Iain Dale is Presenter of LBC Drive, Managing Director of Biteback Publications, a columnist and broadcaster and a former Conservative Parliamentary candidate.
Each New Year I make some political predictions, and then a year later look back to see how I did.
Back in December 2013 these were my predictions…
- UKIP will win the European elections. CORRECT.
- Nigel Farage will resign as UKIP leader in the second half of the year Incorrect.
- Jeremy Paxman will leave Newsnight. CORRECT.
- Eddie Mair or Nick Robinson will replace him. Incorrect.
- Abba will reunite for a one-off concert. Incorrect.
- Scotland will vote No. CORRECT.
- Belgium will reach the semi-finals of the World Cup. Incorrect.
- There will be another royal pregnancy. CORRECT.
- Simon & Schuster and HarperCollins announce merger to compete with Penguin Random House. Incorrect.
- I end the year weighing under 16 stones, for the first time in 20 years. Incorrect.
Four or maybe five out of ten. Failure! I think the previous year I had achieved seven out of ten… So let’s see if I can do better for 2015.
- Three political party leaders will resign by the end of the year.
- Norwich City will be promoted to the Premier League.
- At least one politician associated with the child sex abuse claims will be arrested and charged.
- Ian Katz will be the new editor of The Guardian.
- Jason Seiken will leave the Telegraph.
- Nick Robinson will steps down as political editor of the BBC by the end of the year.
- Interest rates remain where they are for the rest of the year.
- Tim Farron becomes the new leader of the Liberal Democrats…(what’s left of them).
- ISIS launch attacks in Lebanon and/or Jordan.
- John Kerry steps down as US Secretary of State.
As some of you may have noticed, I have been trying during the last few weeks to predict the outcome of individual seats at the next election.
Why am I bothering, I hear you ask? I ask myself that too sometimes: as it’s quite a balls-aching task to complete. So far, I have covered about 300 seats, mainly in the South of England, London and the Midlands. Obviously, I don’t have intimate knowledge of each seat I am trying to predict, but you can tell a lot by the outcome of the previous three or four elections, by looking at demographic trends and by using bit of old fashioned political nouse.
The main drawback is that I am having to make some uncomfortable predictions relating to various MPs who are friends. Some have taken it better than others. But in the end I can’t let my heart rule my head, and if I did it wouldn’t be worth doing it. At least I am putting my head above the parapet rather than rely on ridiculous national swing figures, which frankly aren’t at all relevant.
My biggest dread is what to do about Scotland. If you look at the polls there the SNP are likely to wipe out Labour and reduce them to single figures. I just don’t believe it. Anyway, I am doing my predictions county by county, so if you want to see what I have done so far click. The list will be added to every day until I have finished – sometime in February, I imagine.
Six years ago my partner and I got married. Well, that’s how we viewed it at the time. My partner never refers to our “civil partnership”. He always talks about “our wedding”. So when equal marriage was introduced, we sort of scratched our heads and wondered what the point of it all was for us. The whole concept of an “upgrade’”seemed so cold, full of logic but with no romance. And in many ways it still does.
So if we already consider ourselves “married”, what on earth is the point of “upgrading”? So far as I can see, in terms of the law getting “properly married” would give each of us the same rights over each other’s pension that a straight couple would have. And, er, that’s about it.
Or is it? Not quite. Marriages are solemnised by a prescribed form of words. Civil partnerships just involve signing a legal form, with no words having to be spoken, although they can be if the two people wish it. We did. For some reason marriages are recorded on paper, while civil partnerships are recorded electronically. Don’t ask me why that is. It just is.
But of course it’s more than about any of the above: it’s actually about equality, isn’t it? It’s about being seen as equal to our straight counterparts. Except of course, we are not, and maybe never will be. .
Of course, under the Equal Marriage laws, the likes of us can’t get married in a church, even if the church or vicar was prepared to do it. Of course, in our case, where neither of us are believers, they would have a very good case for not marrying us anyway – but there are plenty of gay Christians out there who would dearly love to be able to get married in a church, and it is my strong hope that one day they will be able to do so.
But for us on as yet undecided date in 2015, seven years after our civil partnership, we’re going to get properly hitched. Well, it’s one way of avoiding the seven year itch, isn’t it?
I feel very sorry for Roger Bird. Despite being found innocent of any wrongdoing in the UKIP inquiry, he’s had his character traduced in the media by someone who has clearly displayed fantasist tendencies. And even though he has been found innocent, he and UKIP have mutually agreed to part company.
This doesn’t surprise me, but it is more for UKIP’s benefit than Bird’s. No matter what the facts are, when people hear the name Roger Bird they will associate him with this incident. He’s behaved well throughout, and although one may call his judgement into question for entering into a relationship at work, it’s hardly a sackable offence.
So what now for Roger Bird? He’s standing by UKIP and he says he will do all he can to support UKIP candidates at the election. It strikes me that he might consider carving out a little media niche as the go-to pundit on UKIP matters. He’d do quite well during the run-up to the election because basically he would have little competition. He knows the party and its personalities inside out, and there aren’t many who can say that.
In essence. he could do for UKIP what Olly Grender did for the LibDems in the runup to 2010 – provide the media with an informed, amusing and insightful voice on all matters pertaining to UKIP. I’ll give him his first booking when I am back on the radio on 5 January. Unless someone gets there before me!
Well, we’re in for an exciting few months in the first part of the year. Can David Cameron win a majority? Will Ed Miliband form a coalition with the LibDems, and if so will Nick Clegg still be their leader? Will Nigel Farage win a seat, and if he doesn’t will he quit? Just a few of the questions we’ll know the answers to very soon. I wish you all a very Happy New Year – and look forward to trying to keep you entertained every Friday on ConHome.