The process to select a successor to David Blunkett as Labour Member of Parliament for Sheffield Brightside and Hillsborough is about to get underway, with the constituency party this week agreeing a process to select his replacement.
Nominations are set to open this weekend with a final hustings meeting will be held on October 25.
With a majority in 2010 of 13,632 and 55 per cent of the vote, the seat is a classic ‘safe’ urban redoubt for Labour.
However the area hit the headlines recently with growing tensions in the Page Hall area of the seat between local residents and Slovakian Roma migrants who have moved into the area.
In a hard-hitting assessment of the situation, David Blunkett has warned there is a need to “change the behaviour and the culture” of Roma community, warning there was going to be an “explosion” otherwise.
Tellingly, the BNP got more than 3,000 votes here in 2010.
Candidates for the nomination have yet to emerge, however the deputy leader of Sheffield City Council, Harry Harpham, is regarded locally as a front-runner.
Harpham, a well-liked ex-miner, is also the council’s cabinet member for homes and neighbourhoods. With twice the national average number of council homes, housing is a major issue in the city and Harpham led the council’s successful Decent Homes programme.
It’s likely that a number of other Sheffield councillors will throw their hats in the ring, conscious that the city has a tradition of selecting local candidates. In fact each of the city’s five Labour MPs has strong local connections.
London interloper Nick Clegg in leafy Sheffield Hallam is the only exception to that rule.