Tories unexpectedly win the general election and form a small majority government, confounding the polls. Labour face a major debate over its future and has to choose a path back to power; to turn left, right or keep going. US politics is dominated by a maverick businessman with designs on the White House as he tries to beat a Clinton and a Bush. Debates on Europe dominate the media and politics in the UK with the Tory party flirting with self destruction. Name the year; 1992 or 2015?
Don’t worry, this is not another tedious and tenuous comparison piece trying desperately to link events of Major, Smith, Perot and a crowd of cabinet ‘bastards’ with today. Frankly, who really cares about the historical comparisons. We are in the middle of a fantastically interesting period in politics – well, for those of us with fur-hooded, orange lined, political anoraks. We should enjoy it after the years and years of stale, boring, predictable politics we endured from 1992-2010.
2016 is a huge year which will define the next 10 years of British politics and beyond. We will learn a lot over the next twelve months………
- Whether Jeremy Corbyn’s tenure as Labour leader lasts a year (looking more likely this month than last) and in the meantime how quickly he asserts control over his Party; from shadow cabinet reshuffles; changes to the policy-making process and the role of party conference; and how far he allows (or indirectly supports) the takeover of local party committees (read parliamentary candidate selection panels) by groups like Momentum leading to the deselections of siting (unhelpful) MPs
- Whether David Cameron – a.k.a Kenny Rodgers (the Gambler) continues his winning streak with major political flutters; this time a Euro referendum after success in forming the Coalition and the Scottish Independence vote.
- Whether Britain’s place in the world – more specifically in Europe – survives – as the current renegotiation ends and the referendum campaign happens – and then whether the result leads to a second Scottish independence referendum and more purring from The Queen
- Whether the Scottish elections confirm the domination of the SNP, the decline of Labour north of the border and the relative resurgence of the Tories
- Whether the elections in Northern Ireland will make any difference to the overall political landscape on the island of Ireland with elections in the Republic during the year and the centenary of the 1916 Rising creating a possible fairytale for at least one party in green
- Whether this is the last full year of David Cameron’s leadership of the Conservative Party and how the ambitions of his successors fare – eyes especially on May, Johnson and Osborne but also the would-be kingmakers in Fox, Patterson and co
- Whether one eye-catching Tory follows another in to City Hall and what the decision on Heathrow’s third runway will mean for the London Mayoral election or any possible west London by-elections
- Whether the GOP will find someone, anyone, who could beat Hillary Clinton in the fall of the year to become the leader of the free world.
What a year ahead and I haven’t even covered half of the ground. A year to savour. A year to keep us anoraks in business. A year to prove the maxim that with all this going on a week will surely be a very long time in politics.