It looks as if 2015 could turn out to be Europe's Year of the Insurgents... More than at any time since the end of the Cold War, Europe needs clear, determined leaders who can calm voters' anger and offer reassurance that better times are coming, especially for those who have been hardest hit by the age of austerity. Anger, fear and intolerance of minorities are a highly dangerous mix - we have seen before where they can lead when populist politicians fan the flames. The coming year will be a test that Europe must not fail.
Defined by a storm in a D cup, this week The Sun newspaper's decision to 'hilariously' pretend it had listened to anti-Page 3 campaigners was offensively unfunny. Put to one side the endless debate and incorrect columns about Page 3's supposed demise, if the aim was to cynically generate a shed load of free PR for the declining red top then bravo, didn't they do well. Now the challenge they face is trying to convince the rest of us that we should keep reading.
The economic dangers associated with the introduction of the Euro were predictable - and indeed predicted by many. Yet political leaders at the time chose to make a grand and hubristic political statement irrespective of the devastation it could bring to their citizens. The Euro is, maybe, the best example of the consequences of a political and policy elite living in their own world and totally divorced from the consequences of their actions on ordinary people.
The #illridewithyou campaign in a shining example of everything that's fantastic about Australia - even if as a Kiwi I have to say it through gritted teeth. Like the American cousins, they've got a lot of big, empty spaces, what is politely known as a 'frontier mentality' and a tendency to come across as a bit rough round the edges.
In the name of defending its prosperity, Europe is encouraging a historic decline of the humanitarian principles and values on which much of European culture has been constructed during the last three centuries. Not only is the welfare state in retreat, but a hostile attitude towards vulnerable social groups is becoming prevalent. An outlook is gradually spreading of considering vulnerable people to be unacceptable, particularly when they come from abroad. The cultural implications for Europe, which long ago stopped being the leading producer of culture in the world and has been living in the shadow of the USA, are incalculable.