Winston Churchill said that the longer you are able to look backwards, the further you can see forward. 

You don’t need to go back further than 12 months in order to see how difficult it can be to predict what 2022 will bring.

On January 10, 2010, I speculated that fellow Americans could be granted herd immunity against both populist and Covid politics. 

My writing was just days after President Obama had incited supporters to march onto the Capitol. The US was rapidly approaching the top of its third largest wave of Covid-related death.

Both of these are false. The shape-shifting virus has found a partial way around our vaccines – I write eight days after testing positive for Covid, though three jabs of Pfizer have so far protected me from serious illness. 

Surprisingly, Trumpism seems to be on the rise again.

Was Britain in for a long and difficult future? But here, I found myself too pessimistic.

When I first wrote this in February, my fear was that Brexit’s economic effects would depress future growth. 

While the UK would be dissolved, the woke battalions could further limit free speech in universities. Unionism was also on the decline in Scotland and Northern Ireland.

England was beginning to look like the dark, backward, and gloomy England I had lamented. It wasn’t the same place Philip Pullman imagined in his fantasy novels. This parallel universe didn’t have the Reformation, Enlightenment, or Industrial Revolution. It seemed that we were heading back to 1970s.

Wrong, again – well, partly wrong. No doubt, there were echos of 1970s football this year. English football raised feverish hopes only for them to be crushed in a manner that reminded Gerd Mueller’s 1970 quarter-final victory. 

The Prime Minister Boris Johnson visits the Francis Crick Vaccination Centre in central London, to have his second Covid-19 Vaccination jab

Boris Johnson is the Prime Minister and he visits London’s Francis Crick Vaccination centre in central London to get his second Covid-19 Vaccination jab. 

The Monarchy was not as badly questioned since God Save The Queen was published by the Sex Pistols. Oprah won’t have it any other way than March when she interviewed Prince Harry, his professional aggrieved spouse, Meghan Markle.

BUT in other ways the British public seemed – and seems – impressively determined to keep calm and carry on in ways that recalled earlier and more admirable periods in its history.

Britain became the first country (apart from the United Arab Emirates, Chile), to provide vaccines for 75 percent of its citizens. The European Union was also faster in removing Covid-related restrictions. This meant that England’s October felt much more normal than in California and Germany.

The probability of Scottish independence fell, not rose, when the Scottish National Party failed to win an absolute majority in Edinburgh’s parliament. Also, the public became tired of Nicola Sturgeon’s incessant interference in people’s private lives.

Most encouraging were the signals that the tide was changing against wokeism, not just in British culture but also at universities.

In Cambridge, bold dons staged a splendid and successful revolt against their vice-chancellor’s appalling speech code – in reality, a charter for censorship – and there was a wave of support for Kathleen Stock after she was harassed off the Sussex University campus by a mob of transgender Red Guards.

Covid disguised as Omicron was a Grinch. People seem to be less willing to listen the panic-mongers or prophets of doom led by Neil Ferguson, Imperial College London.

The Government’s public-health advisers often model worst-case scenarios, but rarely the best.

It is encouraging to see the public mood of scepticism contrast so strongly with the resignation fatalism we accepted in 2020.

Sajid Javid, as his Health Secretary role has also impressed me with the level of expertise and humanity he displays. 

The moment he convinced Sky journalist Jon Craig for his booster shot just before an interview was a slap in the face. It reminded me of what good, humble political leadership is all about.

How does 2022 compare?

It will all depend on how the pandemic unfolds. It is quite plausible to hope that the Omicron variant marks a decisive shift from the pandemic to the endemic stage of Covid – which is to say that it survives but becomes part of the normal pattern of seasonal illness and mortality. 

I have learned to avoid wishful thinking about this topic since 2021. No law of nature says that viruses will become more deadly or less contagious over time.

NIALL FERGUSON: Perhaps most heartening were the signs that the tide was turning against wokeism in British culture, even at the universities. (Pictured: J.K. Rowling, who has come under fire from trans activists this year)

NIALLFERGUSON: One of the most heartening signs was that British culture is turning against wakeism, including at universities. (Pictured by J.K. Rowling who was criticized this year by trans activists.

Because influenza mutates so quickly, it is possible to cause multiple pandemics. This is evident from the long history. So it would not surprise me if we had to contend with further letters in the Greek alphabet – the Pi, Rho, and Sigma variants.

Also, it is obvious that wealthy countries need to help speed up vaccinations in less-developed nations. Because of low vaccine rates, and the history of HIV in the region, sub-Saharan Africa has the highest risk to produce dangerous variants.

Omicron will continue to disrupt Christmas for millions (mine included) and it will pose another challenge to governments. What happens to the strategies they used in the initial wave of the pandemic’s outbreak?

If a small percentage of the population has a serious illness, restrictions can be counterproductive.

Do we really want to shutter all of the colleges and schools when it is obvious that “distance learning” is an inexplicable term? How can we quarantine all the nurses and doctors who test positive, and yet staff the National Health Service

Public health officials will have to let go of their control freakery as the public begins to see Covid in a similar light to flu. 

Let’s pray that Britain will lead the charge to find a better way of learning how to live with Covid. It’s what most Britons desire.

