I suppose I am a little tardy rolling out my predictions a fortnight into the new year, but I really did want to chew them over first. Last thing I need is to have you all on my back come December going ner-ner-ner-ner-ner! at me for getting it all wrong.
So here are my predictions for 2007, carefully considered and guaranteed to come true or your money back.* Get down to the bookies now!
Mystic JC gazes into his crystal ball and sees:
- The NI elections will see a bump in the SDLP vote, but not enough to overhaul Sinn Fein. Both parties will hail their performances as a success. The UUP will similarly close on the DUP and both parties again will claim public support for their strategies. Ian Paisley will then find further nit-picking reasons not to enter power-sharing, and the whole process will end up on ice again, and Northern Irish citizens will still be denied democracy.
- More American troops will enter Iraq, which will deteriorate further, if that is indeed possible. The US government will blame Iranian influences within Iraq for the upsurge in violence and, with the support of Tony Blair, though without British troops, will attempt to overthrow the Ahmedinejad regime.
- The destruction of Afghanistan will continue apace, in media silence and to no particular outcry from the Western world. Al-Qaeda will retain a presence there, and British and American troops will start to leave in order to free up manpower for Iraq, and later, Iran. Opium will flow out of the place, children will starve, women will be suppressed and many people will die needlessly.
- Fianna Fail will be returned to power in a bad-tempered election marked by the emergence of negative campaigning for the first time in Ireland. Expect particular trouble in the Dublin Central constituency, where Bertie the cheque signer faces off against the fashion wing of the Republican movement, Mary-Lou.
- However, the PDs will not be returned to power, leaving McDowell in control of himself only in the Dail, as Mary Harney, Mae Sexton and the rest all bow out ungraciously. The PDs will be behind Joe Higgins' Socialists in parliament after they secure a second seat.
- The Shinners will boost their number of TDs, but not so much as to create a hung Dail. Bertie will make up the numbers of his government with randomers like Jackie Healy-Rae as he did previously.
- Enda Kenny will face a leadership challenge, as will Pat Rabbitte. Enda may survive his, but Pat will not. Expect to see Brendan Howlin in charge of Labour by year's end.
- Tony Blair will finally get thrown out of Number Ten, to be replaced by Gordon Brown after a late party leadership challenge from John Reid and some other numpties. 'New' Labour will continue to ignore the needs of the British working class despite the figurehead change, and will continue to leak support to the Tories. The BNP, Respect and Scots and Welsh nationalist votes will all inexorably rise.
- The Basque peace process will collapse, leading to further sporadic bombings and violence. Shinners will wring their hands about it and talk about the need for dialogue.
- Conflicts will flare across Africa, in Sudan, Somalia, and along the Western coast. But that happens every year, so that's not really much of a prediction, I admit.
- Manchester United will win the Premiership, leading to the 'mutually agreed' departure of Jose Mourinho from Chelsea. In a fit of pique, he will take Frank Lampard with him to Real Madrid. Whoever wins the Barcelona-Liverpool tie will win the Champions' League.
- There will be a major spike in oil prices again.
*Guarantee dependent on acts of God, and of people who think they're God, like Georgie Bush, Tony Blair, Jose Mourinho, etc.