Posts Tagged ‘predictions’

John Woodcock’s sober predictions for 2011

20/12/2010, 07:00:02 AM

by John Woodcock

For those who wish to ensure that festive cheer does not cloud their senses, here are some fairly sober predictions for 2011:

1. Labour councillors and activists will pull out all the stops for the May elections and make significant gains. So far – so optimistic. But this success will make some think we are already at the “one last heave” stage. When in fact we will only be making our way out of base camp. As the cuts begin to bite, it will be tempting to mistake the uncertainty felt towards the Tories for people renewing their bond with Labour. Such a misinterpretation is likely to be our biggest barrier to having the conviction to make the difficult decisions needed to win back the public’s trust.

2. Ed Miliband will not be among those falling into that trap. In one crucial respect, he will continue to think about the cuts programme in the same way as does the Tory leadership. While the public’s perception of what is happening now is hugely important, both David Cameron and our leader understand that cuts will have been implemented at the time of the next election. So the main debate, as the country goes to the polls, will be where we go from 2015. Not whether there might have been a better way of getting from 2010 to 2015. (more…)

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Bold predictions in the internet age, by Siôn Simon

21/09/2010, 01:49:35 PM

Dan Hodges announced this morning that David Miliband has won the Labour leadership. Which is not literally true; it is a bold prediction, presented in the form of what Frank Johnson used to call a conceit.

My father – perhaps anticipating a theme – used to warn me that “there is a thin line between brave and stupid”. Dan Hodges is not stupid. Far from it. This is a brave piece.

Frank Johnson, when teaching me how to write newspaper columns, used to enjoin: “Make bold predictions. If you are wrong, nobody will remember. But if you are right you can always remind them.”

I passed this reassurance on to Dan Hodges yesterday.

James Macintyre employs the technique in the New Statesman today. I take the opportunity to do it myself here: on 2 August, before the bookies’ odds had narrowed, I said in Uncut that Ed Miliband was an evens bet:

“Ed Miliband, like his brother, has succeeded in converting his patronage-momentum into real political capital which should have made him an evens bet to be the next leader. It hasn’t – the bookies put David well in front – but Ed is the better value brother, because evens is the political reality.”

I still think this is accurate. It’s close. Lots of people have written how close it is. Not many, especially of those who are paid to call these kind of things, have been brave enough to make the call.

Frank Johnson was the great newspaper prose stylist of his generation and an underestimated editor of the Spectator. He was a deep mine of wise and idiosyncratic advice about writing. “Be counter-intuitive” was at the centre. The word “albeit” and the phrase “the fact that” were banned at the periphery. As they are on Uncut.

And he was right, in his time, about making predictions. But he is wrong in the age, which he largely pre-dated, of the internet.

Rather than test the benevolence of the blogosphere, in which case, I also offer this prediction of mine, written at the 2007 Labour conference.

It turned out to be wrong. As I have often been reminded.

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