We can topple Clegg in Sheffield Hallam

by Oliver Coppard

Last Monday I was selected as Labour’s prospective parliamentary candidate for Sheffield Hallam. As you may know, our current MP is the deputy prime minister, Nick Clegg, who holds the seat with a 19,000 vote margin over Labour. The Labour party has never won in Sheffield Hallam and I’ve lost count of the number of people who have told me I’m crazy for believing we can win here. The question I was most frequently asked in the round of interviews that followed on Tuesday was ‘but can you really win it? But, really?’.

As I write this we have 677 days to overcome that 19,000 vote deficit, but I wouldn’t have taken the challenge on if I didn’t think it could be done.

Nick Clegg has been a disaster for Sheffield. He doesn’t live here or even spend very much time here. He broadcasts his weekly radio show on LBC in London. His government has cut the city’s budget by £50 million just this year, and last week they have announced yet more real terms cuts to the pay of public sector workers who make up 20% of the city’s workforce. Nick Clegg is an absentee landlord who has done nothing for the people who live in this constituency or this city.

I’m actually from Sheffield Hallam; I was born and brought up here. I went to school here, my friends and family live here, and I’m a member of this community. It may be the circles I move in, but I’m yet to hear anyone I know admit that they’ll be voting for Nick Clegg in 2015.

The challenge won’t be to convince people not to vote for Nick Clegg. The real challenge will be to convince people to actively look to Labour for a real and credible alternative in Hallam, and a large part of that is about our own belief. No one else will believe we can win here if we don’t believe it ourselves. I think people are genuinely and quite rightly beginning to understand the Lib Dems, despite the size of the majority, can no longer consider Sheffield Hallam a safe seat.

So the big question is how do we win it? It’s not the most glamorous of answers, but the truth is it’s going to take hard work and an active, well organised campaign. The evidence of the local elections earlier this year shows that where we organised effectively, we did well. Where we put boots on the ground in big numbers and spoke to people, we won.

If we actively, honestly and openly talk to people in a place like Sheffield Hallam, we will find common goals across the community; saving the NHS, delivering an evidence based education policy, combating tax avoidance, building a fairer economy. People outside of the Labour Party care about those issues just as much as we do. Over the next 680 days we’re going to be working hard to build an inclusive campaign by talking about the issues that we all care about, and values that we have in common, right across this community.

To the extent that Nick Clegg does think about this constituency, I’m fairly sure he isn’t overly concerned by the prospect of losing his seat in 2015. However, his complacency and disregard are his biggest weakness. This is my home and I won’t sit by as he continues to do so much damage to this community, and neither will the rest of the people of Sheffield Hallam.

Oliver Coppard is the prospective parliamentary candidate for Sheffield Hallam

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21 Responses to “We can topple Clegg in Sheffield Hallam”

  1. james says:

    Yeh right – tell you what let’s have a bet on it. Any money you like that Labour won’t win Sheffield Hallam.

    `His government has cut the city’s budget by £50 million just this year, and last week they have announced yet more real terms cuts to the pay of public sector workers who make up 20% of the city’s workforce. Nick Clegg is an absentee landlord who has done nothing for the people who live in this constituency or this city.`

    What would Labour do instead – facts and evidence please not wishful thinking.

    ` saving the NHS` – how will Labour do this when they will be a) spending less than the coalition and we can all see what happened in wales

    `combating tax avoidance` – this govt is doing 100% more than Labour ever did on this issue

    `building a fairer economy` – here’s a question for you – I own my own small terraced house in a northern city (no not a palace) – I work and am effectively locked out of the benefit system. This govt has given me more of my own money back and I’m looking into the green deal – oh, and i’ve had free insulation due to a govt scheme (that used to be limited to people not working or pensioners). What is it that you can give me (and those at the bottom of the pile who are genuinely disabled and unemployed) that isn’t being given by the current govt?

    Can you also tell me the concise and costed Labour plans.

    Ta muchly.

  2. John Wooding says:

    How can a labour party that is trying to out-tory the tories on cuts and spending win anywhere?

    The Labour Party that continued the spirit of Thatcherism; started the privatisation of the NHS under Blair; brought us the shame, murder and unwarranted destruction of the war in Iraq; to mention only a few of their many sins; that is not the one that Clement Attlee and many other good and great people belonged to.

