Thursday 1 January 2015

My predictions for 2015

On New Year's Day 2014 I made a set of predictions for politics (both global and domestic) in the year ahead. Read: My predictions for 2014

Here I am doing the same exercise again, but for 2015. I should point out that the purpose of the exercise is prediction, not an expression of what I want to happen. I've done this for the last two years and have aimed to be soberly realistic.

Glancing back at my 2014 predictions, I found that a few of them were well wide of the mark but many were entirely or largely correct. British politics is currently rather volatile and it's widely agreed that the outcomes of May's general election are highly unpredictable, so I may end up getting things badly wrong this time. We will have to wait and see.

There are 20 predictions. The first 6 are to do with the general election, then there are several others focused on British politics, and finally some predictions concerning global politics. Feel free to wildly disagree with any of them!

1. Labour will win most seats in May's general election, with 305 seats in total. It will form a minority government, relying heavily on a large degree of SNP and Lib Dem support.

2. In Scotland the SNP will win 35 seats, with Labour on 17, the Lib Dems on 6 and the Tories on 1. Alex Salmond will become SNP group leader in the Commons and Jim Murphy will continue as Scottish Labour leader despite his party's humiliation (losing over half of its current Scottish seats). By the end of 2015 there will be have been substantial progress in developing a new Scottish left party, ready to stand in its first elections the following spring (for the Scottish parliament at Holyrood).  

3. The Lib Dems will win 25-30 seats, followed by Nick Clegg resigning as party leader.

4. Ukip will make no gains in the general election, simply retaining the 2 seats it recently won in by-elections (Clacton; Rochester and Strood). In general 2015 will see Ukip decline slightly and its vote share in opinion polls fall to below 15%, as the perception of the party as racist becomes more widely accepted.

5. The Greens will hold Brighton Pavilion (where Caroline Lucas is MP), winning by a whisker, but make no gains. The Green Surge - the remarkable growth in the party's membership in 2014 - will to a large extent continue until spring, but stall after May's election.

6. The various fragments of the electoral left will make zero impact on the general election, get derisory votes and (more generally) make no progress in 2015. Respect's George Galloway will lose his Bradford West seat to Labour.

7. Theresa May will succeed David Cameron as Conservative Party leader, following a hotly - contested leadership election which she will win narrowly against a more stridently Eurosceptic challenger. The party will nonetheless tilt somewhat further to the right, especially on Europe.

8. The new Labour minority government will fulfil a number of its promises - including scrapping the bedroom tax and freezing energy price rises - but it will be extremely slow and partial in reversing Tory reforms in the NHS, leaving recent changes largely untouched. Its continuance of austerity, with very little modification compared to the current government, will be the biggest source of discontent among current or former Labour supporters - and there will be significant anti-cuts protests against the new government before the end of 2015.

9. The Westminster child abuse scandal will become one of the year's biggest stories in British politics, with a whole set of devastating allegations turning out to be accurate.

10. The Chilcot inquiry will be more damaging for Tony Blair and various other former senior figures - in politics, the civil service and the military - than many people have tended to assume.  

11. There will be no major co-ordinated strikes by British trade unions, though several public sector unions will take sectional action over pay claims. Unison, Unite and GMB leaders will strongly discourage strikes in the light of there being a weak Labour government.

12. Housing will become a huge political and campaigning issue in London - and to a lesser extent elsewhere - with several further campaigns similar to the recent New Era and Focus E15 campaigns and a number of victories. As with the recent campaigns, working class women will be the main organisers of these campaigns.

13. Trident replacement will become a major issue in British politics, especially after May's election, and a source of large-scale campaigning, but the new government will nonetheless strongly (and, as of the end of 2015, successfully) resist pressures for its cancellation.

14. There will be further tensions involving North Korea and the US, again centred on questions of surveillance or cyber-security.

15. Syriza will win the forthcoming Greek election, but extremely narrowly, and a major political crisis will follow. Defence of the left-wing Greek government will become a major rallying point for the left and working class movements across Europe. Greece will still be in the Eurozone at the end of 2015.

16. Palestinian resistance will grow, giving real substance to claims of a Third Intifada, forcing Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas (and his Fatah party) to give tacit support to fresh protests. Efforts at Palestinian unity will be stuttering but gain impetus from grassroots pressure, while the global Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement will score significant victories.

17. Hillary Clinton will emerge as clear frontrunner in the race to be Democrat nominee for US president, with an emphasis in her rhetoric on being more hawk-ish in foreign policy than President Obama.

18. ISIS will suffer serious setbacks, largely due to its own internal contradictions and limits, and make no further territorial gains. There will be no escalation of US-led military operations in Iraq, or elsewhere in the Middle East.

19. The Eurozone will continue to stagnate and the UK economic recovery will continue being very weak, but another slump will be deferred for now. Russia's recession will deepen.

20. Widespread protests against police racism in the US will continue, periodically flaring up in response to specific police killings of black victims. Federal, state and civic authorities will remain resistant to any police reform and lose a great deal of legitimacy in the process.


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