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With Christmas over (hope you had a nice one), it’s now time to look forward to the New year.

Here are 5 themes I believe will dominate the political world in the coming 12 months.

1. D-Day for UKIP.


The 2015 general election could be the most tightly contested vote in our history. At the time of writing, no pundit or paper has mustered the confidence to predict a clear result. Both the Labour and Tory parties are roundly despised, if for slightly different reasons. The Lib Dems have all but collapsed and will be lucky to survive the year as a party of national influence. The beneficiary of all this anti-political feeling is undoubtedly Nigel Farage’s United Kingdom Independence Party.

The question of whether UKIP are a party of protest or a serious contender for government will be decided in 2015. If the party wins fewer than 10 seats, the answer will be the former. If they go on to clinch more than 30, we will have a whole new political landscape and the 2019/20 elections will be left vulnerable to a real conservative insurgency.

I will vote for UKIP in 2015, if only because the other parties offer me nothing. Nevertheless, I won’t be crying into my gin if they fail to perform. This will only serve to free up territory for a more radical party in the future.

2. Stabilisation of the EU.


Although it may annoy those of us who dislike the EU, the Euro currency crisis is beginning to stabilise and may soon belong to the past tense. Unemployment in Spain, Greece, Portugal and Italy is still severe (and disgraceful), but rock bottom seems to have been reached and things can now only get better. If UKIP fail to make an electoral breakthrough, the Eurosceptic moment may pass and only concerns of immigration remain.

3. Russia’s Foreign Policy Revenge.


The sanctions against Russia are beginning to bite hard and deep. The rouble is freefalling, a process Putin seems unable to influence let alone contain. The country is heading for economic meltdown and (potentially) social chaos. Should this chaos get out of control, Putin will believe (rightly or wrongly) that the West is attempting to turn Russia into Syria; that is, create the conditions for an overthrow of his regime.

Alas for the West, Putin is unlikely to sit back and take this without retaliation.  How will he respond? Well, traditionally, he would just turn off the gas to Eastern Europe, but since the price of oil is so low, this probably won’t be enough. He could threaten London and Berlin with nuclear Armageddon, but this has never worked in the past, so why would it now?

No, the most obvious strategy of revenge open to the Kremlin will be in foreign policy. Iran – for example – might strike new deals with Moscow for weaponry and nuclear expertise. The Palestinian cause may be advanced with Russian support at the UN. China’s military might achieve new technological breakthroughs in apparently mysterious ways. In the more extreme scenarios, assassinations of runaway oligarchs and Putin critics may hit the headlines in Paris, London and New York.

4. The Evolution of ISIS.


Despite the well-publicised nightmare of terrorism, sexual enslavement and mass murder going on in Mesopotamia and Kurdistan, the West seems unable or unwilling to properly engage the ISIS/IS pseudo-state with the force necessary to make a difference.

Though there have now been literally hundreds of Arab and US airstrikes, ISIS remains close to taking Kobane, the besieged Kurdish town on the Syrian-Turkish border. Given the weaponry and finance at our command, this is disgraceful.

Our impotence has inevitably become a recruiting sergeant for ISIS leaders. Their propaganda depicts (with unfortunate accuracy) a Western coalition running scared of Islamic militancy. This humiliating state of affairs has attracted (and will continue to attract) thousands of young Arabs, Turks and Pakistanis to the IS battlefield. Combined with the massive funds at the group’s disposal and the hi-tech weaponry accrued from Syrian and Iraqi soldiers, this injection of manpower will create a force of terrifying power. It never needed to develop like this. We could have strangled ISIS at birth. Alas, Obama….

5. Wishful Thinking: The Rise of Palin.


Finally, there is something I hope will happen in 2015, but which probably won’t; the presidential candidacy of former Alaska governor Sarah Palin.

A figure of much ridicule, Palin remains the most reliably patriotic figure in American politics. Her lack of eloquence (though real) is more than made up for by her willingness to confront enemies at home and abroad.