Monday, August 30, 2010

What should the GOP strategy for the Senate be?

News of a poll - twittered by Tim Montgomery of ConservativeHome fame - which gave the Republicans a 10 point national lead over the Democrats has got me thinking. The 51-41 result would almost certainly wipe out the Presidents party majority in the House, but how close are they to losing the Senate as well? A bit of number crunching has helped.

This is a bumper year of contests including a couple of Special Elections to fill vacancies left both those who resigned to serve in the Obama administration. However the numbers in the Senate without these contest shows the ease by which the Democrats should hold firm; without a vote being cast there are:

Democrats 41
Republicans 21

These elections are from the class of '04, who saw their elections clash with that of President George W Bush. Hence most of the seats up for election are, in fact, Republican held.

Added to these numbers there are 11 very safe Republican states or candidates up for election - either in their solid Southern heartland (Alabama, Georgia Kansas), the Mid-West (Idaho, Iowa, Missouri, Utah) or where the candidate means they will win (Arizona, New Hampshire - plus North Dakota and Ohio). That puts the numbers at democrats 41, Republicans 32.

Let's assume that the Democrats themselves do not make progress - but there are States where the Republicans cannot take victory for granted. In Alaska, Florida, Kentucky, North Carolina & South Dakota their winning majority was less than 5% of the vote. In Oklahoma & South Carolina it was less than 10%. Assuming these States stay red, then the Senate is Democrat 41, Republican 39. Getting closer.

Now the fun states. Scott Brown, Special election winner from Massachusetts is up for re-election. He overturned the late, great Ted Kennedy's 39% margin to win that seat last year. The smart money is on him holiday on. We also have Louisiana where the Republican margin was greatly inflated by having 2 Democratic candidates on the ballot paper. This time with just one the GOP margin falls to just 8%, although you'd still put the mortgage on them holding on. Senate now Democrat 41, Republican 41.

Onto Pennsylvania - the seat of defector Arlen Spectre who quit the Republicans to join the Democrats. His margin of victory was 11% as a republican. He lost the Democratic primary and his replacement looks unlikely to repeat his success. In fact this State is likely to join the "safe R" column. That leaves us as Republican 42, Democrat 41 - without a single toss-up contest being decided.

We've had the safe Republican berths, so what about the Dems? Well, you'd be surprised if any of the following seats were in play (number refers to D winning margin) - Connecticut (34%) , Delaware (29), Hawaii (55), Illinois (42), Maryland (31), New York (2 seats - 47 and 36), Vermont (46). That's 8 seats, without breaking sweat. Senate now Democrat 49, Republican 42.

So the Democrats need just one of the following swing States for half and two for a majority. Four States and they wouldn't have to rely on the votes of Independent members.

Some States are surely lost - it's hard to see the Dems holding on in Colorado (5%) or even Arkansas (11), Washington (12) or Wisconsin (11). That would be Democrat 49, Republican 46.

What's left? the winning margin in West Virginia was 31%, in Oreagon 32%, Nevada 26% and Indiana 24%. All of those should be in play given the latest polls. And that leaves California - which despite a relatively low 20% margin is so solidly Democratic it couldn't be any other way ... could it?

So the chances of the Reps taking the Senate are very very low but only because of the electoral cycle they face. But the result could be squeaky bum time for the Pres and still leave him hanging by the votes of a few independent members.

UPDATE: Rasmussen, the respected US pollster also has the figures of D49, R46 with 5 toss-ups (I didn't look - honest) but disagrees about which states. West Virgina it thinks is OK for the Dems despite the Reps whittling the poll lead down to just 6%. It also thinks Delaware is heading for a GOP victory. It's toss-up seats are Colorado, Illinois, California, Nevada and Wisconsin. For what its worth if the Reps don't take Colorado they're in trouble - but if the Dems don't take California or Delaware the same is true!

Sunday, August 29, 2010

LibDem Negative Campaigning - New Low

The LibDems are very much predictable in the vicious and negative style of campaigning - the sort which led their former Leader Hereward Cooke, a decent man, to apologise to council for it (background here). Yet amazingly, despite poll after poll saying people don't like negative campaigning it seems to work. I wonder, however, if they can both be negative and mislead at the same time and still get away with it?

