By Committee Members
As we kick-start the last full year before the 2015 general election several City Future committee members have outlined their top-line predictions.
Overall there is an upbeat mood with the good economic news expected to continue in 2014. Both Ali Azeem and James Symes pointed to the improving economy as a cause for continued improvement in the Conservative’s political standing as Labour’s economic critique loses credibility.
The cost of living will remain a theme for as long as wages fail to keep pace with inflation, especially since Labour know that this is by far their strongest line on the economy – now that it’s improving so markedly. Adam Honeysett-Watts notes that the majority of economists believe that wages will overtake inflation this year.
This brings us on to another theme which is likely to be talked about a lot this year, and that is immigration. UKIP, like many others, will analyse the effect the expansion of the EU’s freedom of movement to Romania and Bulgaria will have on numbers coming to the UK – in the run up to the European elections. Whether the influx of workers from Eastern Europe depresses wages, or lowers costs is an issue which will certainly be debated at great length. It will also determine to an extent whether Labour is able to get traction from its key phrase. The betting money is probably on the effects being too close to call before 2014 is over however.
Europe and specifically UKIP’s will feature heavily. Sean Garman believes that UKIP will be victorious in the European elections giving them yet another boost into the currents of main stream politics. The by-elections due in 2014 will certainly provide UKIP another theatre in which to beat the drum, the media reaction to which will determine in large part the long term result. Will the story be the inextricable rise of UKIP, or will it be look at these fruitcakes hitting journalists over the head? Either way by the end of 2014 we will probably know whether UKIP will be a fighting force in the next election, triggering a new phase in British politics, or whether it is the new Liberal Democrats, the by-election protest party of choice. The Committee is split as to what is likely to happen, and it really could go either way. so 2014 may turn into a very pivotal year for the right in Britain.
The Lib Dems are also thought likely to put in a stronger performance than the polls suggest, even though it will be a generally bad year for them. It shouldn’t be forgotten that whatever is going on in Westminster, these are local elections and the Lib Dems have always thrived as local campaigners. Or as one Tory MP put it to Andrew White recently ‘Lib Dems are like knotweed; once you get some you never really get rid of them’.
The Scottish independence referendum will be lost and they will remain part of the UK but it will be a lot closer than people think at the moment. There is a lot of scope here to have what happened with the AV referendum where a huge majority is overturned in a short space of time. The pro-independence Scottish do not have an ally in the form of Nick Clegg fighting for the other side however.
Ultimately 2014 is going to be a pivotal year. It will decide the ground on which the next election if fought and that election will determine how the financial crisis and subsequent hard recovery is remembered in the public imagination. The history of the last 10 years and the next five will be written by the victors of the next election who have the chance to ride the economic legacy of the coalition government. Who it is that owns that legacy will start to be decided in the next 12 months.
So get your campaigning shoes on.