Adam McGee considers this year’s (possible) political events
If the magical mystery tour that was 2015 taught us anything, it was that we know nothing. We have absolutely no idea what is going to happen next. Remember those ‘Miliband and Cameron are tied in the polls’ reports? They turned out to be slightly wrong.
So rather than predict what will happen this year, as the first month of 2016 draws to a close I’ve had a thought about what might happen for this year’s big political events. Possibly. Maybe. Who really knows?
Cameron and Osborne’s long-promised in/out EU referendum is likely to happen this year. It all depends on whether Cameron is able to come to certain agreements within the next few weeks. If he does, expect a summer full of campaigning and a referendum in the autumn. Probably.
Regardless of when the referendum is to be held, it will reveal deep splits in the Conservative party, with many MPs and ministers likely to go against their leader and campaign for an exit.
It will also reveal some fractures going on in UKIP at the moment. Nigel Farage, Mr ‘Leave EU’ himself, is determined to lead the parties campaign for ‘Brexit’. However, UKIP’s only MP, Douglas Carswell, has voiced reservations about this, claiming Farage would give the campaign a “nasty party” image. If the two cannot resolve this quite substantial disagreement, expect to see some fragmentation in the workings of UKIP too.
On the subject of UKIP, regardless of the outcome of the referendum, what will the fate of the party be? Should Britain decide to leave Europe, UKIP’s main objective will have been completed. What will they stand for then? If Britain decides to remain in the EU, they will have failed to achieve this objective. What then for the party? Expect such questions of the party’s role post-referendum to feature prominently over the coming year.
London Mayoral Elections
Boris’ tenure as Mayor of London ends this May, when a fierce contest between Conservative candidate Zac Goldsmith and Labour candidate Sadiq Khan will follow. Expect the main areas of debate to be on housing, pollution, and transport.
The result will be an interesting one for Labour. A victory would be a significant boost to the Corbyn leadership, despite Khan being an ex-New Labour Minister. A loss could seriously undermine Corbyn. If you thought last year’s Oldham by-election was a test for Corbyn, the Mayoral elections will blow that out of the water in terms of importance.
American Presidential Elections
The US Presidential elections are coming up at the end of the year. Next month, the Democrats and Republicans will vote for their candidates. After that, six months of campaigning will fill the summer with debates, pin badges and opportunistic photo shoots.
While it is tentatively likely Hilary Clinton will win the Democratic nomination, it is far less clear who the Republican candidate will be. Donald Trump, who is currently at the top of the opinion polls (which we now know should be taken with a large pinch of salt) is splitting the party, alienating many traditional Republicans with his increasingly hard-line, racist messages, yet is attracting many others through his anti-establishment rhetoric. And while almost everyone in Europe can see that Trump as a presidential candidate would threaten the very existence of humanity, there is always a possibility, still remote, that he might succeed.
What seems more likely is that the Texan Ted Cruz, himself an ice-cold political player and hard-line Tea Party evangelist, will win the nomination in Iowa, appealing to a sensible, establishment Republican voter. If he does become the Republican candidate rather than Trump, this could be a problem for the Democrats. Trump is likely to alienate many moderates into either not voting or voting for parties outside the traditional ‘main two’, reducing support for the Republicans and gliding the second Clinton in a generation into the White House. However, Cruz, in the same way as Bushes Sr. and Jr. won previously, is likely to play to the wishes of conservative, establishment voters. This would make a Democratic victory much harder to achieve.
For more on this, check out Grace Segers’ page (she’s essentially our resident America correspondent).
Featured image credit: Flickr/ Daniel Voyager