The following is taken from the latest "Simon Wright school of negative campaigning" - just a small section but from an A3 leaflet designed to knife Labour and suggest only the LibDems can beat them here (without a word about the Greens who actually do hold the ward).

Take a look ...
You would think from this that the LibDems has valiantly tried to stop the madness of Labour spending £1.5m of taxpayers cash on a "huge vain white-elephant of a project that was doomed to failure" (words taken from my first speech on the issue ...)

Yet, no. LibDem Councillors voted FOR this money to be spent and did so every time of asking.

Every time Labour wanted more cash to throw at this project, the LibDems said YES YES YES.

Check out the roll-call of those who voted for this money to be spent and you will soon find ...

"Councillors LUBBOCK, WATKINS ..."

and most embarrassingly ...

"... WRIGHT."

I wonder if Simon Wright knows his wife voted for this money to be spent? (For the record, the Conservative Group have voted against spending the money on every occasion we could have).

But wait - they have a chance to redeem themselves!! In 2008 and 2009 there were budget proposals on the table to reduce the unitary spend and use the money elsewhere. Surely if they were that concerned that would have voted FOR these measures?

Nope ... all LibDem Councillors, including Ros Wright, voted against Tory plans to scale back on unitary spending.

The the U-turn is sharp, the hypocrisy is breathtaking and no wonder people are losing faith in politics.

The LibDems vote, consistently, for unitary spending and then oppose it after the project fails.

This takes the LibDem negative campaigning to a new low - because it is designed to mislead.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Happy or Sad?

True story ...

A friend meets a LibDem deliverer ...

Friend: Thanks for calling round but it's too late, I've done my postal vote.

LibDem: Lovely, thank you, may I ask if you supported us?

Friend: No, sorry, I voted for Antony Little

LibDem: But Antony Little isn't a candidate here - he stood in the General Election.

Friend: Oh. I have no idea who I voted for then.

UPDATE: for clarification this wasn't in Bowthorpe and the LibDem was right - I wasn't on the ballot paper!!

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Guest Post: Why Peter is wrong (and right) about Wensum

I suggest that before you read this you scroll through the comments on previous posts to find Peter's views on campaigning in his home ward of Wensum. Before I tell you why he is wrong, firstly we'll dwell on why he is right.

In an ideal world, every party would stand candidates everywhere and each community would have a full flourishing campaign where every vote is fought over and every argument challenged. That would be a real democracy. But sadly life is not like that.

Firstly politics requires people. Doors do not knock on themselves, and leaflets do not fly through your letter box by magic. Even if a party posts you material, as the LibDems did heavily last time, they first have to raise the money to do it. Even the Royal Mail doesn't run on IOUs. Sadly in modern politics the number of people given to do these activities is falling, driven on by a number of factors (like all the parties looking the same and lack of time in working practices). So with limited finances and limited workforces the parties have to be rational about what they do and where. I imagine the Tory and LibDem membership in Wensum is quite low and Labour's is quite inactive. Only the Greens, as supported by Peter's evidence on the ground, have what it takes to get around. In fact, it could be that the Tory / Libdem / Labour candidates are "paper" ones, where they stand only to give a choice on the ballot paper rather than seriously expect to win. That could explain the lack of effort. Whenever somebody complains to me about lack of communication from party X, I always ask them if they have volunteered to be the street leafleter recently. Usually the answer is "no"; QED.

So, in this election would we expect parties to be focusing on Wensum? Well, yes and no ...

I happen to believe that Mr Altman, the Green candidate, is a weak candidate and very open to attack. His record as Mancroft's councillor was poor, as was his decision to walk away after only a year. Hardly the commitment the people of Wensum want. In addition, a lot of people my end of the ward wonder if the Greens just want the council allowances (wages!) rather than to do the job for the right reasons. Llewellyn to Altman is like from the firepan into the fire! If the other candidates had decent local people who really wanted the job out of a sense of public duty, they'd do well. However ...

The fact of the matter is that the Greens hold the ward with a big majority, with Labour in second. The Tories have improved in the last 3-4 years but have only just managed to leapfrog the poor old fourth placed LibDems (although no doubt only they can win here!!).

