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Chris Mason: What to expect from politics in 2023

The year gone by, with the political decapitation of two prime ministers, repeatedly changed how we are governed, and by whom.

But it also radically altered the dynamic between our political parties.
As we look ahead to 2023, it’s the chaos of 2022 in the rear view mirror that moulds what appears to be the political road ahead.

For a start, political leaders across Westminster don’t expect 2023 to be a general election year.
Only Rishi Sunak or a significant chunk of Conservative MPs alongside opposition parties could bring about an early election, and given Tory opinion poll ratings are in the gutter, that seems unlikely, as things stand.

The widespread expectation is the Conservatives will run the clock down on this parliamentary term.
There has to be a general election by January 2025 at the latest.
The current guessing game tends to conclude that the summer or autumn of 2024 is the most likely timing.

So that means 2023 will likely be the year before an election year – and that is likely to shape how the next 12 months feel.

«The year the election is won or lost,» as one senior Labour figure put it to me. «The campaign probably won’t make much difference. But 2023 will.»

«It was a flipping disaster,» one senior minister nearly said to me just before Christmas, reflecting on the months just gone.

I don’t want to crack your screen by quoting them verbatim.
The reaction to the toppling of first Boris Johnson and then Liz Truss has had several consequences.

Firstly, it’s made dull exciting again.
After a year of thrash metal, an interlude of mild jazz will have a contrasting appeal to some.
Rishi Sunak embarked on his stint as prime minister by seeking to make a virtue of a quiet seriousness.

His team decided they wouldn’t be noisily picking public fights, especially with their own side.
But, as we saw in the final weeks of the year, when you’re in Downing Street, noisy public fights knock on that front door nearly daily and you have to choose how to respond.

To maintain that quietness can mean conceding, as Mr Sunak did on allowing onshore wind farms in England and diluting house building targets in England after pressure from his own backbenchers.

It poses a question about how much the prime minister will be able to get done on his own terms in 2023.

And how restive his backbenchers may become, particularly if the local elections in May are bleak for the Conservatives.

But one consequence of 2022 should help Mr Sunak.
I was chatting to a Cabinet minister the other day, who was reflecting that so bonkers was the instability in the Conservative Party over the last 12 months, its appetite for insurrection, for civil war, has waned.

A party which, at points, appeared to have a death wish, has had second thoughts.
As we have already seen, that doesn’t mean by any means backbenchers are powerless, but talk of toppling the leaders, plotting leadership campaigns and such like feels very 2022.

The backdrop to everything is inflation pickpocketing us all and accelerating the waves of strikes we’ve already seen and will continue to see well into the new year.

Will ministers be able to continue to resist offering public sector workers more money?
Will the rate of price rises ease sufficiently quickly, or public opinion turn against strikers sufficiently fast for the government to be able to avoid this?.

On this theme, in the early weeks of January, we can expect to see the government broaden out its plan to try to reduce the impact of industrial action, especially in the emergency services.
There are ministers pushing to see strikes banned for ambulance staff and firefighters.
Others say higher minimum service levels must be set down in law, to at least minimise the impact of such strikes.

And legislation is also promised by Rishi Sunak on small boat crossings over the Channel.
Both these issues are likely to, broadly at least, bring together the Tory backbenches, and pose interesting questions for how Labour responds.

So how will Labour approach 2023?
«I go around reminding anyone in the party who’ll listen that we absolutely cannot be complacent,» one senior figure tells me over a cuppa.

«We are up against the most successful electoral force there has ever been in western democracy,» they add, referring to the Conservatives.

The fact the word «complacency» and the potential dangers of it for Labour is even uttered tells you everything about just how transformative 2022 was.

As Conservative fortunes in the opinion polls cratered, Labour’s headed towards the moon.
Most on both sides think the current polls flatter Labour, Conservative support will pick up and things will tighten in the run in to an election.

But, nonetheless, the working assumption around Westminster is it is likely Labour will form the next government.

This assumption, even if it turns out to be wrong, is important, because it shapes the political weather of the year ahead.

Being seen as a government in waiting brings with it greater scrutiny.
«What would you do?» Will be asked of Keir Starmer and his shadow cabinet every single day of 2023.

And, often, they will sound circumspect; reticent to set out too many specific policies too early, for fear they are hostages to fortune (ie duds) or (so good) they get nicked from under their nose and implemented by the government.

Sir Keir has already spent time trying to box off potential points of vulnerability for a party seeking to persuade people who voted Conservative last time to vote Labour next time.

