Guardian readers on their hopes and fears for 2021


After one of the most turbulent and terrifying years in recent memory, we asked Guardian readers what they wanted – or expected – for 2021.

Evelyn Mensah, London, UK

My prediction for 2021 is that systemic racism will start to become eradicated from our greatest institution, the NHS, where I have worked for the past 30 years.

Elisabetta Campeti, Italy

My prediction for 2021 is that the slowing down due to Covid-19 will hopefully make us all understand the crucial points to be tackled. Whether our governments do that depends on how much we can keep the pressure on them. Biden taking over from Trump has averted catastrophe, maybe, but we still do not dare to hope for a real change of course in the US, even though it’s a relief.

Brexit is going to be a disaster, how much of one we are all soon going to find out. But the people of the world are waking up, and the young people even more so. So, let us hope 2021 brings us a bit of relief from the horror and drama of the last four years.

Dan Sheridan, Kent, UK

The news from Oxford/AstraZeneca, Moderna and Pfizer is very encouraging. The news from the US that Trump is being replaced by someone who thinks about others and not just himself is equally encouraging. That said, we are about GBP2.5tn in debt, are increasing government borrowing by billions daily, and so far have no clear idea how to resolve the problem of our children’s final exams and university places on a fair basis. We also have the closure of high street stores, a staggering number of companies going into administration, and untold numbers of unemployed.

But we have a history of being able to bounce back and I’m old enough to have seen us do this on more than one occasion.

Covid ambulance entrance at Frimley Park hospital in Surrey.

Angela Battson, Wales

In Wales, it seems we have a far more credible government than the one run from Downing Street. I feel Mark Drakeford is leading a more “in touch” government because he is concerned with all aspects of Welsh life and tries hard to meet all the difficult issues we have been presented with since March 2020.

He has such a difficult job to do but exhibits compassion and calmness that encourages us to believe he has our best interests at heart.

While I have always been a staunch supporter of the UK union, I now feel that the shambolic disaster that emanates from Westminster must encourage me to vote for complete devolution. Wales must look after itself with a government that reflects the people of Wales and understands what is best for it.

So unless there is a dramatic change in the Downing Street fiasco, 2021 will mean that Wales must look after itself with strong support for the current Welsh government.

Welsh parliament

Sue Marshall, England

I so hope that from the embers of the Covid pandemic a new consciousness and awareness can touch humanity. I hope that the need to nurture the planet, the plants, the animal kingdom and other human beings becomes an ambition to work on, globally, together.

My prediction is that many will want to achieve their own needs for wealth and power, but perhaps this pandemic will make better politicians who understand interdependence in a different way. I am not religious, nor am I a fool, but I hope I live long enough to see things get better.

Stephen Snell, Spain

I am, for the first time in more than a couple years, hopeful. I am hopeful for effective progress with the climate crisis, for opening up immigration, for improved voting rights, for science, professional behaviour, significant gains in equality, and a more transparent government. And finally I am hopeful we can curtail the power of money in our politics and elect members of Congress who will put the country before party and donors.

Maybe that’s too much to hope for? It’s not a bad idea; albeit unrealistic? Well, hell’s bells, why not!? We might surprise ourselves.

Amanda Wright, UK

I hope I am wrong but I see the pandemic stretching into next year because the government has not been straight with us. They have not been acting in our best interests but have pandered to their own and their party’s interests instead – which is why they were slow to lock down (the money men didn’t like it).

This is why all their friends have been given lucrative contracts to produce goods and services completely outside their skills and experience. I cannot see anything really improving until we have a government that knows how to govern.

high street store closures

Jim Knight, West Sussex, UK

This is not a prediction, it is a deeply rooted concern – that 2021 might prove that what remains of democracy in the UK and the US will be irrevocably destroyed. Brexit and Trumpism have both revealed such a willingness in the people to accept lies as truth and vote for the people who peddle the lies.

I suspect I am far from alone in being glad that Biden triumphed over Trumpism until I look at the number of people who still voted for Trump – more than any other losing presidential candidate.

Sorry, I hope I am wrong, but my only prediction is that 2021 is likely to prove to be even more worrying than 2020.

Maria Urban, Switzerland

From a Swiss point of view my predictions for 2021 are: more shocking news on several ecological crises like climate crisis and biodiversity loss; more shocking news on political inability, unwillingness and lack of urgency in responding adequately to approaching ecological breakdown.

A defining moment will be the implementation of the Covid vaccine: Covid will cause recurring major restrictions in Switzerland throughout the first half of 2021, focused on increasing general compliance with testing and the basic, most effective behavioural rules and minimising restrictions for businesses.

But the Covid vaccine will work and bring substantial relief, save many lives, businesses, families and will somewhat slow down the increase of inequality in income and life expectancy.

For Switzerland, I expect a robust economic recovery and that some changes caused by Covid will stay in place, eg home office and remote work, which is feeding people, capital and social connectedness towards Alpine and rural areas affected by depopulation.

Joe Biden and Kamala Harris

Janet Ferry, England

Surely 2021 has to be better than 2020! I have hopes rather than predictions though. A vaccine could be a turning point so that we can get our lives back and properly see family and friends. I work for the NHS and predict we will “cope”, but at the expense of other conditions with delayed surgery and treatments.

The Labour party will either be slightly smaller and gather around Keir Starmer or complete split. Joe Biden will be a great improvement for America and Kamala Harris will greatly influence women’s politics, hopefully diminishing fake news if it’s not too late.

From my personal point of view, I will retire in the summer, and hopefully can do some travelling!

