Well, well, well.
It's finally been announced. Four weeks tomorrow we (and I use "we" loosely - around half of us) will go to the polls and vote for a new MP and, consequently, a new government. Those that want change will vote for someone different and hope they have enough support to be elected. Those that want to stick with the devil they know will hope enough of their fellow voters agree with that sentiment. Everyone has the choice to vote (even those in the 382 constituencies which are classed as "safe" seats - though in those cases the choice will probably be between the sitting MP and beating them).
Anyway, I know I haven't posted much - and probably won't improve that record over the next few weeks - but I thought I better put on record my predictions for May 6th. So here goes.
David Cameron will become the next Prime Minister. The Conservatives, despite all the recent chat about opinion polls tightening and hung parliaments, will end up with a majority of around 40. The polls will tighten - but only in as far as cutting the Tory lead from the 10-11 points it currently is to 7 or 8.
In Scotland, the SNP will win the national share of the vote, but will get scant reward. They'll make two gains - in either Dundee West, Livingston, Kilmarnock & Loudoun, Edinburgh East or (more doubtful but still possible) Stirling or Ochil & South Perthshire. But they'll lose Glasgow East back to Labour and have to fight off Tory challenges in Angus and Perth & North Perthshire.
The Tories will turn the borders blue, with wins in Berwickshire, Roxburgh & Selkirk, Dumfries & Galloway... as well as 2 potential surprises in Ayr, Carrick & Cumnock, Argyll & Bute, West Aberdeenshire & Kincardine, Edinburgh South and Edinburgh South-West as Scotland returns (vaguely) to the Tories, giving them 20% of the vote and 5 MPs north of the border.
The Lib Dems will, I think, lose their position that the Iraq war gave them in 2005 and won't make any real gains but losing Michael Moore in the borders and potentially West Aberdeenshire & Kincardine, Argyll & Bute as well as the opportunity of a gain in Edinburgh South make it a tough night for Tavish. I still expect them to hold on to around 8 or 9 seats, making them the second party in Scotland in seats but likely fourth on vote share.
And what of Labour? Well, a night to forget. They'll gain back Glasgow East from the SNP but most of the night will be a rearguard action, fighting tough battles across Scotland - and the rest of the UK - and several current Cabinet ministers are in danger of leaving the Palace of Westminster for the last time. I reckon to see 37 Scottish Labour MPs, down two from 2005 - probably in the shape of 2 losses to the SNP and one to the Tories - which, on the face of it, would not be a disaster, and they'd have the electoral system to thank for it.
So there. I reckon some people may have better predictions (and advice on tactical voting) but I don't think I'll be far off. Kind of makes the point the Electoral Commission is making - only a hundred or so seats will be proper contests, and only 6 or 7 seats in Scotland will (in my view) change hands. But I guess that's what the next four weeks are about. Onward!