    It has become a smug middle class party that would rather ignore the downtrodden and cosy up to its sponsors.

    Labour will be well and truly beaten in Sheffield Hallam by a man who has made mistakes but whose basic instincts are well to the left of “New” Labour, and I expect with an increased majority

  3. Mark Senior says:

    2012 local election results from the 5 wards making up Sheffield Hallam . Lib Dems won all 5 seats 11,461 votes Labour 6,774 votes .
    What good has the Labour run Sheffield City Council done for the people of Hallam or for the public sector workers who make up 20% of the city workforce . They pushed through £ 50 million of cuts , children’s centres , libraries , athletic stadiums , theatres , museums , tramlines etc etc , nothing is safe from Labour .

  4. Quincel says:

    I hate to say it, but 19k votes is too much by far. It would be at least on of the 5 largest swings to Labour in a seat in General Election history. And while Clegg is unpopular, he hasn’t yet fallen below rabies in polling. And while I’m sure you are a great PPC, you haven’t yet beaten Jesus in terms of popularity. I too will happily bet on it if you are up for it. I’ll give you 2/1 on you winning?

  5. southern voter says:

    The lib dems will pour resources and manpower in Hallam to make sure
    Clegg wins this seat.Expect them to battle like tigers.
    Labour must match them otherwise it will be a lib dem hold come may 2015

  6. steve says:

    “saving the NHS”

    You’re having a laugh!

    Labour, when in office, initiated further privatisation of the NHS, now the Tories are continuing with the same ideological project.

    I suppose you think privatisation is the best way to ‘save’ the NHS. If so, the NHS needs to be saved from both New Labour and the Tories.

  7. Rebecca Taylor says:

    There was a council by-election in the Fulwood ward of Sheffield Hallam in May this year. The LibDem candidate “romped home” (not my words, but those of Labour activist Kevin Meagher in The Guardian) ending up with a 1400 majority over the next candidate Labour’s Olivia Blake.

    Two questions:
    1) If you were involved in the council by-election, what went wrong for Labour?
    2) If you weren’t involved, why not?

  8. Robert says:

    I suspect people need to look at the Labour party and where it’s going before winning Clegg seat, he’s pretty safe. I suspect next year will see the Polls even out and I would think we will see another massively poor turn out and Labour and Tories running after Clegg to get into a coalition

  9. Ex_labour says:

    Its a nice thought that the smug git could be deposed at the next GE. However its wishful thinking.

    He is not popular in Sheffield for reversing on tuition fees etc and blocking a government loan to Forgemasters. But lets be clear the Hallam constituency is not representitive of Sheffield as a whole. With its universities, teaching hospitals and location ( near the Peak National Park) full of affluent PhD’s and middle class professionals its far removed from the industrial gritty side of the city potrayed in the “Full Monty”.

    I predict a much reduced majority, but Clegg still in place.

  10. Compost says:

    So depressing to read this article. Aren’t there any real people in politics any more, or just mind-numbing robots who read cliché after cliché in the hope to get elected by being less worse than the other guy?

    Firstly, you talk about common goals, yet in power and in opposition Labour have failed to act in the best interest of those common goals? Save the NHS? Give GP’s a huge pay rise for not working weekends? Tax avoidance? How much did Starbucks, Google etc pay in the 13 years Labour were in power? Build a fairer economy? I read a paper by Hull University (wish I could find it) stating that during the Labour years (1997 – 2005), the North had less disposable in their pocket by 2005 and the South had more. How is that fair?

    Secondly, 20% of the city is public sector. That’s part of the problem, Sheffield has little wealth generating industries left. No wealth, so over reliant and over dependent. I don’t know what the optimum public/private ratio is but I’m sure it’s not 8% unemployed, 20% public, 62% private. You just can’t raise the money from so few to pay for the services. So is Labour to increase the size of financial burden to the debt-ridden City, or balance the books? What are you implying Labour would do in Sheffield with such a large public service?

    And if you talk honestly and openly with the people of Hallam, then they will crush you because you represent nothing new, just the bad stuff that’s gone before. They’ll ask about a few things; Sheffield Airport, Don Valley/Student Games, Supertram and think… no thanks. Hallam may be in Sheffield, but it’s more akin to the Home Counties.

