1 January 2015

New Year Predictions 2015

At the start of the year I post not my predictions but some of those which people have come out with in the previous 12 months (January 2014’s are here). This time we are weeks from the UK 2015 election, the outcome of which is currently looking uncertain. One of the first people to point out just how uncertain was the pollster, Peter Kellner, in a post on the YouGov website, Ukip, the SNP and the risks of parliamentary paralysis. He explained:
In recent months it has looked unlikely that either Labour or the Conservatives would win an overall majority next year. There is now a real chance that neither will have a secure majority, even in coalition with the Liberal Democrats. 
… In order for us to be certain that a viable two-party coalition with the Lib Dems is available to at least one of the two main parties, the number of Lib Dem MPs must exceed the total of the other minority parties. 
… the decline in Lib Dem support could leave them with fewer MPs than the combined ranks of the ‘other’ minority party MPs. If that happens there is a real possibility that the parliamentary politics of the House of Commons will be exceedingly messy.
Tony Blair, according to the Daily Telegraph on 25 October, thought otherwise:
The Conservatives will win the next general election because of Ed Miliband’s failure to connect with voters, Tony Blair has said. David Cameron will remain in power next year because Labour has not persuaded Britain it is ready to govern, the former Labour prime minister has apparently told friends. Mr Blair’s verdict on Mr Miliband follows criticism of the Labour leader’s performance from several MPs and will increase concern within the party about his ability to win in May. Mr Blair’s apparent prediction was made in a private conversation with long-standing political allies earlier this month. The Telegraph has been given an account of that conversation by one person who was present. 
“The Conservatives will be the next government because Labour has failed to make a good case for itself. That is what Tony thinks,” the person said. “He does not think that Miliband can beat Cameron.”
Just after the Telegraph had gone to print on 24 October, the Office of Tony Blair tweeted a denial:

And then on 30 December, it was déjà vu all over again. Anne McElvoy tweeted (from Islington, where else?) to puff a piece about to appear in The Economist (incidentally, why does the full URL end “-don’t-go”?):

The key words:
In an interview with The Economist, Mr Blair says that he fears that the next election, due to take place in May 2015, could be a rerun of those before his ascent to the leadership, which regularly ended in disaster for his party. The result in 2015, he quips, could well be an election “in which a traditional left-wing party competes with a traditional right-wing party, with the traditional result”. Asked if he means a Tory win, Mr Blair confirms: “Yes, that is what happens.”
Next day, surprise, surprise, the Office of Tony Blair tweeted a denial:

TB’s prediction methodology: heads he wins, tails he doesn’t lose, one might think. But earlier in the month the Independent on Sunday had run a story, Tony Blair wants Chuka Umunna to be the next Labour leader, which, as far as I can tell, went undenied:
Tony Blair is backing Chuka Umunna to be the next Labour leader, the former prime minister's friends have revealed, in an intervention that will set the battle for succession alight. Several Labour frontbenchers are preparing their leadership campaigns in the event that Ed Miliband fails to secure victory next May. But being anointed by the party's most successful leader could be either a blessing or a curse for Mr Umunna, the shadow Business Secretary, given how far Mr Blair's popularity in the wider Labour movement has fallen.
It would hardly be worth expressing an opinion to “friends” unless, of course, he thought the Labour leadership was going to be an issue in 2015. But Blair has other things on his mind. At the Aspen Ideas Festival in June, he was interviewed by “Yahoo’s Global News Anchor”, Katie Couric, and warned that returning British jihadists ‘could use Kenya terror tactics’ to disrupt UK.

And things could be worse. In October George W Bush’s former Vice President, Dick Cheney, was interviewed by Bill Kristol and warned:
… we’re in a very dangerous period. I think it’s more threatening than the period before 9/11. I think 9/11 will turn out to be not nearly as bad as the next mass casualty attack against the United States, which if and when it comes will be something far more deadlier than airline tickets and box cutters.
Happy New Year.

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