By Devin Scobie, Public Affairs Director
Thirty years ago next summer I was a proud History graduate from Edinburgh University and I recall debating what was the most memorable year from times past. 1066? 1314? 1789? Well, as this year draws to a close, and, incidentally, family history is repeating itself as my younger son has started out on a History degree, I reckon 2016 will be a contender for students of the future.
I’ve been a political anorak for all of those 30 years and more. I’ve seen election surprises come and go – John Major’s shock ‘survival’ in 1992, Gordon Brown’s non-election of 2009, a majority SNP government at Holyrood in 2011 and more by-elections of the century than there have been years in the century. From Hillhead in 1982 to Richmond last week, every one has been the death knell for the losing side. At least until the next general election where invariably the ‘host’ party retakes the seat.
But so to 2016. This time last year I was writing about the coming Holyrood elections being the political high spot, with half an eye on Hillary Clinton scoring a comfortable Democrat victory over a moderate Republican like Rubio or Carson. The Brexit referendum would have come and gone with a 55-60% ‘in’ vote – and have been forgotten about as swiftly as the 2011 AV referendum (anyone remember that one?).
Instead David Cameron has been well and truly (Br)exited, Theresa May’s kitten heels whisked her into Number 10, and The Donald well and truly Trumped Hillary – and the great US of A – to win the keys of the White House.
So, given all the surprises of 2016, dare we predict what 2017 has in store? Well, Donald Trump will be the 45th US President come 20th January and although he will continue to fine new and creative ways to wind up the vast majority of the planet with marginally more moderate views, I have a hunch he will have just enough sane voices around him to temper some of his more extreme ideas. But he will be the leader of the free world, and I’m afraid Theresa and all the other sceptical world leaders will just need to get in to say, ‘yes Mr President’
We should see Angela Merkel safely re-elected in Germany, and Francois Hollande will have more time for his memoirs after losing in April. Marine Le Pen will run M. Fillon close but I suspect the wily ex French premier will be the one celebrating.
Closer to home, we have all-out council elections in Scotland. Expect the Scottish Conservatives to make significant progress and modest gains for the Lib Dems and SNP – all at the expense of Labour, who continue their downward spiral. The SNP should finally gain control of the City of Glasgow and could make a clean sweep as the largest party in all four of our largest cities.
But politics is never dull, and I’m sure there will be just as may surprises as there are safe bets. So, on behalf of all the Perceptive team, let me wish you and yours, a very Merry Christmas – and a peaceful 2017!