Hello everyone. I hope you all have had a peaceful Christmas and are looking forward to the new year with renewed optimism!
Just for fun, and following the lead of other bloggers, I've decided to make some predictions for 2011. I'd be interested to know what you think.
* The Oldham East and Saddleworth by-election will be closer than most people think and will demonstrate that the Lib Dems are far from the brink of collapse.
* Attitudes towards the Lib Dems will slowly change over the year, both among the media and the public.
* The coalition government in Westminster will survive the year (and beyond). Tensions between the respective party leaders and their grassroots activists will emerge but not seriously threaten party unity.
* The SNP government will not survive, and will be soundly beaten into second place at the Holyrood elections. Labour will increase its vote and seats although will fall short of an overall majority, the Tories will yet again fail to make the promised breakthrough and the Lib Dems (in spite of predictions that the UK coalition will see them suffer electorally in Scotland) will do moderately well, losing two seats at worst. Tavish Scott will emerge with considerable credit from the election campaign. The Greens will increase their number in parliament at the expense of SNP regional MSPs, but other smaller parties struggle. Margo MacDonald will be returned as a Lothians MSP. In spite of leading the SNP to defeat, Alex Salmond does not step down as party leader.
* The electoral arithmetic will allow for a number of possibilities. Labour will be tempted by the prospect of a confidence and supply deal but will ultimately prefer the safer option of coalition with the Liberal Democrats. The Lib Dems will, predictably, be accused of "selling out" and exchanging principle for ministerial limousines by journalists who really should know better.
* Tommy Sheridan will recieve a custodial sentence but this will have little impact on limiting his hostility towards his enemies, curtailing his prejudiced outbursts or on his desire to return to Scottish politics in the future. Solidarity claim he is a martyr for socialism, but are destroyed in both the national and local elections.
* Party President Tim Farron will emerge as a leader for Lib Dems discontented by the direction of the coalition. Anxious to avoid the development of a "party within a party", Farron will consistently reiterate his support for Nick Clegg and the party leadership to the media, who don't believe him.
* The press will report that Ming Campbell, Charles Kennedy and Simon Hughes are considering defecting to Labour.
* Labour ministers, MPs, bloggers and activists will devote their collective abilities to avoid giving an opinion on any issues of policy or spending priority.
* A Tory minister will be involved in a financial scandal which will be played up as a "threat to the coalition's unity". The only actual consequence of note will be a temporary relegation to the backbenches on the part of the minister.
* The AV referendum will regrettably be lost, although the vote will be closer in Scotland than elsewhere in the UK. This will be largely as a result of people identifying the referendum with a vote of confidence in Nick Clegg. Pro-PR supporters will claim the referendum result was a consequence of people wanting a genuinely proportional voting system rather than a preferential one.
* Lords reform will be more widely and openly discussed and the momentum towards this will be recognised as unstoppable - even by the most right-wing of Tories. Lib Dems will have a large influence in shaping the purpose and structure of the future second chamber.
* Rangers will pip Celtic to the title on the final day of the season, amid predictably controversial circumstances.
* Scotland will continue their dismal international form. Craig Levein will be replaced by someone even less experienced at international level.
* St Mirren and Morton will both avoid relegation comfortably, while my own Albion Rovers will be denied autmotatic promotion on goal difference from Stranraer and will lose in the play-offs to Arbroath.
* The Christmas number 1 will, as usual, be taken by the winner of the Simon Cowell Karaoke Show.