Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Political predictions for 2014

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.


  1. I presume that you are following a PB format, but I think that the decisive event will be a Con/UKIP arrangement (perhaps along the lines of that suggested by Toby Young) after a strong UKIP showing in the Euro election.

    I know that Farage and Cameron are not exactly chums, but in terms of party political accommodations/alliances this has to be the world's easiest to bring about.

  2. I agree with Alasdair, but the arrangement will be announced AFTER the referendum.

  3. Republicans being Republicans, they will not gain control of the U.S. Senate in November. They may retain control of the House of Representatives (God forbid!), but even that could be jeopardized if enough teabaggers are nominated in the Republican Party primary elections between now and then.

    And since the corporate Republicans have declared war on the teabaggers, and vice versa, the party tearing itself apart will be a fun sight to see.

    Prepare plenty of popcorn if you're going to watch, and visit Daily Kos and Talking Points Memo on a regular basis.

  4. Actually, FORTUNATELY Congress seems to be in trouble in India.

    The Congress party in India is even more corrupt than the Tory, Labour and Liberal Democrat parties here.

  5. To be fair to myself, I didn't mean I would vote for Congress if I was in India - quite apart from the corruption, they've been following a firmly neoliberal agenda since they got back into power. I just mean they're preferable to the most likely alternative.

  6. "I just mean they're preferable to the most likely alternative."

    That is like Mike Dailly of the Govan Law Centre saying that he hates everything about the UK but he is voting no to Scottish independence because the SNP wants to keep the Queen.

  7. It's not even remotely like that - in fact, it's the polar opposite. It's like Dailly coming to his senses and supporting independence (with all the imperfections he sees in it) because it's preferable to the only alternative, which is being ruled by Tories we didn't vote for two-thirds of the time.

  8. No, it is exactly the same.

    According to Dailly, corrupt Tory rule is preferable to democratic SNP rule in Independent Scotland.

    According to yourself, corrupt Congress rule is preferable to democratic BJP rule.

    It is like Anas Sarwar claiming that democratic SNP rule is like a dictatorship because he doesn't like it.

    If you think Congress rule is preferable to BJP rule, you are as deluded as Johann Lamont and Anas Sarwar.

  9. No, it is not exactly the same. I don't know why you've got such a bee in your bonnet about this, but you're comparing apples and tractors.

    Please don't put words in my mouth - "democratic" is certainly not the first word that would spring to my mind when describing the BJP. Do you seriously believe that they're free of corruption? I make no apology for suggesting that Congress are the lesser of two evils.

  10. Your words:

    "I just mean they're preferable to the most likely alternative".

    You prefer the most corrupt party in the world, the Congress, to the BJP.

    ANYTHING is preferable to the Congress in India.

    Congress is the equivalent of Labour in Scotland. It stands for corruption, vote bank politics and finds it in its interests to keep the people poor.

    To you the BJP is not democratic, just like the SNP government is not democratic according to Anas Sarwar.

    Stop commenting about Indian politics like the London based media comments about Scottish politics.

  11. Look, with all due respect, if you want to pull rank on me with your knowledge of Indian politics, you need to stop posting anonymously. Your characterisations of the BJP as saintly and Congress as the worst thing on the planet seem absurdly simplistic to me, but if you have some special expertise, or are Indian yourself, by all means share your identity. Anonymous posting is absolutely fine, but it doesn't work so well when you're trying to throw your weight around.

  12. YOU made a stupid, misleading and "absurdly simplistic" comment that Congress was preferable to the BJP.

    If you have any sense, you should withdraw it.

    This is what Kiran Bedi, a leading anti-corruption campaigner not aligned to any political party, said yesterday:

    "I am saying this in the interest of the nation, we need a Congress free government, and we have only one option with us, and that is BJP, under the leadership of Narendra Modi"

    I am not an expert on Indian politics and who I am does not matter.

    I have not said that BJP is saintly. But it is preferable to Congress.

    Congress has been described as the most corrupt party in the world by yoga guru Ramdeva, a leading campaigner for bringing back black money to India. It is believed that most of it has been siphoned out by Congress politicians and their lackeys.

    As to the main point of your blog, I am definitely voting Yes.

  13. "YOU made a stupid, misleading and "absurdly simplistic" comment that Congress was preferable to the BJP."

    For heaven's sake, man, it's an opinion! It's an opinion based on my values, informed by the facts as far as I know them. You truly think that there is only one valid opinion on any given subject, and that anyone who diverges from it must be bludgeoned into submission? Grow up. I'm sorry to have to say that to you, but it's entirely appropriate - grow up.

    Yes, you can cite individuals who prefer the BJP to Congress - those are people with opinions, just like I am someone with an opinion. They are not dispensing the word of God, and others hold a different view. As far as I can gather, the left parties in India (while fiercely critical of Congress) do not take the view that the BJP are preferable, and regard a Modi premiership as a disaster.

  14. Your opinion that Congress is preferable to BJP is equivalent to an Indian blogger having an opinion that Scottish Labour is preferable to the SNP because of the former's 'Socialist' values.

    Congress 'values' = Scottish Labour 'values'.

    I am sorry but it you who needs to grow up.

    47% of Scottish voters found the SNP preferable and probably 47% of Indian voters will find BJP and its allies preferable.

  15. The left parties being anti BJP is equivalent to George Galloway being anti SNP and anti Independence.

  16. "Your opinion that Congress is preferable to BJP is equivalent to an Indian blogger having an opinion that Scottish Labour is preferable to the SNP because of the former's 'Socialist' values."

    Do you know what, if an Indian blogger did say that, what I would do is tell him why I think he is wrong. If he had made any specific factual mistakes in forming that opinion I would point those out as well, because that's often the best chance of getting someone to change their mind. What I would not do, however, is jump up and down, stamp my feet, and demand that the person in question WITHDRAWS his opinion simply because it differs from my own. Anyone who does behave in such a way is not only being childish, they have completely lost the plot.

    Daniel Patrick Moynihan famously said that "everyone is entitled to his own opinion, but not to his own facts". You don't seem to think that anyone has the right to their own opinions - or else you're unable to distinguish between facts and opinions. Either way, you're beyond reasoning with. I don't know how you can cope with the fact that different people vote different ways in elections - do you think everyone who votes Labour should issue you with a personal apology?

    "The left parties being anti BJP is equivalent to George Galloway being anti SNP"

    Flippin' heck, do these uncannily inaccurate comparisons between India and Scotland never cease? Is Johann Lamont our Sonia Gandhi? Is George Foulkes our Manmohan Singh?