And do the parties need Wensum for where they are going? The Greens do because they need it in their column for the great council take-over. But I guarantee you neither Tory nor LibDems have in in the front, middle or even back of their minds. And that leaves Labour - with the party struggling to hold onto 6 (yes, six) marginal wards I doubt they have room for a seventh target no matter how tempting.

I am sorry Peter - Wensum is not going to be a great political fight this year; maybe next. You can expect a few leaflets, probably from Greens and Labour, and a knock from maybe the Greens. The rest you'll have to discover from the internet.

I know it's sad and not how elections ought to be, but until one of the other parties need Wensum or the results show they may be able to win it, don't expect that to change.

But have heart - the Tories are making a good show in Thorpe Hamlet, a seat that I know well and where most people thought they were out of the running. My partner has a leaflet and a letter from the party in a clear third place, so maybe there is hope for Wensum yet.

The author is a regular here and lives in Wensum Ward.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Norwich MP lets down democracy

Regular readers of this blog will know I'm an "on the fence" Conservative when it comes to the AV vote. But this really made me laugh.

Generally the only party to be in favour of AV are the LibDems (and even then they believe it to be a poor compromise). Their party has been engaged in a competition to find a great pro-AV poster (more here) and the above is one example of that work.

Pretty shocking eh? One MP won with as little as 29% of the vote ... who could be this betrayer of democracy?

Well, step forward ...

Norwich South
Simon Wright (LibDem) - 29%
Charles Clarke (Labour) - 29&
Antony Little (for it is he, Conservative) - 23%

I am aware that some people believe this result is the prime example of why we need AV, but there is a certain irony in the LibDems using their own MPs electoral records as a reason to change the system!

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Guest Post: Is a new Green dawn "unstoppable"?

I suppose this post came out of a brief chat with Antony during the week, in which he re-iterated the point that turnout at these elections was likely to be low and that would damage the Greens chances. I'll go on to why I think the Greens are un-stoppable in a moment, but first the turnout point.

I disagree - the canvassing that I have done does show an increased level of apathy, partly because of the time of year and also because you rarely meet anybody who wants these elections. However I would argue that we all share in the apathy - it doesn't just impact on the young, student, green-voters. I have met middle-aged Tories and working class Labour who just aren't going to vote. And think on this - this will be an election where the most motivated set of supporters win. And I would say that the Greens have amongst the most determined, motivated and political (with a big P) supporters in the City. It's why I think the Tories will edge it in Eaton and why the Greens will do better than you all think across the City. In fact (here I go) I think the Greens will take Thorpe Hamlet and University in Norwich South and also Sewell in Norwich North.

Even so, we come to the wider point of the arithmetic. The Greens are essentially a single seat short of becoming the largest party; they have 9 seats and you need to add in holds in Town Close, Nelson, Wensum and Mancroft. Labour have 9 but I wouldn't bet on any of them being an automatic hold at this point (although clearly Mile Cross will end up in the Labour column come election night). Even if Labour do stage a massive recovery, the Green gain in Thorpe Hamlet will leave the parties 15-14; all it would take is a Tory gain in Catton Grove or Crome to put them as equals at 14-14. Can Morphew hold on then? I wouldn't bet on it. You see the Greens are unstoppable; because the other parties will do our work for us. A Tory gain here or a LibDem gain there (Lakenham?) and they've slipped behind. The Greens can take control without taking a single Labour seat.

For what it's worth, I think the result will be:
Green 16 (gains Thorpe Hamlet, University & Sewell)
Labour 10 (holds Mile Cross)
Tories 8 (holds Bowthorpe, gains Eaton, Catton & Crome)
LibDems 5 (loses Thorpe Hamlet & Eaton but gains Lakenham)

And in those circumstance not even a Condem coalition can stop Claire Stephenson being Leader of the Council.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

LibDem Bar Chart Comeback - but it's still inacurrate - Shock.

Judging from my email inbox there is more hubbub about the LibDems using the whole Norwich South result to prove "it's a two horse race" between them and Labour and no point in voting Conservative or Green - sadly, though, they used this argument in places like Eaton (where the Tories and LibDems are around 200 votes apart with Labour fourth) and Town Close (where the Greens have a 20% lead over the LibDems with Labour in fourth).

After all we hear about "new politics" and "I understand why politicians are not trusted", surely this kind of campaigning is partly to blame? Luckily (for us) confused electors don't believe the party that mis-lead them.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Guest Post: What happened to LibDem localism?

