2015 was weird. The SNP went from having 10% of Scottish seats at Westminster to having 95%, overwhelmingly at the expense of an imploding Labour Party, which once viewed Scotland – at least in the House of Commons – as its own impregnable citadel.
Two days before the General Election, I spent the morning at a Jim Murphy rally in Glasgow. Just for the hell of it. The Labour faithful were in delusionally optimistic mood, especially after Gordon Brown bounded onto the stage and did that angry passionate bull thing he perfected in the last couple of weeks of the referendum campaign.
It was all for naught, and Labour in Scotland were decimated. All this to say, expect more of the same in 2016.
UK Labour is run by a radical hippy now, while in Scotland, Kezia Dugdale has managed to make no impression whatsoever. At the Holyrood elections in May next year, there will be blood. It’s a pretty good bet that Scottish Labour will not win a single constituency seat, and will be relying purely on the list vote.
It’s also not unthinkable that Ruth Davidson’s Tories might beat them into third place.
The media has been all over a series of supposed scandals and crises surrounding the SNP, from suspended MPs to the closure of the Forth Road Bridge, but polls suggest the Nationalists will return to power with an increased majority and a hugely weakened opposition.
In the UK, the Conservative Government have also been blessed with a divided and weak opposition. Cameron and Osborne give off the impression of having never felt more secure, and they have reason to, with a double-digit lead over Corbyn’s Labour in some polls.
For Labour, there must surely be in 2016 some kind of reckoning. Whether the much-rumoured Corbyn reshuffle comes to pass in January remains to be seen, and whether or not he opts to jettison the likes of Maria Eagle and Hilary Benn, who defied him in the Syria vote, will be key.
By the end of 2016, I predict Corbyn will not have gone anywhere – by which point, it will be put up or shut up time for the Labour rebels. There’s a chance that the party could split, perhaps with the self-proclaimed “moderates” allying with Tim Farron’s Lib Dems.
It wouldn’t be the first time – just ask Michael Foot.
But the Prime Minister’s position may not be as secure, nor his future as rosy, as he would like to think.
In February, he hopes to return from Brussels with an agreement from EU member states on a renegotiation of the UK’s membership. There is, however, no guarantee he will get the unanimity he desires.
On welfare, he wants to deny in-work benefits to European migrants for four years – which will meet with fierce resistance from Eastern European states. Meanwhile, his proposed exclusion of the UK from the principle of ever closer Union may not go down well with the likes of France, Belgium and Germany. My prediction: Cameron will walk away with a much watered-down agreement, and go for a snap referendum in the summer or early autumn of 2016.
I predict the UK will vote to leave – especially if the refugee crisis from the Middle East continues to worsen, and if ISIS succeed in striking Europe again.
Scotland, meanwhile, will very likely vote to stay. What happens next constitutionally will have colossal ramifications for the issue of Scottish independence – one that could easily see another referendum come Scotland’s way.
In the US, it seems increasingly likely that – defying all laws of political gravity – Donald Trump will win the Republican nomination. Mull that over for a second.
On the Democrat side, it’s not so clear-cut. Hillary Clinton is not, in the main, trusted or particularly liked by Americans. Obama overturned a near thirty-point deficit to defeat her between 2007 and 2008. 2016’s Democrat alternative, Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, seems to have all the momentum on his side at the moment, even with a dismissive US press.
With a huge batch of the controversial Clinton e-mails being published on New Year’s Eve, and the last of them slated for publication in January, any damaging revelations could seriously cost her.
As such, I’m going to make a bold prediction: Bernie Sanders will become the next President of the United States.
And if it’s a choice between him and Trump, let’s call that prediction a fervent prayer.
by Dan Vevers