2014 is drawing to close, so it's time for our annual end of year podcast — looking back on an exhilarating year both in Britain and abroad. James Forsyth reflects on the Scottish referendum and why it’s been a bad year for Westminster. Isabel Hardman discusses how Ukip have continually confounded expectations in 2014 and the challenges they face in the next few months.
Matthew Parris has written off the Liberal Democrats but believes we need to watch out for the SNP next year. Douglas Murray remains concerned about Russia and the Islamic State, while I discuss what has been happening across the pond as the 2016 presidential race earnestly begins in Washington.
Fraser Nelson thinks the collapse of the Swedish government is an example of the 'ugly baby contest' we can expect to see in Britain next year, while James Delingpole explains grassroots Ukippers are disconcertingly anti-intellectual , incapable of engaging on policy — but he still has high hopes for the party in 2015.
And it wouldn't be an end of year roundup without some predictions. With next year's general election being one of the most difficult to forecast in decades, we instead asked our writers for their hunches on what they presently feel might happen:
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The View from 22 podcast
“‘I think that David Cameron will make it past the post…into Downing Street, no majority. To me ultimately, the most important thing is who is going to be Prime Minister. If it’s Miliband, it’ll be a calamity for this country, but I think the Scottish campaign persuaded me that the more Miliband campaigns, the less popular he’ll become. And I don’t think the Labour party can hide Miliband very well during the campaign. I think there’s a lot of ruin left in that party and I think next year will prove it.’
“‘I’ll follow my heart, not my head: I just can’t imagine Labour winning the next election and I do think the case the Conservative Party have to put is so strong that my hunch is the Conservative Party are going to win an absolute overall majority — although I know there is no polling at all that really backs up that hunch.’
“‘My instinct is that I don’t think either main parties will get a majority but I think the combination of Cameron and economic confidence will probably help the Tories to have more votes and more seats than any other party…but the mathematics of a coalition might be very difficult or even a confidence and a supply arrangement.’
“‘My hunch and my fear is that the Conservatives will score some kind of continuation Cameron and that depresses me enormously because although I don’t fancy Miliband, there is not a word to describe how I’d feel if Cameron were rewarded for what I would consider his betrayal of Conservative values.’
“‘My hunch is that voters will panic a little bit about Ed Miliband, they won’t quite be able to see him as Prime Minister, and that will mean that Labour falls behind and that the Conservatives end up being the largest party — but may possibly struggle to form a stable coalition with the other smaller party because everyone’s share of the vote will have fallen…I wouldn’t be surprised if there was another election quite soon afterwards.’
“‘My hunch is small Tory majority, simply because I find it inconceivable that this country would elect a clown like Ed Miliband as Prime Minister.’
“‘It’s going to be hung, it’s going to be a coalition of some kind and it may well be a surprising coalition. I wouldn’t rule anything out — the Conservatives going in with the DUP and the rump of something else, Labour trying to add it all together with some Greens. Anything is possible in this election…it’s going to be a hideous but genuinely fascinating campaign’