One of the issues which really stood out for me amongst the "Statement of Persons Nominated" in how few of the candidates live in the areas they seek to represent. Back in the days, the LibDem campaigning rule-book clearly stated that you stood a much, much better chance of winning with a local candidate and that you should always select a local above anybody else. In fact, when you have done that and the other parties have not simply hammer them the whole way through the parachuting in an unpopular outsider!!

Antony's note: True, and in the Tories we used to say that you were only as local as your LibDem candidate. If the LibDem didn't live in the ward, it didn't matter - but if the Tory didn't then it was a high crime!

So going down the list it is interesting to see who lives where.

In Catton Grove the LibDem lives in Mile Cross. in Crome they live in Nelson. In Bowthorpe the LibDem is from Eaton, but in Eaton he's from Nelson. The Lakenham LibDem is from Mancroft. The Nelson candidate is from Unviersity whilst the Thorpe Hamlet guy is from Sewell. Town Close LibDems have a candidate from Wensum and in Wensum he's from Mancroft

But Bingo - we have genuine locals in Mile Cross (I rate Carl Mayhew and whilst I don't think he'll win this time, I think it will be a good match for May 2011). Mancroft LibDems also have a local - Simon Nobbs.

University have a local candidate (just - he lives on the borderline with Nelson!) as too do Sewell LibDems.

2 locals out of 13? 4 at a push? Come on, what are the Norwich LibDems playing at? Especially given that their target seats - Eaton, Town Close, Thorpe Hamlet and Lakenham are all missing out on locals. Are the LibDems really stuck for candidates like this?

Is it better to live in a set geographical area or to work hard at campaigning? I wonder if people care where the candidates come from anymore? Have the LibDems missed a trick with this?

Antony's Update: I know this guest post focuses on the LibDems so out of fairness I have evaluated the Tory local candidate count. We have 6 candidates who live in their wards and 2 more with existing elected links.

AV referendum to cost £100m

Either that figure is wrong (but as it came from Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg - I doubt it !!!) or I am voting NO just to spite whoever decided to run such an expensive waste of time just as the rest of country is bracing itself for cuts. Honestly - I know I'm a Conservative but is this really the best that the "new politics" can do?

Pearson quits as UKIP Leader

Recovering from the earthquake news that Lord Pearson has quit as UKIP Leader, I found myself wondering if anybody could name any UKIP Leader other than Nigel Farage? Some bloggers are getting very excited today about a Farage comeback, others claiming huge names like David Campbell-Bannerman (against whom I once debated) will stand. Either way I can't see this contest setting the political (or real) world on fire. Let them get on with it in peace.

Oh, and for your interest the previous leaders were:

1993-1997 Alan Sked (who then quit the party claiming it was on the political fringe)

1997-1999 Michael Holmes (who was forced to quit after claims he was too pro-European - he went on to quit the party in 2000)

1999-2002 Jeffrey Titford (probably the only person to come out of this well)

2002-2006 Roger Knapman (who was found to be employing Polish immigrants and spent much of his leadership being undermined by Robert Kilroy-Silk)

2006-2009 Nigel Farage (who ended up challenging the Speaker and begin humiliated in the 2010 General Election but just survived death after being involved in a plane crash)

Thanks for the cheque, Mr Blair

I have been a little frustrated today by the response to the news that former Prime Minister Tony Blair is to donate all of the money from his autobiography to the Royal British Legion. Even he admits it is to support the amazing work done by those who serve in our armed forces. And so the media ask - an act of amazing generosity or a plea for forgiveness?

In my view those who oppose and opposed the war will never forgive Blair. If this is his way of making up for what he did, it won't work. And why would a man which such political skill as Blair think it would? I know we live in cynical times but ...

So it leaves me to conclude that, just for once, I want to give Tony Blair the benefit of the doubt. That he wishes to do some good with his auto-biog and for it not to be seen as a way of cashing in on his political career. Just think fo what that money could do for the RBL and all of our service people that it works with.

I haven't lost a loved-one in conflict so I cannot imagine how they feel. But would they really want the RBL to go without what could be a £4m+ donation?

I know it's hard but can't we just thank Mr Blair, cash the cheque, and get to work providing for those people who have made sacrifices for our country?

