It's Yule-tide donchaknow, and it's time to make predictions for 2010. Here's mine -
1) In February Malcolm Chisholm MSP will join the SNP and will be warmly welcomed. Kezia Dugdale will be persuaded to contest the nomination for Labour candidate for 2011 but her conscience will get to her before the selection is completed and she'll be torn between continuing there or coming to join the SNP. I'll just link here to make it easier for her. I'm not sure about George Foulkes' prospects, though, I don't know whether our policy of "nae lords in this party" applies to those who are already lording it when they join or not.
2) When the election comes the SNP will win 28 seats. One of the most interesting victories will be in the constituency formerly known as Eastwood and now known as East Renfrewshire where the subtle and understated campaigning techniques of the quiet man, Gordon Archer, will remove the Labour incumbent. Jim Murphy will then cast his beady eye upon the halcyon politics of Holyrood and Ken Macintosh will get the bum's rush as wee Jim looks for a way in. What a battle that 2011 seat will be!
3) The Referendum Bill will be published; there won't be much movement until the Stage 1 debate appears on the horizon and a few members of each of the other parties will support it as their old democratic tendencies give them a kick in the bahookie. It'll pass on to Stage 2 where there will, finally, be careful and considered debate on Scotland's constitutional future and the right of people to determine it for themselves. This is when a consensus will emerge and the Bill will pass with overwhelming support at Stage 3 and members of all parties will campaign for a YES vote in the referendum - Bill Aitken will work particularly hard in Glasgow hand in hand with Yapping Yousuf; Jim Millar will pound the streets of Arbroath; Linlithgow's streets will echo to the tread of Stephen Glenn; Caron Lindsay will be putting in a West Lothian shift as well; John Lamont will fight for every YES vote down in the wild borderlands; Helen Eadie will leadie the campaign in Fife (except Central Fife which, of course, will be marshaled by Tricia Marwick); Wendy Alexander will bring it on for a renaissance in Paisley; Jamie Stone will be selling cheesy lines across the Highlands in support of independence; and lots of others will join the campaign.
4) With Labour losing seats all across Scotland and being left with no seats north of the Tay; none in Edinburgh; East Lothian lost to the SNP as well as the two seats that set into West Lothian and Falkirk; and seats taken by the SNP across central Scotland and the west of Scotland, Labour in Scotland will look at Iain Gray and say "you're not the man for this job, you're on course to lose your own seat in 2011" and the cry will go up "Jack, Jack lad, you know we never meant it, come back to us, Jack, come back and lead us once again". With his diplomatic job now vanished, Jack will swagger back in and say "are you joking?" Eyes will turn to the street-fighter wing and Charlie Gordon's rehabilitation will be complete - Charlie Gordon to be leader of the Labour party in Scotland by the end of 2010, mark my words!
5) The independence negotiations will be complete by this time next year and Hogmanay next year will be marked with a double celebration - a new year and a newly rejuvenated country.
Mind how you go!