Wednesday, 21 December 2011

antifrank's almanac – reviewing last year's predictions

This time last year, I was foolish enough to commit some predictions to pb2. It seems only fair to look at them again now with the benefit of hindsight and see how I did. My self-assessment is written in italics.

"1. Labour will prosper in the polls

In the short term, this trend will help Labour. When the public is in a hostile mood, the lightning will be directed at the parties in power. As the cuts bite deeper and taxes rise, Labour should rise in the polls. Even if the economy continues to grow, the public will feel poorer. Ed Miliband will have to work quite hard to mess this up."

Meh. When I wrote my prediction, Labour were around 42% with YouGov and polled 39% with ICM the following week. This week, Labour are around 40-42% with YouGov and polled 34% with ICM last week. So they didn't rise in the polls. Ed Miliband has not cut through in the way that he would have hoped.

"Labour can hope to win something close to an absolute majority in both Scotland and Wales with good campaigns."

I didn't see the SNP triumph coming then (though I did make a lot of money out of it a few months later). In Wales, Labour got exactly 30 out of 60 seats. If I were being cheeky, I'd give myself half marks, but the Welsh prediction was a lot easier to get right.

"2. The Greens may well become more influential

But unless Ed Miliband can turn around initial public perceptions of him, it's likely that other parties also will benefit. The Greens seem to have a major opportunity: leftwingers in particular seem to feel let down by all their regular choices. If they positioned themselves wisely, the Greens could scoop up a lot of left of centre voters who don't yet feel that the Labour party that has yet found a new direction. To date, the Greens have decided against compromising with the electorate. Do they have the vision to see their opportunity?"

Apparently not. The Greens have been conspicuous by their absence from political debate. They have only themselves to blame.

"3. UKIP should resurface

There is also an opportunity on the right. The Conservatives have got the sound money right wing vote locked up. Can UKIP exploit the cuts to its own advantage? They would need to take a populist rightwing approach, but such approaches have worked well in quite a few European countries (Belgium, the Netherlands, Italy and Hungary, for example) and UKIP could do much worse than look to continental Europe for inspiration. What they really need is an impeccable rightwing campaign that needs government spending. The armed forces, perhaps?"

UKIP barely did better than the Greens. They came second in Barnsley Central, had the minor success of holding their deposits in Feltham & Heston, but otherwise, nothing. They failed to broaden their appeal to become a populist right-wing party and failed even to make much of an impact in the biggest crisis to hit the EU in decades. A couple of snotty speeches in the European Parliament are not going to give UKIP power and influence. They urgently need to rethink their entire strategy.

"4. The Lib Dems will continue to flounder"

Not my most challenging prediction.

"Expect to see the Lib Dems retreat into hyper-localism. This may prove more effective than the major two parties expect in the local elections, but is unlikely to help them much in Scotland or Wales, in both of which they can expect to be spanked."

It didn't prove much more effective in the local elections than the major two parties expected, but Scotland and Wales were just as predicted.

"On the other hand, they might just take Oldham East & Saddleworth if they can harness the tactical Tory vote."

They could, but they mightn't.

"5. The Tories will stay in touch with Labour

Tory supporters like the cuts, at least the principle of them. The Tory poll ratings have slid gently but consistently through the last few months and will probably continue to do so while the cuts continue to bite. But I doubt the slide will accelerate and in Scotland the Tories might even get an increase in support in May. In the local elections, the Conservatives will lose a lot of seats, but perhaps not as many as might be expected, given how badly placed Labour are in so many parts of southern England."

The heading was more accurate than the detail. The Tories are currently polling considerably better than I had imagined this time last year. But the Tories lost seats in Scotland and gained local election seats in England. The trajectory for the Tories has been at the top end of my expectations for them this time last year.

"6. The AV referendum will be lost

The election will take place after two weeks of Royal wedding mania and no one cares about electoral reform. The referendum will be seen to be about Nick Clegg. If Ed Miliband campaigns hard for AV also, it might also come to be seen to be a referendum about him. At the moment, neither are voter magnets."

One unequivocal success. It's particularly gratifying to see that I was right at least partly for the right reasons.

"7. Fewer than half of my predictions will come true.


Another unequivocal success!

I shall put up my predictions for next year to have rotten tomatoes hurled at fairly soon.



Morris Dancer said...

To be fair, your opinions generally were very much in line with many (maybe most) others', including my own.

I expected a weaker Conservative polling level and a correspondingly higher measure of Labour support.

In addition, 2011 has been a year of Black Swans. The Arab Spring, eurozone debt crisis, multiple disasters etc etc have made it highly unpredictable.

MrsB said...

actually amazingly accurate all things considered. As Morris said, a lot of unexpected things have been going on. He failed to mention hackgate or the riots. Or the Labour party conference which gave non-Labourites such amusement.

Anonymous said...


Interesting - I look forward to your predictions for 2012!