1. The outcome of the parliamentary elections in May will be as follows (current numbers of seats in brackets):
Labour 46 (50)
SNP 34 (26, including Presiding Officer)
LibDem 21 (17)
Greens 12 (7)
Conservatives 11 (17)
SSP/Solidarity 1 (6)
Others 4 (6)
2. As leader of the largest party, McConnell opens negotiations with the LibDems with a view to forming a coalition administration. After three weeks of prolonged bargaining, interspersed with internal party consultations, the proposed deal founders on the LibDem refusal to accept nuclear power stations or weapons and on Labour's refusal to accept a local income tax. The Daily Record reports that Stephen has been in constant secret contact with Salmond during the negotiations.
3. Salmond now opens negotiations with the LibDems and the Greens. These are successfully concluded three weeks later, when Salmond agrees to postpone any referendum on independence until 2010; he justifies this concession on the basis that his pre-election pledge of an immediate referendum would only have applied if the SNP had secured the largest number of seats. The centrepiece of the new coalition is a proposal for a local income tax. Parliament assembles to vote on the arrangements, but to no-one's surprise the new coalition fails to secure a majority when four SNP MSPs from the party's fundamentalist wing abstain and three LibDems vote against (allegedly because of having been leant on by Ming Campbell who has been horrified by this dalliance with the nationalists, which is not going to do any good for his Westminster prospects).
4. As it is now July, the Parliament goes into recess for two months. (Nothing is allowed to disrupt the MSPs' family friendly holidays.) The Executive is in effect being run by civil servants on a care and maintenance basis. Westminster, Whitehall and England look on, appalled. When it is revealed that the McConnells' summer holidays were spent at Lulu's villa in Torremolinos (The Daily Record went bananas), the Labour Party (encouraged, it is believed, by Prime Minister Brown) organises a leadership contest which, after a special party conference in September, is won by Iain Gray MSP (who has taken over John Home Robertson's seat). McConnell accepts defeat gracefully but regrets that he will no longer be the best small First Minister in the world.
5. In October, Gray succeeds in convincing the Tories, most of the LibDems and the Greens not to oppose a minority Labour administration which will treat each policy issue on its merits and it is duly approved by the Parliament. The legislative programme is anodyne in the extreme. Salmond resigns his Holyrood seat and his leadership of the SNP to return to Westminster. The Scottish political scene returns to its usual torpor. But nobody expects the Gray administration to survive for long. But attention has turned to the forthcoming UK election expected in spring 2008...
30 December 2006
As everyone else has decided to burden you with his or her predictions for 2007, I thought I might add my tuppenceworth. I have limited my prognostications to Scottish politics.