There are economic surprises in store for us, too – surprises which will revolve around one word: inflation. Many economists, particularly those working at the central banks, underestimated how much inflation would cause an increase in consumer prices in 2021. 

The warnings of February proved to be correct: Joe Biden’s administration would overheat America’s economy. However, few people expected an increase in inflation rates of 6.8% by November.

The UK’s and Europe’s inflation rates are a little lower because of the smaller scale of the government stimulus.

Yet, even this side of Atlantic is aware that there is an urgent need for the central banks to calm things down.

They begin to reduce their government bond purchases (which has kept long-term rates low), and then raise short-term rates to manage inflation.

Higher interest rates could cause a major stock market selloff as in the fourth quarter 2018. This would be bad news to British consumers who already face higher taxes and prices.

China’s economic problems could even be more difficult. China’s growing power grab is having adverse effects on its growth. 

This year he picked a fight with the country’s most successful companies – notably web marketplace Alibaba – and watched impassively as its most indebted property developers, led by Evergrande, slid towards bankruptcy.

While the effective closing of China’s borders might suit Xi politically as he prepares for his formal invocation as leader for life at 20th Communist Party Congress (20th Communist Party Congress), it is yet another economic headwind. 

Importantly, China doesn’t have a good solution to Omicron. Its vaccines provide little protection.

It will not be possible to sustain a “zero Covid” policy during the Winter Olympics. The Communist Party must impose tighter restrictions.

Problem is, we’ll not pay enough attention China due to the distractions of other problems.

American voters believed they could end the pandemic by eliminating Donald Trump. Surprisingly, more Covid victims have been killed under Biden’s control, despite Trump’s extensive vaccine arsenal.

This is why I wasn’t right about Americans getting ‘herd immunity against Trumpism’ According to new polling, Trump continues to be incredibly popular among Republicans. 

More than 72% still like his handling the presidency. When asked about his personality, 82% deemed him trustworthy and honest while 73% regarded him as authentic. (I kid you not.)

Trump has a clear advantage over the Republican nominees to 2024. The Biden Administration is so incompetent, that Trump’s qualms in the larger US population might not be sufficient to prevent his reelection.

Trump could win the election by a wide margin as voters protest against Trump’s forever pandemic, violence, inflation, border chaos and “wokeism” in education.

For the moment, Americans are stuck with Biden as president – provided his health holds up.

Voters will have the opportunity to elect their leader anywhere in the world.

NIALL FERGUSON: Many restrictions make no sense when a much smaller share of the population is truly ill. What's the point of travel restrictions if you can get negative test results in the early stages of being infectious? (Pictured: March in London against vaccine passports policy)

NAIL FERGUSON (Photo: March in London, against the vaccine passports policy 

In the face of a credible challenger from Centre-Right, I am beginning to doubt that Emmanuel Macron can win a second term in France as president.

Brazil’s charismatic populist Jairbolsonaro appears to be in the end, as Luiz Inacio Lula Da Silva has been released from jail and his corruption convictions have been overturned.

Maybe these foreign leaders envie Boris Johnson because he doesn’t need to confront his country’s electorate until 2024. 

However, it is not the electorate Johnson has to worry about, so much as Tory MPs and party members, who increasingly share the view of his embittered former adviser Dominic Cummings that the PM has all the strategy – not to mention the principles – of a careening supermarket trolley.

Since Margaret Thatcher’s death, seven Tory leaders have led the party, only John Major and David Cameron of which lasted more than five years. William Hague was unable to survive for more than four years.

The rest – Iain Duncan Smith, Michael Howard and Theresa May – served 26, 25 and 36 months, respectively. Johnson stands at 29. He looks unlikely to reach 100, much like an English cricketer in the Boxing Day Ashes test.

Russian President Vladimir Putin looks rather more durable and now seems intent on emulating the greatest victory of his idol, Tsar Peter the Great – by winning a war in Ukraine.

He has his forces advancing along the Ukrainian border. His bellicose rhetoric only grows. The US is putting calculated economic pressure on Britain’s European allies by reducing gas exports from Europe.

And he is counting on bumbling Joe Biden to retaliate with nothing more than financial sanctions when Russian forces sweep westwards towards Kiev – much as happened in 2014, when Biden was vice president and Putin annexed Crimea with near impunity. Putin may be right. Putin is probably right.

With yet another outbreak of Covid restrictions, infections and irritations in 2021, it’s tempting to exclaim: “Good riddance.” Do we really want to look ahead to 2022? True, the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee will be a cause of celebration, particularly around the special bank holiday in June – Covid permitting, that is.

And when compared with other countries, like an ever-polarised America, and an ever closer China, there are reasons to smile at the United Kingdom.

Some optimists hoped for a repeat of the Roaring Twenties a year ago. It was a decade-long celebration to match Scott Fitzgerald’s Great Gatsby. This is a terrible chance.

Churchill once said to a young Tory MP: “The secret to drinking is not to drink too much every day.” It seems that this is the best and only way I can cope with the Boring Twenties.

Niall Ferguson is the Milbank Family senior fellow at Stanford’s Hoover Institution. He also manages Greenmantle. Doom: Political Catastrophe, his latest book.