Monday, August 16, 2010

Guest Post: Is there life after UEA?

The biggest interest in this election, for election nerds like us, is not if the Greens can take control or even if a bizarre ConDem pact can seize control of City Hall - but just what will the City election results be without the UEA student voting?

Don't for a moment believe this is limited to just University Ward itself - these days students impact greatly in Bowthorpe, Nelson, Town Close, Wensum and to a lesser extent in Sewell, Thorpe Hamlet and Eaton too. I know that turnout isn't great (where is at local election time) but when the student vote is so Green-Lib leaning, could their absence leave the Tories smiling and Labour frustrated?

You see, UEA automatically registers all first year student on campus - but now they've gone. So the politically motivated learners have to get postal votes or tramp back to their common rooms to vote at a time when the university isn't even open for the new term. Similarly those who have moved off site seem unlikely to have registered yet. Third years who were registered may have buggered off, never to return (let alone to vote). Basically there is a UEA student shaped hole in canvass sheets across the City.

So what of the impact then? Well, it should make Bowthorpe safe for the Tories (a cheer from OGH there?) and also University safe for Labour, where Bert Bremner's opposition tends to come from campus. It will dent the Green majorities in Wensum and Nelson but not so far as the wards could be lost (although the Green candidate in Wensum - who served one year as Mancroft Councillor then quit doesn't inspire confidence). The most interested impact may be in Town Close, where the Greens had 42% to the LibDems 24% and Tory 20% last time. Without the student vote in the Golden Triangle, that may just be closer than it seems.

So, as I said, a game for political nerds that we leave us pouring over the exact stats on 10th September, but for what its worth I don't think the lack of student votes will actually tip any wards whatsoever. It'll make some safer, some less so but I don't see any of the big student area seats changing hands ... yet.

The author is a volunteer who responded to my previous request for articles. He is not a member of any political party (at the moment) but wishes to remain, in the spirit of these posts, anonymous.

View from the Camps

I've now had offers from people in all political parties to write reviews ahead of the by-elections on 9th September. I am very grateful but still interested to hear from anyone who isn't connected to a party - get in touch if you can do this for us. I will post the predictions / analysis when I get them!

Friday, August 13, 2010

Night Off

I'm having a night off from campaigning (the first since the election began) to go to a wedding reception. I have to say that the campaign so far has had a sort of unreal feel to it. Large numbers of people are away at the moment and an even larger number don't know or care about this poll. We're getting lots of good support in our target wards, including Bowthorpe, but somehow I'm not sure this one has caught fire yet! Maybe the protests from council tenants (see here) will enliven the campaign and remind people about Labour's record in office.

The irony is that this campaign may just change the face of City politics for the next decade; control of City Hall is uncertain and we have some big issues to address particularly with regards to the budget. I'd love people to get a bit more into this campaign because this really is a crucial time for the City.

For what its worth I don't think we've picked up much changed voting behaviour since the General Election, most people are sticking with their choice from May - of course the lack of students may really impact - so it may come down to turnout, or lack of.

p.s. I usually carry an independent assessment of candidates, predictions etc but my usual source has gone off on holiday! If there is anybody who would like to write a review let me know and I am happy to publish!

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Tories announce by-election slate of candidates

Press Release from Norwich Conservatives Campaign HQ:

A former city Tory Leader, a leading member of the business community and a charity worker are amongst the 9 men and women selected by the Norwich South Conservatives to contest the City by-elections due on 9th September.

The Executive Committee of the Norwich South Conservative Association have adopted the following candidates:

Bowthorpe - Antony Little - former City Councillor, Conservative Group Leader & High School Teacher

Eaton - Tak-Man Li - married with 3 kids, Tak runs a Chinese restaurant on the Prince of Wales Road and lives in Eaton

Lakenham - Chris Benjamin - standing for the third time in the ward. Chris lives locally.

Mancroft - Suzie Pulford - Suzie, 21, is a part-time charity worker who Is pleased to be standing in Mancroft for the second time.

Nelson - Stefan Rose - Golden Triangle resident Stefan is also on his second attempt to win the Nelson Ward. Stefan works in a business on the Unthank Road.

