Friday, 1 January 2016

My predictions for 2016

Goldsmith vs Khan: who will be next mayor of London? 
It's time for my annual predictions for politics in the year ahead. I've published a set of predictions on New Year's Day for the last few years. 

As usual, this is intended as an attempt at accurate forecasting, rather than being a wish list for what I'd like to happen. I have opted this year to focus almost entirely on British politics, as it is what I follow closely and feel well-placed to comment on. 

This is of course an exercise that risks embarrassment at a later date: a quick glance at last year's predictions will indicate the potential for getting things badly wrong. But, with the recklessness of such an exercise in mind, here goes...

1. Labour's Sadiq Khan will very narrowly win May's election for London Mayor, defeating Tory candidate Zac Goldsmith by a tiny margin. 

2. The SNP will win an even bigger majority at Holyrood than it possesses already, going from 69 seats won in 2011 to 75 in May's elections to the Scottish Parliament. Scottish Labour will fail to make any recovery from its polling lows. New left-wing formation RISE will fail to win any regional list seats, but the Green Party will win six regional list seats. 

3. Labour will lose around 120 of the 1200 seats it is defending in May's local council elections. 

4. Jeremy Corbyn will survive a fresh wave of internal Party attacks in May, continuing to be Labour leader throughout 2016. He will be assisted by Labour victory in the election for London mayor, compensating for less heartening news in the Scottish and local elections. 

5. The EU referendum will be held in the autumn and the IN campaign will win, with over 55% of the vote share. 

6. Labour Party membership will stabilise at around 400,000 members. Labour will make a little progress in opinion polling, being almost level with the Tories on vote share by the end of 2016. 

7. The Lib Dems will fail to make any recovery in its polling or electoral fortunes, continuing to be the irrelevant footnote to British politics that it has been since last May's Westminster wipeout. 

8. The Green Party of England and Wales will struggle to appear politically relevant, its right wing will become stronger, and the party will fare badly in London's elections in May. There will be a small decline in its membership.

9. Ukip's slow decline will continue, with the divisions between leader Nigel Farage and sole MP Douglas Carswell becoming so acute that the latter leaves Ukip altogether before the EU referendum takes place. Funding will dry up almost entirely and membership will fall slightly. 

10. Jeremy Corbyn will undertake a minor reshuffle of his shadow cabinet in January. It won't involve changes quite as drastic as widely predicted. Hilary Benn, Maria Eagle and Michael Dugher will be removed from the shadow cabinet, though Angela Eagle will remain, and Rosie Winterton will be removed as Chief Whip.

11. Momentum will establish itself as a significant grouping for the Labour left, but will struggle to find a meaningful cause to galvanise left-wing party members into action, while being overly focused on internal party matters and repeatedly subjected to attacks in the media. 

12. By the end of 2016 George Osborne will emerge as clear frontrunner in the race to be next Tory leader, ahead of Boris Johnson and Theresa May. Osborne will gain from the fact that there will be no fresh economic crisis, either in Britain or in any other major economy, despite underlying problems. Inflation in Britain will remain low and there will be a slight fall in unemployment. 

13. The Chilcot report will be published in the autumn and be damning about Tony Blair and other senior government figures of the time.

14. Junior doctors will take strike action and win their dispute with the government, though there will otherwise be no significant national strike action by public sector unions on pay, pensions or any other issue. 

15. Hillary Clinton will be selected as the Democratic nominee for US president. Donald Trump will be selected as the Republican nominee. Clinton will go on to comfortably defeat Trump in November's election, winning around 55% of the vote share. 


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