British political parties look more different at the start of 2016 than anybody could have predicted in 2015. There’s been two major leader changes and an unexpected landslide victory for the Conservatives. 2016 promises to be almost as chaotic and just as captivating.
The Conservatives face inward battles over the EU Referendum. However, Cameron has recently allowed ministers a free vote on the referendum which will quiet the strong Eurosceptic Conservative backbench for now And with their recent landslide victory, the party is unlikely to face too many splits. The main point of antagonism for most in the Conservatives will be the future leadership election. Cameron will start making plans to bow out after the referendum, seeing it as his swan song of political prowess, and then the battle between George Osbourne and Boris Johnson truly unfolds. With the Mayoral elections in sight, Boris will likely gain a place in Cameron’s cabinet and then both men will try to rally support from their parliamentary bedfellows.
This year will likely see the position of Labour diverge further leftwards before snapping back to a New Labour center-left position. Depending on the local elections in May, Corbyn’s Christ-like entrance into leadership could soon unfold into political crucifixion. Corbyn’s inexperience, seen in his blunder-ridden excuse of a reshuffle, will probably be further revealed by his handling of a vote on Trident this year. Corbyn has already demoted pro-Trident front-bencher Maria Eagle and his position on nuclear weapons continues to anger unions and MPs alike. The increasing barrage of propaganda from the right-wing press against Corbyn’s leadership will be fueled by increased dissent within Labour. Expect splits, shit-storms and coups.
The Liberal Democrats may regain some political ground this year. With a fractured Labour party, the Lib Dems present a unified British opposition to leaving the EU. If the referendum goes in their favor and if Osbourne or Johnson prove too bitter a taste for certain Conservative supporters, then the party’s fortunes could have reversed after their crippling electoral defeat last May.
The SNP won’t take center-stage this year. They will trace a predictable opposition to most of the government’s policies whilst also presenting a case for another Scottish referendum. They will support EU membership heftily.
UKIP have a lot to live up to with the looming EU referendum. In opposition to the Lib Dems, they present a unified advocacy for leaving the EU but they equally have more to lose if the referendum supports an ongoing EU membership. Even Farage’s position as leader remains uncertain as dissent is creeping through the party.
The Green Party has many opportunities for success this year. The Trident vote could be capitalized as a Green issue very easily and they have much to gain from any Labour loss which spells Corbyn’s slow fall from grace. Disappointed Corbynites who suffer from splits may well channel into the Greens, hoping to recreate their left-wing utopia.