Just over a year ago when I was coming home from the Edinburgh Hogmanay street party, I was rather chuffed to spot that I had finished third in the annual PB prediction competition (not that I won a prize or anything). Alas, this time around I had to settle for mid-table respectability, finishing 37th out of 80 entrants - partly because I made such a pig's ear of the murderously difficult seat predictions for the English local elections.
But of course a lot more water has passed under the bridge in my relationship with PB over the last twelve months than simply my waning powers of prophecy. Question - does my ongoing Kafkaesque banning from the site mean that I'm also automatically banned from the prediction competition? Answer - I don't know, but let's find out! Here is the entry I've just submitted for 2014...
UK Prime Minister on Christmas Day : DAVID CAMERON
UK Deputy Prime Minister on Christmas Day : NICK CLEGG
UK Shadow Chancellor on Christmas Day : ED BALLS
Of course there is uncertainty over the position of both Balls and Clegg (and there's still a small chance of an early general election, in which case all bets are off). But I always feel that the percentage prediction in these situations is no change, because even if one of them is displaced, it's quite possible that the replacement will be a complete surprise.
Yes vote in Scottish independence referendum : 52%
GB Conservative vote in European elections : 19%
GB Labour vote in European elections : 25%
GB Liberal Democrat vote in European elections : 8%
GB UKIP vote in European elections : 24%
As I've said a number of times, I wouldn't be surprised by either a Yes or No vote in September, but as it's the contest I care most about, I certainly have no intention of erring on the side of pessimism! The Euro elections are traditionally the toughest terrain for the Lib Dems, so I expect them to take a pounding, while I just have a gut feeling that UKIP might fall slightly short of their objective of topping the poll. Incidentally, I don't really agree with the theory that a UKIP victory would be the worst possible result for the No campaign in Scotland - for my money, that would be the Conservatives in first place, UKIP in second place. If as I predict Labour do narrowly top the poll, that will be completely meaningless in terms of their hopes of winning next year's UK general election - opposition parties have a long history of winning European elections and then failing to win at Westminster (for example Labour won the 1989 Euros under Neil Kinnock, and even more incredibly the Tories won the 1999 Euros under William Hague).
Winner of the Brazilian Presidential election : DILMA ROUSSEFF
Prime Minister after Indian general election : NARENDRA MODI
Control of the US Senate after the November mid-terms : REPUBLICANS
I erred on the side of optimism with the independence referendum, so I'd probably better balance that out by doing the opposite with the US Senate! Unfortunately Congress seems to be in trouble in India, so I've plumped for the BJP's Prime Ministerial candidate, but the situation is very uncertain and all things remain possible.
ICM/Guardian GB-wide polls over the course of 2014 -
Labour high : 38%
Labour low : 32%
Conservative high : 36%
Conservative low : 29%
Liberal Democrat high : 15%
Liberal Democrat low : 11%
UKIP high : 14%
UKIP low : 7%
Labour's highest lead : 8%
Labour's lowest lead : -4%
The difficulty here is that I'm being pulled in two directions - on the one hand, I think this could well be the year in which there is a decisive swing back to the Tories, paving the way for their already highly probable win in the 2015 general election. But on the other hand, the European elections could complicate matters in the middle of the year, with a temporary UKIP surge harming both Labour and the Tories. The Liberal Democrat figures may look a touch on the high side, but that's because ICM tend to be more favourable for them. I've been guided by the range of Lib Dem support over the last twelve months - I don't really expect things to get much better or worse than they already are for Clegg's mob.