Hence his desire not to question the fundamentals of the UK’s new relationship with the European Union and his claim the UK has an «immigration dependency» as he put it.

His challenge now, those close to him acknowledge, is to better shape people’s understanding of what he stands for and make the positive case for voting Labour, rather than merely being the default alternative for those fed up of the Conservatives.

Expect 2023 to be the year the party attempts to build the profile of a handful of senior shadow cabinet figures; the faces and voices making Labour’s case on the telly, radio and online.
Don’t be surprised to see and hear more from the likes of shadow chancellor Rachel Reeves, the shadow education secretary Bridget Phillipson and the shadow health secretary Wes Streeting among others.

And privately, there’ll be more pleas to avoid complacency.
«The polls can’t predict events,» warns one adviser. «Who knows what might happen?»
The story for plenty of the opposition parties at Westminster is one of confidence.
The SNP remain the overwhelmingly dominant force in Scottish politics: 15 years in government at Holyrood, and with three quarters of the nation’s MPs.

But their options for securing their much dreamed about second independence referendum are running out and Labour’s apparent resurgence poses interesting questions for them too.
The line «Scotland ends up with Tory governments it doesn’t vote for» isn’t quite so electorally potent if a Labour government looks increasingly likely after the next election.

So we are already seeing the SNP tilt some of its attack lines in Labour’s direction as well as the Conservatives’.

And the party at Westminster is under new leadership: Stephen Flynn has replaced Ian Blackford; the SNP will have a new face and voice in 2023.

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Tattoo Artist, Entrepreneur, and Oil Painter Kirby van Beek Makes a Mark in the Industry

Kirby van Beek, a talented tattoo artist, entrepreneur, and oil painter, has emerged as a prominent figure in the world of tattooing, showcasing his expertise in black and grey realism. Known for his distinctive designs and captivating portraits with a dark twist, Kirby has established himself as a highly regarded artist, earning recognition both locally and internationally.

Kirby’s journey as a tattoo artist began at the age of 18 when he taught himself the art form while simultaneously pursuing his education in forensic science. During this time, he displayed unparalleled dedication, working at a morgue during the week and honing his tattooing skills during weekends and spare hours. Kirby’s passion for tattooing led him to work at various tattoo studios in the Netherlands, solidifying his experience and expertise in the field.

About Kirby van Beek:

Kirby van Beek is a talented tattoo artist, entrepreneur, and oil painter based in [City]. Renowned for his expertise in black and grey realism, Kirby’s distinctive designs and captivating portraits with a dark twist have earned him a prominent position in the industry. With a passion for tattooing and oil painting, Kirby aspires to become a globally recognized artist, leaving a lasting impact on the world of art.

«The things I love most about tattooing is meeting different clients and getting to know them on a personal level during a long tattoo session,» says Kirby. «There is nothing more rewarding than tattooing individuals who appreciate my art so much that they choose to wear it on their skin for life.»

Specializing in realistic black and grey tattoos, portrait tattoos, and horror tattoos, Kirby’s work has garnered attention both nationally and internationally. His talents have been showcased at several tattoo conventions abroad, and his captivating designs have been featured in prominent tattoo magazines. Additionally, he has been recognized by esteemed publications such as LINDA magazine in the Netherlands and the local newspaper BN de Stem. Furthermore, Kirby’s exceptional skills led him to participate as a tattoo artist in the Dutch version of MTV’s Just Tattoo of Us.

Looking ahead, Kirby aspires to become a world-renowned tattoo artist and oil painter, with a particular focus on portrait tattoos and dark horror tattoos.

His ultimate goal is to reach clients and famous individuals around the globe, sharing his unique artistry and leaving an indelible mark on the industry. In the future, Kirby envisions opening an art show to showcase his diverse body of work.

To learn more about Kirby van Beek and explore his captivating portfolio, visit his official Instagram page (@kirbyvanbeek) or his website

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DJ Khenya Takes Center Stage at Blue Marlin Ibiza, Spreading Joy and Connection

The music of DJ Khenya pulsates with rhythm and emotion. A rich mélange of sun-kissed sounds that blend percussive beats with indie and deep house. The artist’s journey to Ibiza has laid the foundation for a musical expression that communicates joy and connectivity. Taking the reins at Blue Marlin Ibiza, Khenya’s vibrations will inspire dance floor dreamers to move and let go.

From the stage at Blue Marlin Ibiza, DJ Khenya has shared experiences alongside some of the most influential names in the music industry. When asked about the impact of these experiences, the artist responded humbly: «The truth is I feel lucky. I have total admiration for them as they are a source of inspiration for me.»

