2012: A Westminster odyssey

Who's going to have a good year – and who's likely to come a cropper? Our very own Mystic Meg of SW1, Simon Carr, gazes into his political crystal ball...

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Indy Politics

Going up

David Cameron

After a year and a half, the Prime Minister is still recognisably human. He speaks in a way people can understand, his earnest Conservative civilities command respect. He had a good little war. He bopped the EU in the latest euro-excursion and despite a chorus of educated disapproval from our wise commentariat enjoyed a six-point poll bounce. His instincts and self-interest coincide wonderfully – the more considerate to coalition partners he is the less he will be blamed.

Natascha Engel

First chair of the Backbench Business Committee (BBC) has endeared herself to MPs as polite, and fair-minded. Where Harriet Harman would schedule a debate on "Paper – Our Friend", the BBC asks the House to vote on an EU referendum. Will this help or hinder the creation of a House Business Committee?

Michael Gove

The Tory party's most effective minister has a revolution going in the most conservative and intolerant profession in Britain. The contortions he forces opponents into – a sort of political Twister – is high-level entertainment.

Bill Cash

His years in the wilderness were long and the torments he endured were cruel. He has been regarded as a swivel-eyed fanatic because he knows a very great deal about a very important subject. Now chairing the European Scrutiny Committee and if not at the heart of the debate he is at least now in one of its arteries.

Margaret Hodge

Marvellously non-partisan chair of Public Accounts Committee with the courage to attack not only the previous government's PFI record but also the tax man.

Yvette Cooper

Top of the shadow cabinet elections. A makeover. New hair. New face, often smiling. The common assumption is that she'll be leading the party next. The common prayer is that she'll do so before the election.

Andrew Tyrie

Fine, non-partisan chair of the Treasury select committee. Has managed to unsettle Chancellor George Osborne on more than one occasion with regard to "fairness" but without ever losing his Tory voice.

Tom Watson

What a good year he's had, rising from his knees to lead the attack on the Rupert Murdoch empire over allegations of phone hacking. With his Gordon Brown connection he may be fulfilling the former PM's furious threat to Rupert: "I will destroy you!" If the attention that he has received doesn't derange him – by no means a certainty – his hero status should find some sort of reward, preferably this side of heaven.

Keith Vaz

After what could possibly be described as a chequered political career (if you can have such a thing with so few white squares) he has finally come to berth on the Home Affairs select committee where he now operates with all the elan of an investigating magistrate. Perfectly impartial, very polite, and always impressively concise he keeps his various witnesses in order no less than he does his members.

Going down

Nick Clegg

His victories don't really get remembered and his defeats are celebrated. He may say he saved the Health Service in its high-level reorganisation but people can actually feel the effect of paying £9,000 a year in tuition fees. And who can forget the public's verdict on the "progressive majority" assembled to promoted the AV campaign. He may be safe in 2015 – the Tories may not stand against him.

Ed Miliband

Voters haven't got beyond the stage of "what is he doing with his face?" Expressions dance around his features like children in a playground. Only three per cent of the public think he has leadership qualities and 50 per cent think he has no qualities. He said in an interview that he can do a Rubik's cube in a minute and a half. That's like Osborne confessing a secret wardrobe of Nazi regalia. His private office is a mess, although a new chief of staff and speechwriter might get his message across. "Ed has launched a five-year experiment to see if Labour can win from the left," one MP says. Exactly what Tony Blair told them not to do!

Ed Balls

Fridge magnet Labour. Even in friendly interviews he uses only 50 phrases to mix and match into "Vote Labour" sentences. Unbearable to listen to - so people agree with what he's saying as long as it isn't him saying it. Because he wasn't born into the Labour Party he daren't say anything that doesn't sound Labour and is thus more Labour than anyone would naturally be. "He's like one of those Ulstermen wearing a bowler hat because they think it makes them look English," as a proper Labour MP said. To Balls's credit he has realised – speculation has it – that he is not electable himself and so is managing Yvette's campaign to be the next leader as and when.

Vince Cable

Tricked by a pretty girl into revealing far too much of his inner workings.

Chris Huhne

Facing the possibility of a police prosecution and electoral wipe-out may not be worse than shale gas tearing the heart out of his energy plans.

Jeremy Hunt

His fawning on Murdoch's BSkyB bid turned out to be on the wrong side of history.

Andrew Lansley

His Trotskyist tendency towards perpetual revolution has exhausted his supporters.

Mike Hancock

Absurd old goat.

Aidan Burley

Nazis used to be funny but now the laughter is more complicated.

Andrew Bridgen

Hasn't recovered his confidence since that matter on the balcony. And Philip Hollobone has taken his favoured place on the bench.

Mark Francois

Government whip in charge of the vote on the economy. The motion "This House has considered the economy" crushingly defeated to Labour jeers and Government embarrassment. Now is not the time to have a less than perfect grip on the House.

Alan Johnson

Demoralised by his private difficulties, he has sunk from sight. And very much missed he is too.

And the ones to watch...

Boris Johnson

"Not only has he no future in politics, the Tory party has no future while he is a member of it." So an unwise commentator said before the 2005 election. But Boris let himself be taken in hand, rose to the occasion and has kept rising. Commentators still say it is impossible he will be PM, but five years is an eternity in politics..

John Bercow

His management of the House has the instinctive talent of an abusive husband: he hits a Tory hard and then after the shock has died, strokes him or her. His constant campaign is to be re-elected after the next election. It's probably on course at the moment, though forces are gathering in a desultory sort of way.

David Miliband

He has the motive, and with the biggest gang in the PLP he also has the means. All he needs now is the opportunity. His every speech shows his brother in a bad light.

Maurice Glasman

The brilliant intellectual who invented Blue Labour, now in the Lords. He wants the working class to say what it thinks "without being corrected all the time" by the elite with all their equality tosh and loving it up with criminals, deviants and immigrants (Harriet Harman, in brief). Funny and intelligent he describes a Labour party many Tories would join. He should try to counter the slurs of racism and misogyny that are being cast on him by hate-mongering liberals.

Hilary Benn

After a whirlwind appearance as shadow leader of the House of Commons he must see himself as a leadership candidate. It won't look very pretty when he collides with the Ed Balls' machine.

Nick Brown

If he was chief whip you can't imagine Labour doing so badly.

Chuka Umunna

Sombre new member, just voted onto the Treasury select committee. He went to New York, "to speak truth to Wall Street" and seems to have survived the derision. But he needs to grow his hair if he is keen on fulfilling the destiny that he feels – to lead Labour (probably not by speaking truth to it).

Stella Creasy

Burning with a slow, steady, low-voltage anger she is another new intake contender to lead Labour.

Rachel Reeves

Recently promoted. One of Labour's new Puritans – the sombre, earnest, Bible-bashing Roundheads – who think they can bombard the British people into accepting their version of human nature.

Adam Holloway

You have to watch this new intake MP. He voted against a three-line whip on the Europe referendum and then bore all of the consequences cheerfully. Aimiably self-deprecating. Ex-military, ex-TV, ex-PPS. Whatever is next in store?

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