THE year just passed brought a whirlwind of tragedy and chaos, so most of us are hoping for a more serene 12 months this time around.

But with an attempted coup in Washington and soaring coronavirus cases across the world in the first fortnight of 2021, anyone hoping for a de-escalation could well be disappointed.

It’s not all bad news, however, with a vaccine roll-out under way. It’s also set to be a huge 12 months for the independence movement.

To chart a course through the coming months, we asked some of The National’s top columnists for their hopes, predictions and fears for 2021.

Here’s what Ruth Wishart, Lesley Riddoch, Kevin McKenna, the Wee Ginger Dug and The Jouker had to say…

1. What did we learn from politics in 2020?

RW: Be careful whom you invite round your house for a chat.

LR: That Scotland and England live on the same island geographically but different planets politically.

KM: Politicians are useless in a crisis.

WGD: Donald Trump's supporters taught us that it is possible to mount a failed coup while dressed as all five members of the Village People.

The National: Trump supporters storming the CapitolTrump supporters storming the Capitol

TJ: Nothing we didn’t know already – the Tories are self-serving liars and cheats, Labour not much better, the SNP is still dithering over indyref2, the Unionist parties are in denial about the Yes surge – situation normal, apart from some disease or other.

2. What's the best case scenario over the next 12 months?

RW: A wildly successful referendum result.

LR: Boris Johnson remains highly visibile, keeps overpromising, under-delivering and failing to learn from experience. And of course indyref2.

KM: Scottish Socialist Alliance forms post-independence government of Scotland.

WGD: We win indyref2, the vaccine gets the epidemic under control, life starts to get back to normal, and Donald Trump goes to jail.

TJ: Boris Johnson gets jailed for cycling too far.

READ MORE: Boris Johnson's controversial bike ride did not break the law, Met Police chief says

3. What's the worst case scenario?

RW: We continue to treat the Prime Minister as someone relevant.

LR: Opinion polls edge back from 50%+ support for independence when the pandemic abates and Nicola is not gracing TV screens and radio on a daily basis. That probably won’t stop SNP winning absolutely majority in May but reintroduces confidence-eroding uncertainty and hesitation.

KM: Covid-20.

WGD: That the disgraced former American president decides to retire to play golf in Scotland. But thankfully the Mexican government will offer to pay for the construction of a wall around Turnberry.

TJ: Donald Trump immigrates to Scotland and starts a new party to take over Britain.

The National:

4. What do you expect to happen?

RW: I have no plans to jinx my expectations by making them public.

LR: Indyref2 in late 2021 a la Mike Russell prophecy to the Aussies.

KM: Nicola Sturgeon and Michel Barnier finally get a room.

WGD: Pro-indy parties will win the Scottish elections leading to a full blown constitutional crisis when Johnson refuses an independence referendum. However this will backfire and will boost support for independence to new record levels, emboldening the Scottish government to seek alternative routes to independence.

TJ: The light at the end of the tunnel will still be an express train heading towards us.

5. Who/what would you like to see less of this year?

RW: Long list, but a period of silence from Mr Gove would be welcome.

LR: Apart from Covid stats and all the associated paraphernalia of the pandemic – I would love not to see Matt (Angry) Hancock ever again.

The National:

KM: Jason Leitch.

WGD: I'd like to see a lot less infighting amongst independence supporters and for us to focus on making the case for independence and regaining Scotland's independence. But since falling out with one another is integral to Scottish culture that's not likely to happen, so I'd settle for seeing less of Michael Gove's smug lying face.

TJ: The Royals in Scotland – keep their disease-spreading antics to England.

READ MORE: REVEALED: Royals ignored Scottish Government pleas to call off Edinburgh visit

6. Who/what would you like to see more of?

RW: The returning officers at a referendum count.

LR: Green politics, Andy Wightman deciding to stand again as an Indy or within new party grouping.

KM: The bottom of a glass of draught Guinness.

WGD: I'd like to see the British media take a leaf out of the US media's book, It has (belatedly) started to call out the lies and deceit of the Republicans, The British media needs to start doing the same with the lies and deceit of the Tories.

TJ: More of the House of Lords proving why they should not exist.

7. Who/what do you think will be the biggest winner this year?

RW: Anyone getting the double up with a vaccine.

LR: The new Yes membership organisation. Kerfuffle over the name has obscured the skill base, experience and determination of the new steering committee. If any group can stay democratic but avoid being immobilised by a big membership – it's them. Roll on The Name and really effective grassroots organisation for indyref2 with an indy champion in every village and street.

KM: The manufacturer of the felt-tip pens used to make the redactions in the Salmond report.

WGD: Scottish independence.

TJ: Covid-19 … am just waiting for the next new variant.

8. Who/what do you think will be the biggest loser?

RW: The linesman who runs out of road.

LR: Scottish Unionist Parties – which one takes the biggest dunt in May's Holyrood elections is uncertain, but Starmer can't help Richard Leonard's lack of profile and comprehensible stance on independence – and Baronness Davidson can't help the man in precisely the wrong place to be Scots Tory leader – Douglas Ross.

KM: Whoever wins the Scottish Labour leadership contest.

The National:

WGD: The British state. 2021 will be the year that its decline becomes terminal.

TJ: The Tories in Scotland will be wiped out at the Holyrood election – farmers and fishers are very unhappy bunnies.

9. Who will be the break-out star of 2021?

RW: Crystal ball seems to still be on mute.

LR: Still a toss-up between the only two women who've been right all the time about Covid – Linda Bauld and Devi Sridhar.

KM: Paul Kavanagh’s new dug.

WGD: The US polis who puts handcuffs on Donald Trump and takes him into custody.

TJ: A bit obscure but watch out for some fellow called Joe Biden.

10. Come up with an advertising slogan for 2021.

RW: Vote Boris. Vote Bampot.

LR: The year Scots put Covid behind and independence in front.

KM: You might feel a little prick.

WGD: However bad it gets, at least it's not 2020.

TJ: The year that the indyref2 date will be announced.