Don Ross, Canada

After four dark years of madness south of us here in Canada, we and the rest of the world can begin to see some light and hope again.

Ian Andrews, New Zealand

New Zealand will come out of the Covid crisis better than most, having weathered the storm better than most. Jacinda Ardern has had a brilliant PM-ship thus far, which I hope will continue. NZ’s reactionary right appears to be in something of a retreat as NZ recognises its multiplicity of communities. More houses need to be built. A high-speed rail network would be great. Overall – not optimistic but willing to be proved wrong or at least go down swinging.

James Edge, Norfolk, UK

For me personally, the image of Patrick Hutchinson carrying the white male [anti-BLM protester] to safety over his shoulder, speaks volumes for this man’s humanity. It was so good to see black and white people come together through Black Lives Matter across the globe to denounce the horrific murder of George Floyd.

Obviously it is not good that it had to happen at all, especially in 2020, it’s just outrageous. Hopefully now we have the hope and possibility that all people, regardless of race and gender, can be treated equally and afforded the same opportunities.

That is my personal wish for 2021 and beyond.

Patrick Hutchinson carries an injured counter-protester to safety, near Waterloo station during a Black Lives Matter protest.

Jackie Charlton, Wales

I predict we will see a turnaround in public services. People will be asking: “Where are our services?”

The public sector is in crisis, including adult social care and children’s services. Next year, we have Senedd and Scottish parliament elections, and local elections in England. I predict we will see the Tory government being given a strong message that we value our public services and demand better investment.

Joanna Pritchard, Somerset, UK

There will be a complete change in working environments for a lot of people. The housing market will change to reflect this as many people will want to live away from the city centres and suburbia and small towns will become more desirable.

London and other big urban areas will become centres of culture and entertainment but many pubs and cafes will close and not reopen.

Michael Rosenberg, Madrid, Spain

It won’t be nearly as bad as the worst predictions and nowhere near as good as the best. Brexit will add another layer for the UK of misery and uncertainty.

A world without Trump will be a bonus not just to America, and if Biden can reverse all or most of the Trump legacy that will be as much as he can probably achieve without the Senate.

Covid-19 will linger longer than anticipated, not because the vaccines don’t work but because the logistics of manufacture and distribution will continue to give the virus breathing space.

What people don’t understand is that Brexit and Covid are not instead of the usual trials and tribulations of life, but as well as. They make things worse. The fact that Brexit is a self-imposed catastrophe for all the wrong reasons is neither here nor there.

Rainer Molzahn, Frankfurt, Germany

Covid-19 is the symptom, not the problem itself. The problem will not go away, even if a vaccine is available and deployed across our dear little planet. IMHO, the problem is more along the lines of “How to live?” In other words, I fear the lifestyle we have grown accustomed/addicted to is proving to be toxic for creation, the planet and ourselves, and the evidence is overwhelming. So I reckon the problem is going to unfold further before we acknowledge it in all its unprecedented magnitude and start responding creatively and responsibly.

An Extinction Rebellion demonstration in Madrid, Spain.

Peter Wildin, Cheshire, UK

I think the Covid-19 vaccine will make 2021 better than 2020.

Brexit may be a defining moment but the full extent of the downside will be slow to become apparent and will be felt mainly by those at the bottom.

I think the government will take refuge in the fact that the economic damage will be masked by the economic effects of Covid.

Antonio Ceolon, Italy

I live in Italy and I think 2021 will be a horrible year. My pessimism derives from the very bad economic situation of my country combined with the worsening of climate change.

After this pandemic is over we will not find a better world. I am also happy that the Donald is packing his bags, even if I am convinced that the damage he did during his presidency will last for ever. Time will tell.

Rainer Zelzner, Munster

I expect 2021 to be much better than 2020. I am so glad that Americans voted Trump out and now it looks like a peaceful transition is going to happen. With Joe Biden and Kamala Harris truth, science, multilateralism, responsibility and so on will be back in the White House.

Margaret Turner, Devon, UK

Eclipsing all personal wishes is the flickering hope for the survival, indeed the flourishing, of all kinds of life on our amazing Earth. I say flickering as I sometimes come near to the cliff edge of despair at the continuing destructiveness of humankind towards the planet. This is truly a climate and ecological emergency, requiring action by governments, councils, businesses, and for us all to find the joy in frugality. As an old person, the least I can do is take action with Extinction Rebellion, making essential demands; and I hope to work for a law against “ecocide“.

Countryside, Aberdeenshire, Scotland.

Tim Everitt, Aberdeenshire, Scotland

My predictions:

  • The sun will continue to shine and the planet will continue to orbit, creating seasons.

  • Plants will continue to grow to provide all of life with food.

  • Animals will continue to follow their seasonal cycles.

  • Humans will continue to be very clever at understanding the universe and everything in it.

  • Humans will continue to be very dumb by focusing on the short term.

  • In the first week of April I will start mowing my lawn.

Diana al-Saadi, Yorkshire, UK

If I’m lucky enough to survive into 2021 and live to complete my 80th year, my fervent wish is that lasting humility, compassion and tolerance are shown among communities, governments and businesses in countries around the world.

Peace will only be won if the world begins to accept and practise these qualities.

If I may be granted a second wish, it will be that science will continue to discover the longed-for cures for some of the most devastating illnesses, including cancers, arthritis, MS, ME, and other fatal diseases. Also I pray we may see a lasting breakthrough in understanding the causes of autism, dyslexia and epilepsy and other conditions that some of my own dear grandchildren experience.


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