2015 was a busy year in politics, thanks to an unexpected election win for David Cameron's Conservative Party and a slew of resignations, which followed.
Jeremy Corbyn's sensational 32-year rise to the top of the Labour Party caught everyone by surprise, and even in Nick Clegg's worst nightmares he couldn't have expected to see the Lib Dems reduced to just eight MPs.
But what does 2016 hold? Here are the top events, which will make the political news over the next 12 months.
When: November 8, 2016.
The most powerful country in the world is going to elect its new leader, and there is a chance it might be a man who wants to ban all Muslims from coming to America. Before he entered the race to become the Republican candidate, Donald Trump was famous for his bizarre hair, having lots of money and making questionable comments about how attractive he finds his own daughter. If Trump does crash and burn, then the battled to lead the self-styled Greatest Country In The World could come down to Jeb Bush, the son and brother of two former presidents, and Hillary Clinton, the wife of a former president. Bush v Clinton. Again.
LONDON MAYORAL ELECTION
When: May 5 2016
After eight years of Boris Johnson, another man will take up the position of London Mayor in May. It is likely to be a man, with neither the Tories or Labour selecting a female candidate, and it is unlikely that the Lib Dem’s Caroline Pidgeon is going to storm to victory. Richmond Park MP Zac Goldsmith will be in the blue corner, while representing Labour is the bus driver’s son from Tooting, Sadiq Khan. Expect to hear a lot about backstories in the campaign, as Khan plays up his humble beginnings in contrast to Goldsmith’s multi-million inherited fortune. A win for Labour will be spun by pro-Corbynites as a vindication of the direction the party is going underneath its current leadership, but Khan will very much run his own campaign on his own terms.
SCOTTISH PARLIAMENT ELECTION/WELSH ASSEMBLY ELECTIONS/LOCAL ELECTIONS
When: May 5 2016
The Scottish, Welsh and local elections will be the first big test for Jeremy Corbyn as Labour leader. If Labour does well, his supporters will say it is proof of his popularity, but if the party performs poorly those same supporters will argue he hasn’t had enough time to turn the ship around. His biggest test will come in Scotland, with the Scottish National Party hoping to carry through the momentum it picked up after the 2014 Independence Referendum. After Labour’s near wipe out in Scotland in the General Election, keeping its 38 Holyrood seats would be seen as a good result. The wildcard in the mix is the Ruth Davidson, the leader of the Scottish Conservatives. If the election were decided on Twitter jokes alone, she would absolutely walk it.
When: June 2016
It is not 100 per cent certain the EU referendum will happen in 2016, but that is where all the smart money is heading. David Cameron will sit down with other EU leaders at a summit in February to hammer out his renegotiation, and if it goes well, could trigger the referendum then and there. He has to give four months notice of polling day, meaning June would be the earliest date available. Before the main battle of the actual referendum, the two rival camps calling for Brexit will fight it out to see who gets the designation as the official ‘Leave’ group. That could be even nastier than the referendum campaign itself if the big egos in both camps are unwilling to compromise. Either way, the referendum itself is the most important decision on how the UK is governed for 40 years.
Lib Dem - Brighton, September 17-21 2016
Labour – Liverpool, September 25- 28 2016
Conservatives – Birmingham, October 2-5 2016.
The 2015 conferences were carried out in somewhat of a daze. The Tories couldn’t believe they had won the election, Labour couldn’t believe Jeremy Corbyn was now leader, and the Lib Dems couldn’t believe any journalists had even bothered to come. The 2016 bashes will be much spicier. If the EU Referendum is held in June, expect the Conservative conference in Birmingham to be a bitter post-mortem of the result. If the UK votes to stay in the EU, there will be many eurosceptics who will hold the party leadership responsible, especially if David Cameron didn’t allow Cabinet Ministers to vote with their consciences.
Labour’s conference in Liverpool will be full of backroom dealings as Jeremy Corbyn supporters try to push through a rule change making it hard for their leader to be ousted. This will also be the first conference where the wave of activists inspired to join party on Corbyn will be out in droves.
The Lib Dems will be hoping their get together in Brighton will be off the back of a decent showing in the local elections. If not, leader Tim Farron can just re-read his speech about the Lib Dem fight back coming soon. Really soon. Honestly.