God knows what will happen in 2020 – not me!
There’s an old Yiddish saying: “Man plans and God laughs”. On New Year’s Day last year I made a list of bold predictions for 2019 – some of them were a bit out there, some were driven more by hope than empirical evidence. They started well.
I predicted that Theresa May would lose her first meaningful vote on her original withdrawal agreement. From there on however, things went south. Amber Rudd is not Prime Minister. The Mueller Inquiry did not kill off Trump’s presidency and we are not returning to membership of the European Union following a victory for Remain in a summer ‘peoples vote’. That sound you hear is God having a good old chuckle at yours truly.
As it happened I couldn’t have predicted much of what went on last year, either in politics or in my personal life. 2019 was supposed to be election free, but I found myself chairing the Scottish leg of an unexpected European election and an unexpected general election. I played an active part in two unforeseen by-elections and fell in love with both South Wales and with Shetland as a result of them. I didn’t expect to lose the federal leader of my party at all, let alone twice, but here we are again and I still feel desperately bruised by the experience of losing the second.
This was also a year that brought me a new found appreciation for our magnificent NHS. A cut I didn’t clean properly led to an infection which resulted in emergency, hand-saving surgery. We were in an operating theatre again when my beautiful five-year-old daughter had to have a E50 cent piece removed from her throat after she had swallowed it and I had to resuscitate her. If ever there was a moment to be reminded of what matters in life and to be thankful for what you’ve got, then that was it.
So my batting average when it comes to soothsaying isn’t great, but I’m willing to give it another go. In 2020 I predict the following:
l There will not be a second independence referendum this year. Nicola Sturgeon doesn’t really want one now, Boris will say no anyway and there probably isn’t time to organise one. It will nevertheless, dominate everything.
l Nicola Sturgeon will not see out the year as leader of the SNP.
l Jackson Carlaw will be elected permanent Scottish Conservatives leader.
l The next leader of the UK Liberal Democrats will not have held any role in the coalition government of 2010-2015.
l Donald Trump will be impeached and found guilty in the House of Representatives but will not be found guilty by the Senate. His position will be strengthened by the experience.
l Joe Biden will become the Democrat nominee for the 2020 presidential race. He will win the popular vote in November but will lose the election based on the electoral college votes of northern swing states.
l Enough of a trade deal will be concluded by Christmas to avert the UK leaving the EU with no deal after the transition period.
Like last year these predictions may all turn out to be for the birds. The only things I can predict with any kind of certainty are the things I have some control over. Like the fact that I plan to sit down with my family to eat every day and will leave my phone in another room while doing so. I plan to drink less and exercise more; spend more time in real life and less on social media; reconnect with old friends and tune out those people who make me angry. But then these are plans and not predictions – without effort they become nothing more than a punchline to please the guy upstairs.
Alex Cole-Hamilton is the Lib Dem MSP for Edinburgh Western.