Which party will prosper in 2018?
PUBLISHED: 14:30 29 December 2017 | UPDATED: 14:30 29 December 2017
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The turn of the year is a time when plans are hatched, when hopes are high and optimism rules.
Many of us have taken the time away from the daily grind to contemplate what we could have done better in the year gone by and what improvements we hope to achieve in the coming 12 months.
For many this means joining a gym, vowing this will be the year of the big promotion, the dream house move or some other lofty life goal.
But, sadly, the vast majority of us will be back here in 12 months making the same or similar promises to ourselves all over again.
Our political leaders will also have taken their time away from Westminster to reflect on the extraordinary year that has just passed and begin to get their heads around what is to come.
The three major parties in England all have a lot of work to do. But what will be their New Year’s resolutions? For the Liberal Democrats 2018 needs to be about building. The fallout from the coalition government and the tuition fees promise still haunts the party. Let’s not forget that less than three years ago the Lib Dems had 57 seats. They now have just 12.
They won four seats at June’s election but their hopes were much higher, especially after they captured Richmond Park (briefly) from the Tories.
Now they have party veteran Sir Vince Cable as leader, a familiar face in the way Tim Farron never was and not nearly as damaged by being in government as the likes of Nick Clegg.
Many thought the party’s anti-Brexit stance would attract voters annoyed at the referendum to leave the European Union. But this proved not to be the case. So why has Sir Vince decided to plough on with this policy?
For the Lib Dems to gain any ground on Labour and the Conservatives they must stand out. They are currently the party of the centre of British politics but that alone is not enough to gain traction.
On Brexit they can stand alone and Sir Vince was right not to change the party’s hard-line Remain stand. He is banking on the current polling, which shows an increasingly amount of doubt and fear over what Brexit will actually mean, becoming votes for his party.
The local elections in May will provide a good marker for the Lib Dems. The party has traditionally been strong in council elections and they will need to build from that base again if they are to grab back the parliamentary seats they once had.
A year ago no-one would have predicted the year Labour and Jeremy Corbyn enjoyed in 2017. The belief that there was no appetite for left-wing politics and that Mr Corbyn would be routed at the ballot box proved wayward.
The reasons are plentiful but years of austerity, wage stagnation and a woeful Tory campaign were perhaps the main drivers.
Labour’s resolution now has to be to build on the very solid foundations they have laid. But that will be far harder than anything they achieved in 2017. Surely the Tories will never again be as bad as they were during the election campaign?
Expect more policies aimed at people who feel let down – we have already seen a renewed pledge to shift the law to help people who rent. Austerity is the battleground Labour feel they can win on.
For the Tories and Theresa May everything will be consumed by Brexit. If the government can get that right everything, they believe, should fall into place.
They will be encouraged that Mrs May managed to get Britain over the line and phase two trade talks will begin in 2018. The prime minister will hope she can continue in the strong form she ended this year and see off any leadership challenges. That, like the fate of the government, will hinge on Brexit negotiations.