Nicola Sturgeon, Boris Johnson and Kim Jong Un out, no Indyref2 and a Brexit disaster: My predictions for 2021 – Alex Cole-Hamilton MSP

Every Christmas, around this time, I chance my arm with some predictions about the year ahead. They are always bold, unambiguous and, more often than not, wildly inaccurate.

Will Nicola Sturgeon end up being replaced as SNP leader by former depute leader and Evening News columnist Angus Robertson? (Picture: Andy Buchanan/pool/Getty Images)
Will Nicola Sturgeon end up being replaced as SNP leader by former depute leader and Evening News columnist Angus Robertson? (Picture: Andy Buchanan/pool/Getty Images)

Last year’s predictions were not as disastrous as years previous: Joe Biden won the Democratic nomination as I foretold he would (but he also went on to win the election, which I didn’t see coming); there was a Brexit deal at the 11th hour and there wasn’t an independence referendum, but Kim Jong Un still officially leads North Korea and Nicola Sturgeon still leads Scotland.

So, my predictions enjoyed something like a 50 per cent rate of accuracy this time. If, that is, you lay aside the fact that I failed to predict an actual global pandemic, that would up-end humanity and change absolutely everything about how we live our lives.

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In fairness, I made my predictions last year on the very day that doctors in Wuhan, China reported something they described as “animal pneumonia” to the World Health Organisation, so I doubt that any would-be-soothsayer clocked that coming last Hogmanay.

God loves a trier (that’s also the unofficial motto of the Liberal Democrats), so here I go for 2021:

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1: The Scottish Parliament election will be delayed until the autumn: Sluggish vaccine roll-out and the emergence of more virulent strains of Covid-19 will make campaigning (and, as such, a fair election) very difficult.

2: Boris Johnson will not be Prime Minister by the end of the year; he will be replaced by Michael Gove.

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3: There will be no independence referendum in 2021. Pro-independence parties combined will fall short of 50 per cent of the popular vote in the Scottish Parliamentary elections as people turn away from the idea of yet more chaos and division. This will offer the UK government legitimate grounds for refusing permission for another border poll. They will also cite the need for focus on Covid recovery.

4: Kim Jong Un will be replaced as leader of North Korea by his sister, Kim Yo-Jong. I make this prediction every Hogmanay and it nearly happened this year, so I’m sticking with it. (A stopped clock is right twice a day.)

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5: Alex Salmond’s evidence to the Salmond Inquiry in late January will be the most watched Scottish Parliament proceedings in its history.

6: Nicola Sturgeon will not be First Minister by the end of the year, she will be replaced as SNP leader by Angus Robertson.

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7: Brexit will be a disaster, but no one will notice. Lost jobs, food scarcities and price rises will all be explained away as an outcome of the economic impact of the pandemic.

8: The Olympic games will be postponed to 2022, due to insufficient vaccine roll-out across the world by the summer.

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I’ve left out any predictions about my own future, I’m up for re-election this year and I have superstition enough not to go anywhere near that. Whatever happens, for me or for all of us, it feels like that old Chinese curse to “live in interesting times” has not yet run its course. But I hope we’re headed for calmer waters. Everyone is desperate for respite, for life to return to normal and for some peace. Happy New Year.

Alex Cole-Hamilton is Liberal Democrat MSP for Edinburgh Western

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