Thursday, October 26, 2017

Could the Liberal Democrats win a Sheffield Hallam by-election?

© Ashley Dace
The Yorkshire Post reports:
The Lib Dems have brought forward their selection process to find a new candidate for Sheffield Hallam in response to the suspension of the sitting Labour MP Jared O'Mara. 
The move follows further allegations of sexist and misogynistic comments posted by Mr O'Mara on internet forums prior to his election.
It goes on to say that there are five Lib Dems have put themselves for the nomination, but Nick Clegg is not among them.

I am sure Labour will do all they can to avoid a by-election, but could the Lib Dems win it if it were held?

Before you answer that question, you need to take two factors on board:
  • Sheffield Hallam is not a blasted wasteland of whippets and feral children. It is an affluent seat with one of the most educated electorates outside the Lib Dem belt in South-West London. I believe that when he won it for the Lib Dems in 1997, Richard Allan achieved the biggest swing against the Tories anywhere in that remarkable general election. Up until then it had been regarded as a safe Conservative seat.
  • The constituency does not have as high student vote as people think. The 2010 boundary changes moved many students into the Sheffield Central constituency.
There is a good analysis of Hallam on the All That's Left site, though it was written for the 2015 general election and so does not mention Jared O'Mara's victory there.

Featured on Liberal Democrat VoiceLater. The secretary of the Lib Dem Yorkshire and the Humber region tells me that the Hallam selection process was already underway - it has not been brought forward because of the revelations about Jared O'Mara.

Still, you can prove anything with facts.

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