    Labour win be default in the rest of Sheffield, in other places you may have to try a bit harder. Oh and don’t mention “One Nation” to them, it’s cringe-worthy and utterly empty.

  11. uglyfatbloke says:

    What does it matter who wins? It’s in the north of England so it does n’t really mater to any of the three parties given their focus on London and the SE. Clegg will hold the seat, but much good it will do him. The glib-dumbs will lose half their seats in England and Wales and all of the Scottish ones except Ork & Shet…and maybe NE Fife in Ming Campbell stands again, but I imagine he will be going to the Lords anyway.

  12. Paul says:


    I’m a Labour party member living in Fulwood and I like a challenge, so if there is anything I can do I will try, as Nick Clegg is merely an extension to the Conservative party. Only in name are his values different, especially in economic terms, which are those of the Conservative party. This I realize is not because they are in coalition with right wing politics but was a fact before the 2010 general election.

    Take Care


  13. john zims says:

    ‘If we actively, honestly and openly talk to people in a place like Sheffield Hallam, we will find common goals across the community; saving the NHS, delivering an evidence based education policy, combating tax avoidance, building a fairer economy’

    So identical to the Lib Dems & Tories.

  14. Michele says:

    Well, we can either vote for Clegg ( knowing that what we’ll get is a man who cares less about Sheffield, rarely comes and has the integrity of a rat) or we can not vote (the counsel of despair) or we can think what can be done.

    You vote Lib Dem now and what you get is Tories by another name who have voted for the most atrocious policies. But, you know what, I don’t believe that that is what the people of Sheffield Hallam want at all. I suspect that that a lot of people have voted Lib Dem in the past , like I have, to make sure that we don’t let a Tory in.

    The time has come to consider what else we can do given the choice we have. The next party with any chance of getting in here is the Labour Party. So, I’m going to vote for them on exactly the same basis that I voted Lib Dem in the past to stop the ‘Tories’ getting in.

    I also take issue with the idea that only ‘poor’ people vote Labour or that there is a divide between those who work in manufacturing and those who work in the Public Sector as if the latter aren’t proper jobs.

    Don’t people who work in the Private Sector manufacturing need the support of the Public Sector doctors to cure them? or teachers to educate them? or universities to do research etc. The Private Sector would be unable to function without the Public Sector.

    Don’t people who work in the Public Sector pay taxes too?

  15. Norma says:

    We have to do what we can. We have to do all that we can to get rid of Clegg. Many of the students who voted for him have now left Sheffield – we must remind the ‘new” students to vote him out.

  16. Rebecca Bates says:

    Well whatever, first things first. Would you like some of us to help you win the next election? Don’t you think it would be a good idea to make sure that the Sheffield Labour Party website is working and easily accessible, so that people like me, who would like to help you try to win can offer their services.

  17. Ken says:

    I would like to echo Rebecca’s comment above. It is now mid-March and the website is still not working. How can this be possible?

  18. david says:

    the web site (sheffield labour party) does not work because they don’t care about it

  19. shirley frost says:

    Please dont try to win by banging on about immigration feeding all the lies being put out by tories and bigots
    And please dont bang on about austerity; its has been thoroughly discredited – its not working and there is an alternative

  20. ken says:

    Miliband in Scots ‘Home Rule’ pledge
    A “Home Rule Bill for Scotland” would be introduced within the first 100 days of a Labour government, according to the party’s leader.

    I have just seen the above on the BBC’s Website – when I think of all the time and effort we spent as a Nation and personally keeping our Scottish friends all together with us and here is Mr Milliband undermining that new future together as the UNITED Kingdom – it makes me see red !

    or rather as a lifelong Labour supporter it now makes me see BLUE

    what a disgrace I have withdrawn my support.


  21. Mrs Ann Rodgers says:

    I Live in Worrall And all the council in this area are Liberal Candidates so everyone round here seem t Vote Liberal . Nick Clegg is always doing surgeries in our village plus Stannington but I have never seen anyone from Labour come since Helen Jackson who was a good labour MP and really looked after her followers . So I cannot see a Labour Candidate getting in if he does not make an effort to come round all area’s .
    My E-Mail Address is: ann-rodgers@hotmail.com

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