Saturday, 4 April 2015

Why should anyone believe that Nick Clegg will lose Sheffield Hallam?

The Independent is at it again, pushing the line that Labour can decapitate the Liberal Democrats in Sheffield.  In fact, the small print of the Indy's story reinforces the analyses summarised by Jonathan Calder here which should have scotched the story.

" look at past performance – 16 local elections in Sheffield Hallam since 2010, with 14 Lib Dem victories. "

It is said that the LibDem majority depends on the student vote. Not only is the student population relatively small, it also comprises those who have accepted the coalition's revised student loan régime. (One wonders how much higher student fees would have been if Labour had won in 2010.) The only problem is going to be to get their vote out.

In fact, given the demography of the constituency, reflected in the 2010 poll*, if Clegg should lose, it would be to the Conservative, not to Labour - and it would take a political earthquake to overturn a 30% majority. If that earthquake were to occur similarly in other LibDem seats where Conservatives are challengers, then we will suffer five years of Conservative majority government and the return to Thatcherism which Ed Miliband says he fears. But perhaps that is his aim. Perhaps Nicola Sturgeon is not the only one who secretly wishes for a Cameron majority for their own personal reasons.

I have criticised Clegg over the period of his leadership, but he remains the most straightforward and consistent of the major party leaders**. Above all, he now and again reasserts his liberal values;

The Deputy Prime Minister warned that on key issues such as civil liberties, the environment and workers’ rights, the Tories had now moved so far to the right it had almost nothing in common with the party that was elected in 2010. [...]
“They professed an interest in civil liberties, they professed an interest in the environment, they professed an interest in being a centralist party.
“Five years later it has been an almost non-stop struggle for me to remind the Conservatives to care about civil liberties – they spend most of their time at the Home Office trying to trash them. They (also) appear to have absolutely no interest in the environment whatsoever.
“I hear some people on the right of British politics rant against single mothers, the EU and wind farms all in the same breath. What have they got to do with each other? It’s a completely random set of prejudices.”

*Sheffield, Hallam in 2010:
Electorate 68798, Local Council: City Of Sheffield
Nick Clegg, LDm 27324 53.43%
Nicola Bates, Con 12040 23.54%
Jack Scott, Lab  8228 16.09%
Nigel James, UKIP  1195 2.33%
Steve Barnard, Grn   919 1.79%
David Wildgoose, EngDems   586 1.14%
Martin Fitzpatrick, Ind   429 0.83%
Ray Green, CP   250 0.48%
Mark Adshead, Lny   164 0.32%
Total 51135 74.32%
LDm Majority 15284 29.89%
LDm Hold

Labour has never held the constituency

**Some might retort "that is not saying much"


Anonymous said...

You state that if the lib dem vote collapses then it would be the tories that would gain but surely that would depend on where the vote swings to? Which is why the polls labour to win - disgruntled lib dem voters switching on mass to labour.

Frank H Little said...

Just look at the numbers.