My predictions for 2020


Will Jeremy Corbyn be a musical success? 
For the last eight years I have made some end of year predictions – this seems to have developed into something of a tradition. Intended more to entertain than provide any sort of intelligent forecasts, I do get some things right occasionally. Last year I correctly predicted a difficult 2019 for the Lib Dems, Vince Cable stepping down from the leadership, Theresa May’s tactics leading to her becoming a “lame duck” Prime Minister, in-fighting within the Conservative Party, MPs resigning from Labour, Labour’s strategy proving tragically self-defeating, Corbyn surviving in spite of criticism, UKIP’s slide into irrelevance and England’s cricket team reaching the World Cup Final. 

What I didn’t get right: the Conservatives winning the Peterborough by-election, Theresa May persuading parliament to accept her Brexit deal, Liverpool winning the Premiership and England’s cricket team...well they actually won that final.

The political outlook is pretty gloomy at the moment but all the same I’ve decided to follow my New Year tradition and look into my crystal ball once again. 

POLITICS

The Liberal Democrats

* The only way is up. There’s a tough task ahead to rebuild the party’s fortunes, but a willingness to learn from catastrophic mistakes will help. 

*  Firstly there will of course be a leadership contest. Ed Davey will lose his second bid for the leadership in a year at the first hurdle, with Layla Moran then going on to defeat Daisy Cooper. 

* A huge challenge for the party will be finding the opportunity to talk about issues other than the EU. This is now even more true than it was last year. Our identity has been so defined by opposition to Brexit, and to some degree the coalition years, that it’s inevitably going to be difficult to present ourselves in a different light. As Labour proved at the recent general election, detailed policy platforms in themselves do little to make a party attractive.

* With no General Election likely, Layla Moran will at least have the opportunity to establish herself and forge a positive identity for the party and will benefit - as the year progresses – from increasing unease at the direction of Boris Johnson’s government on Brexit.

* As in 2017, expect gains at local government level as the party seeks to rebuild from the grassroots upwards.

The Conservative Party

* 2019 has ended very well for the Conservative Party – or so it seems. Unfortunately for them, however, a general election victory and the comfortable majority it gave them for a non-defined programme will prove problematic. Leaving the EU on 31st January won’t “get Brexit done” as will become painfully obvious, and with so much uncertainty ahead the facade of a party united behind its leader will be shown for what it is.

* Johnson will agree a trade deal with the EU. The EU wants it, he wants it...the difficulty is that many of his own MPs will not, especially when it comes to the UK agreeing to maintain EU standards on the environment and labour. There will be another parliamentary showdown that the government will win, but which will be hugely damaging to the party. Cue complaints that the UK has left the EU “in name only”.

* The Conservative majority at Westminster will allow Boris Johnson the opportunity to do so much, but mercifully a government with such socially-regressive instincts will continue to find itself preoccupied with the ongoing Brexit issue, which has simply moved onto the next stage.

* Questions of competence will inevitably be raised about key cabinet ministers, including Javid, Patel and the Prime Minister himself.

The Labour Party

* Labour are in complete disarray, but little is likely to change on that front any time soon. The party’s internal inquiry into the general election disaster will be inward-looking, London-centric and disinclined to make criticisms of anything other than processes and electoral tactics.

* The farce of a leadership contest will divide the party further. Corbynistas will see Rebecca Long-Bailey as the outgoing leader’s natural successor; Long-Bailey will try to extend her appeal by playing the “patriotic” card at every opportunity. Keir Starmer will eventually emerge as her main opponent, but will marginally fall short – mainly on account of the union vote.

* The leadership battle will have the effect of confirming Labour has learned nothing from its recent experiences, instead preferring to repeat them. But it will also plunge the party into new factional battles, damaging the party’s credibility further.

* On the plus side, after decades of campaigning against it, Labour will finally realise that the FPTP electoral system no longer works in their interests and should be replaced. Their belated endorsement of political reform will trigger constructive cross-party dialogue and the emergence of a new consensus among parties other than the Tories (and bodies such as the ERS) on the way forward, which will help capture the public imagination at a time when the new government will struggle to convince the electorate it is acting in their interests in spite of its majority.

* On the negative side, under Long-Bailey Labour’s view of pluralism will remain unidirectional, requiring other parties to do whatever Labour instructs.

* Sadiq Khan will be comfortably re-elected as London mayor.

