Monday, January 12, 2015

The collapse of the Conservative vote in Sheffield Hallam

A couple of months before the last general election, Jack Scott, the Labour PPC for Sheffield Hallam, announced that he was "fairly sure" that he could win the seat.

As a result, this blog elected him its Cockeyed Optimist of the Week and, sure enough, he finished a distant third when the election came.

Now the Guardian is getting excited by the prospect of Scott's successor Oliver Coppard winning the seat.

I don't believe Nick Clegg will lose his seat - and Neil Monnery certainly doesn't believe he will lose it - though Lord Ashcroft's constituency poll in Hallam shows Labour only a little way behind the Liberal Democrats.

But there is a big political story here. Sheffield Hallam used to be a safe Conservative seat - they won it even in 1906 and 1945, and polled over 60 per cent of the vote in 1970.

If, as Ashcroft's poll suggests, they are now in third place, that is a remarkable decline. It is of a piece with their inability to return a single councillor in most Northern cities and, even more startlingly, in Oxford or Cambridge.

David Cameron once understood that the Conservatives needed to win back liberal suburbia. But his insistence on putting short-term tactics above long-term strategy means that his party has less and less appeal outside its Southern heartlands.
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So perhaps the Conservatives should worry about Sheffield Hallam more than Nick Clegg does?


Anonymous said...

This is easily explained - from the mid eighties onwards, Sheffield City Council built more social housing in the ward, building up a client base. Demographics, dear boy, demographics...

Anonymous said...

And because everyone hates Nick Clegg!