So, we head into 2016 with the words of Harold Wilson ringing in our ears; “A week is a long time in politics”. Well if a week is a long time then this year is going to feel like a lifetime for David Cameron and chums.
A European Brexit and turbulent Tories
The most important question is will 2016 be the year we say goodbye to the European Union and to David Cameron? The Prime Minister’s New Year message did not seem to indicate he was in too much of a hurry. He described a ‘turnaround decade’ but whether he likes it or not, the EU referendum vote will be the start of the Conservative leadership contest. Regardless of the result it is hard to see Cameron surviving beyond six months of what is likely to be a very exciting night in either June or September.
George Osborne has firmly nailed his colours to the EU mast and with Cameron campaigning to remain in the EU, it only remains a mystery whether Boris and Theresa May will follow suit or plough their own field with the leave campaign.
The Brexit issue will cause more problems for the Conservatives if the PM insists on Cabinet collective responsibility for the campaign and the vote. It is easy to predict who will get behind the PM. Despite their rhetoric, figures like Business Secretary Sajid Javid will ‘purr’ loyalty to the PM and IDS will tell him to stuff it. The idea that Boris will allow himself to be caught in the loyalty trap with the lure of becoming Foreign Secretary is not a runner is it? I for one believe he already has the set of Latin phrases that will allow him to graciously turn the PM’s offer down.
The ever-persistent, omnipresent Liam Fox and his band of merry men, (130 Tory MPs at last count) who are ready to campaign to leave will cement the split in the party and cause carnage. But hey the party can split and reform more times that a boy-band when you have an opposition made up of 56 angry Scottish Nationalists, a rump of half a dozen Lib Dems talking to themselves and in shock therapy following their election drubbing a Labour Party about to turn itself into a Trotskyite cult. The Conservatives can tear themselves up to their hearts content and still win the next election with any leader of their choosing.
It is hard to see what will be on the table in 2016 when we do finally see what the PM has negotiated. So far, it seems he’s likely to get very little if anything by way of meaningful reform in the EU. The ‘Stronger In’ campaign have to rely now on the politics of fear and scaremongering that trade will cease immediately, millions of jobs will be lost overnight and the greatest nation ever to grace planet earth will be unable to function at all unless it is a member of the most corrupt, regressive, economically stagnant, chaotic and disorganised political club in history.
Now, some people will buy that campaign position but will it be enough? It is clear that there will be no reform in the areas that drastically require it, the wider European economy, immigration, the sovereignty of the British parliament and our courts. But it is going to be nasty, divisive and rough, so strap yourself in folks.
Will the Labour Party face the undeniable truth?
And what can we expect from the Labour Party in 2016? More of the same I fear. Confusion, policy made up as they go along, splits, and much, much more. Will there be an SDP moment within the Labour Party? Who knows? More likely the desperate Lib Dems will make a play for any disgruntled Labour moderates, whether that will pay off, again, who knows but it will be interesting to watch. It is conceivable that Corbyn and his left wing band will steer Labour to some election success in Scotland maybe and in the local elections but that will merely prolong Labour’s agony. To help things, I will let them into a little secret. The public have already decided that no matter what goes on, however, bad it all becomes, they will be not be voting for Corbyn as PM in 2020. How the Parliamentary Labour Party responds to this fact will shape their year.
Scottish Independence – a pipe dream on the scale of predicted oil revenues
North of the border, the ungrateful, Scottish Nationalists are frothing at the mouth. How dare those 55 million English people tell us 5 million Scots whether we should be a member of the EU or not! Who do they think they are?
The last time I checked Ms Sturgeon, we lived in one country and a democracy at that. The ever-lasting definition of a democracy being that the will of the majority should prevail whether that is exercised in an alleged ‘once in a generation’ referendum on Scottish Independence or whether to remain a member of the European Union. Sorry, but that is how it works. Scotland, despite it really aching you, is not an Independent country and does not take these decisions on its own. It honours the collective will of all of the people of our United Kingdom.
We want another referendum on Independence. Not in 2016 though Nicola. The oil price has tanked and nothing much has changed since September 2014, the prospects of Scotland surviving without being pressed firmly to English money teat are no better now than they were eighteen months ago. If and when Scotland ever finally does vote to leave the UK, they are welcome to join the EURO, that widely successful monetary currency that is slowly bleeding the states of Europe to death. Your best hope Nicola is to ask the English for their view on Scottish Independence – you would get the answer you want in a flash, YES, YES, YES.
The ‘exciting’ race to become the next Mayor of London
The race to become the Mayor of London will take off with earnest in the next few months. How exciting a choice between Sadiq Khan or Zac Goldsmith. In fact I fear London will never have such an inspiring choice of leadership to choose from ever again. I suspect Khan will take it, due to an increase in traditional Labour supporting communities. Those same people are likely to reject the Tory rich boy this time around. Zac’s problem is that he’s not Boris and don’t get me started on the convenient six-month delay to a decision about Heathrow expansion.
It’s clear we have lots to look forward to, and could it be by the end of 2016, the Conservative and Labour Parties both have new leaders. Don’t dismiss that one out of hand, anything could happen.
A Happy New Political Year to you all.