Covered' was an obvious no-brainer, although we hold out hope that Lady Hale will host an exposé of the Supreme Court – perhaps featuring RPC as a special guest?!
The trainees have been blessed with plenty of exciting sporting events to predict in 2020, with the inaugural Hundred Cricket competition coming up, Liverpool's unbelievable Premier League season still to be interrupted by a loss and, of course the Tokyo Olympics.
The trainees did not come to a consensus on the number of medals that Team GB would win at the Olympics and Paralympics in Tokyo later this year, although they did agree that Dina Asher Smith would win a couple of medals in the sprints. The special mention of 2020 Sports predictions must go to one trainee who, clearly lacking any understanding of the medal system, has predicted that Team GB will win every single medal.
The trainees are perhaps naively optimistic with regards to Liverpool FC's chances of emulating the famous Preston North End Invincibles of 1888-1889 (and Arsenal) as the vast majority predicted that they will indeed go through the whole season unbeaten. A few trainees predicted that Liverpool will be beaten this year, with (clearly 2 Arsenal fans) suggesting that Arsenal will put an end to the unbeaten season. One stickler for detail / classic lawyer-type has postulated that the question was not specific enough and Napoli have actually already beaten Liverpool this year. Finally, this witty group of trainees were united in asserting that the Oval Invincibles would win the Hundred as it's in the name.