The Scottish National Party

* There can be no escaping the fact that the prospect of “Indyref 2” will dominate the political dialogue in Scotland. Being the kind of cynical person I am, I would suggest that it will be in Boris Johnson’s interests to have an early referendum, and in the SNP’s for a later one once the detail of the Brexit reality becomes clearer - but obviously, for political reasons, neither can state this publicly. For reasons of mere practicality an earlier referendum is unlikely – the result will be a “phoney war” between the SNP and the Johnson government in Westminster. Battle lines will be drawn and we’ll see a lot of bluster (especially from Johnson) but action will be in short supply...for now.

* The SNP, while suffering from some public criticism of its performance in government, will as always be aided by the ineptitude of its opponents – most obviously Scottish Labour, but also the Tories and Lib Dems whose eagerness to focus on the independence issue actually plays to the SNP’s advantage.

* In Westminster the SNP will provide far more effective opposition to the government’s Brexit strategy than Labour. Not for the first time.

The Brexit Party

* Once the UK’s MEPs are made redundant at the end of January, at least the national embarrassment of having Ann Widdecombe, Richard Tice and Claire Fox as elected representatives will be ended. But the Brexit Party will not go away.

* There will be some disagreement among Brexit Party personnel (I can’t say members, as there is no membership scheme) as to whether to support or oppose Johnson’s trade deal. Ultimately, being a party with a lack of internal democratic processes, everything will come down to what Nigel Farage thinks. When he decides to berate Johnson and criticise the terms of the deal, the Brexit Party will find some renewed purpose as the party of “no deal”.

International

* The German “grand coalition” will come to an end, mainly because the SDP have become increasingly uncomfortable with their role.

* Donald Trump will be re-elected. I know it seems inconceivable to those of us who would love a different outcome, but my own view is that the election will come down to the same states that made the difference last time – and I suspect Trump’s populist soundbites and claims of political persecution may well win the day there. He could become the first president to secure two terms without winning the popular vote on either occasion.

* The fall-out between Poland and Russia in regards their respective re-writings of European history will drag on – and become more serious.

* Expect a year of upheaval in South America and potentially Mexico, as economic concerns combined with a growing sense of social inequality lead to widespread protest.

FOOTBALL

* Liverpool will win the English Premiership this year (I can’t see too many disagreeing with that). The relegated teams will be Norwich City, Aston Villa and Brighton & Hove Albion. Leeds United, West Bromwich Albion and Fulham will be promoted from the Championship. Stevenage will lose their league status, while Barrow will return to the football league after a 48 year absence (being joined by Yeovil Town).

* The Scottish Premiership is shaping up to be one of the most interesting in recent memory, but  I suspect Celtic will edge it. Dundee United and Ayr United will be promoted, replacing Hearts and St Mirren. At the other end of the league, Brechin City will finish bottom but will survive in the play offs.

IN LIGHTER VEIN...

* With little to talk about after 31st January, the Daily Mail and Daily Express will dedicate most of their pages to discussion of recent moderate snowfall across parts of the country.

* Following an election in which the Conservatives won in the most unlikely of constituencies, Boris Johnson opts to hold the party conference in Blyth. Attempts by cabinet ministers to acquaint themselves with locals in a bid to come across as “authentically listening to the working class” backfire spectacularly – but will make entertaining YouTube videos.

* Team GB will do well in the Olympic Games, with 25 gold medals. Boris Johnson will make an embarrassing speech congratulating the medallists in which he makes some apparently racist references towards the Japanese hosts. When news media seek to question him on this he looks to hide himself within some kitchen equipment but has to make do with a nearby manhole instead.

* Jeremy Corbyn will retire as an MP “to spend more time promoting the Labour movement”. He will form a new band with Billy Bragg, which will secure the Christmas number 1 spot with “Left for Christmas”. The success leads the duo to create "Jeremy Corbyn: The Musical", which will tour the UK the following year.

* Mark Zuckerberg will launch a new Facebook Bank. It will collapse within six months, but Mark will feel the data obtained from customers will have made the venture worthwhile.

* PlayStation5 will finally be launched. The sales campaign for the new console will have the refreshingly honest slogan: “Buy it now before it becomes obsolete”.

* A lower league professional footballer will come out as gay. No-one will care, apart from the player’s dad who had no idea and says he wished he’d told the family first “so we could have had a party with your boyfriend instead of having that prick from The Sun asking us stupid questions”.

* I still won’t have paid off my student debt.

Finally, I would like to wish all of you a happy and successful 2020. It has to be better than 2019...

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