The energy at Blue Marlin Ibiza is unlike any other, according to DJ Khenya. He describes the place as «a life experience,» synonymous with summer and with all the ingredients to feel in a state of bliss when you’re there. He thanks the team for being like a family to him and for everything they’ve done.

This summer, DJ Khenya will take his audience on a journey filled with unforgettable emotions. He comments, «My goal is to transmit uplifting and unforgettable sensations. My audience is what sets my heart on fire, and I want them to feel my desire to make them dance.»

The path that led DJ Khenya to become a DJ began in Havacia, Cuba, where he grew up in an environment where rhythm, dance, and poetry are like the air we breathe. With son and salsa running through his veins, his first experience at an electronic music party in the early 2000s marked a shift in his life. Khenya recalls hearing ‘The Underground’ by Celeda and says, «It was a different Cuba, and I loved it. I think from that moment, something changed inside me. A seed had been planted, and life would take me in that direction.»

Having traveled the world and now based in Ibiza, DJ Khenya reflects on how these experiences have shaped his identity as an artist. He comments, «Traveling the world is a privilege that every human being should have, especially an artist because when you have these experiences, you can understand different ways of life and the musicality of each place. Creativity is born from that knowledge, and I still have a lot to learn in that sense.»

This summer, DJ Khenya promises to take Blue Marlin Ibiza to new heights with his unique music and his desire to make everyone dance. The experience is guaranteed to be a celebration of life, joy, and connection through music.

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Oliver Rouz: Weaving Ink and Inspiration into a Legacy

Born on February 13th, 1988, Oliver Rouz’s path to success is one marked by determination, passion, and the pursuit of creative endeavors. From a young age, Oliver exhibited a profound love for various forms of creativity, which ultimately led him to become one of the country’s most celebrated tattoo artists.

During his school years, Oliver’s artistic talent set him apart. His favorite cartoon characters became his canvas as he tirelessly recreated them in his own style. However, drawing was merely a pastime during his teenage years, a source of pleasure until music took center stage in his life.

In 2005, Oliver formed the «Fairy Tale Jelissa Rose» band, a pivotal moment that expanded his horizons. Immersed in the music community, he developed a newfound fascination with tattoos and ink artistry, spurred by the band’s association with the tattoo culture.

A serendipitous encounter with Artem at the «Quick Silver» shop in Moscow in 2010 marked a turning point. Artem’s influence led Oliver to consider a life-altering decision. By 2012, Oliver, now ignited by a passion for tattoos, made a bold move to another city, all while nurturing his tattoo aspirations.

Artem’s transformation into a tattoo artist himself inspired Oliver further. As fate would have it, an opportunity arose in 2012 for them to collaborate and open their tattoo studio in Moscow. This venture required Oliver’s dedicated efforts, alongside his commitment to saving funds to fuel their creative endeavor.

Oliver’s tattooing prowess flourished within a year, prompting a return to his hometown to establish several home-like studios. Yet, he recognized that true growth beckoned him back to Moscow. Thus, in 2017, he joined Good Hands Tattoo, laying the foundation for his continued ascent.

Oliver’s indomitable spirit and devotion to his craft bore fruit, as evidenced by his stint at Black Point studio, born out of a collective dream. His trajectory exemplifies the power of dedication, leading him to become a recognized tattoo luminary within the nation.

Oliver’s journey, however, extends beyond tattooing. From his early affinity for music, highlighted by the formation of his punk rock band at 14, to his involvement in the music industry and flirtation with global recognition, his story embodies the resilience required to navigate creative industries.

A pivotal moment arrived in 2021 when Oliver, undeterred by previous setbacks, chose to channel his creative energy into designing game art. Leaving behind a stable job, he invested his savings of around $5,000 to embark on a transformative journey. Guided by Hexeth’s interview and tutorials, Oliver delved into the realm of game design.

Fueled by dedication and a newfound purpose, Oliver’s creative expression culminated in designing elements for popular games like CS:GO and RUST. Through unwavering commitment and rigorous self-education, he harnessed the potential of his artistic flair.

Today, Oliver Rouz’s name resonates as a testament to the potential of human determination. His path from a young artist with a penchant for creation to a revered tattoo and game artist serves as an inspiration to countless dreamers. Oliver’s legacy continues to evolve, as he pushes the boundaries of his craft and inspires others to chase their passions unrelentingly.

For more information and to view Oliver’s work, visit his Instagram profile: @oliverrouz.

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