Thorpe Hamlet - Hannah Feiner - 20 year old Hannah is standing because she believes more young women ought to be involved in local politics. Hannah works in the Castle Mall.

Town Close - Eileen Wyatt lives in the heart of Town Close and understands what really matters to local people. Eileen is retired and has lived in Town Close for 40 years.

University - Nick Hindley - Nick lives in university ward and is a member of the TA during his spare time

Wensum - Stephen Karanicholas - UEA Student Stephen is a first time candidate for his home ward where he and his family live.

Commenting on the selections, Conservative Group Leader at City Hall Cllr. Andrew Wiltshire said:

"We have an incredible and diverse group of candidates of all ages, backgrounds and interests. The Conservatives are proud to have a slate that includes businessmen, students and public sector workers. We also have candidates with a wide variety of other interests such as the Territorial Army."

"Too many Councillors are professional politicians; the Conservatives at this election offer local campaigners with their community interests at heart. They are a fresh, new and young alternative to the Labour Party at City Hall."

"We are also immensely pleased that our former Councillor, Antony Little has decided to stand again for re-election. His experience, passion and knowledge are invaluable in holding Labour to account and in fighting for local people."

"The Conservatives will fight a vigorous and positive campaign over the summer and look forward to serving the people of Norwich."

In addition, Norwich North Conservatives have selected Chris Baxter (Crome), Oscar Pinnington (Mile Cross), Dave Mackie (Sewell) & Charlotte Casimir (Catton Grove)

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Why aren't right-wing people funny?

Excellent article from "Centre Right" on ConHome - well worth 2 minutes of your time (and very true too).

Labour blames Tories for by-elections; so not the High Court or, oh, themselves then...

According to the Labour Party Website:
As a result of expensive legal action by the Tory-controlled County Council (paid for out of your council tax), costly and unnecessary by-elections (paid for again out of your council tax!) have been forced on the citizens of Norwich.
Norwich Labour Party believes this money would have been better spent keeping day-care centres for the elderly open and keeping our street lights on after midnight

It might have been more accurate to say:

As a result of THE GENERAL ELECTION by A COUNTRY ANNOYED WITH GORDON BROWN (paid for out of your council tax), costly and unnecessary by-elections (paid for again out of your council tax!) have been forced on the citizens of Norwich BY THE HIGH COURT AS A DIRECT RESULT OF LABOUR'S UNITARY BID.


Wednesday, August 04, 2010

What happened to the class of '06?

There can be few entry year of councillors who have had a more uncertain or difficult time than that of 2006. Looking at the fate of each of them makes for interesting reading considering 7 out of the 13 has led their party or served on the Executive;

Bowthorpe - Antony Little, Conservative Leader - restanding
Catton Grove - Brian Morrey, Labour Deputy Leader of the Council - de-selected / standing down
Crome - Jenny Lay, Labour - restanding
Eaton - Brian Watkins, LibDem Leader - no news yet
Lakenham - Mary Cannell, Labour - standing down
Mancroft - Howard Jago, Green - standing down
Mile Cross - Linda Blakeway, Labour Executive Member - standing down
Nelson - Claire Stephenson, Green Leader - restanding
Sewell - Sue Sands, Labour Executive Member - restanding
Thorpe Hamlet - Joyce Divers, LibDem - standing down
Town Close - Janet Bearman, Green - standing down
University - Bert Bremner, Labour Executive Member - restanding
Wensum - Tom Llewelyn, Green - standing down

Having only 5 of the original cohort re-standing is incredible and most of those going were only first elected in 2006.

Notice of Poll

Well, it's started again with the issuing of the "Notice of Poll" and the beginning of the most bizarre set of by-election perhaps in electoral history. For those of you who missed this one ... in March the government canceled the Norwich elections because it wouldn't be worth the money to elect for one year if we were all going to be abolished pending unitary elections in May 2011. Now, the decision to cancel the elections were tied up with the unitary law, so when that law failed ... you guessed it, the election were back on!

So today has been a flurry of nomination papers, leaflets and canvass cards - like the good old days of, erm, 10 weeks ago ...

And now we're getting ready to hit the streets again tonight, in Bowthorpe, Eaton, Thorpe Hamlet and Town Close ... I deeply suspect we are more excited than the public but these are important elections and its our job to engage and get that turnout up.

As always, predictions welcome!