Sheffield lad to fight Clegg for Hallam seat

Oliver Coppard with Sheffield Hallam members at the hustings in Sheffield on 24/6/13 after being selected as Labour candidate to stand against Nick Clegg at the general election
Oliver Coppard with Sheffield Hallam members at the hustings in Sheffield on 24/6/13 after being selected as Labour candidate to stand against Nick Clegg at the general election
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A born-and-bred Sheffielder who will take on Nick Clegg in the next election has accused the Deputy Prime Minister of ‘damaging’ his adopted city.

Political knives were out as Oliver Coppard was named the candidate to run for the Sheffield Hallam seat in the first vote since the coalition was formed.

For the past 16 years, the Liberal Democrats have secured a majority in the constituency - one of the most affluent in the UK - covering Crookes, Dore, Totley, Ecclesall, Fulwood and Stannington.

It has not returned a Labour MP since the first election in 1885, but former High Storrs pupil Mr Coppard has shown he is up for the fight after being picked by members.

He said: “It is a challenge, don’t get me wrong. He has a huge majority but I would not have taken up the opportunity if I didn’t think we could win. You can sense the strength of feeling at the moment that there is no love lost for Nick Clegg.

“People in Sheffield Hallam care passionately about the NHS, our education system and the economy – I share their values and share their concerns.

“This is where I was born and brought up. I’ve been getting out on people’s doorsteps but being from here and living here I get people’s views chatting down the pub or with friends and family.

Mr Coppard currently works as a leader for Dearne Valley Eco Vision project, which is developing a low-carbon economy in ex-mining communities, but prior to that he worked at the US Congress as an adviser for the Democratic Party.

The politics graduate has vowed to dedicate the next two years to canvassing in the constituency, which has a population of over 80,000, to win support for Labour.

He added: “I’ve always been in and around politics, I was out delivering leaflets with my dad when I was six.

“I can’t and won’t stand by and watch Nick Clegg continue to inflict so much damage on the city I love, so I’m going to be working hard over the next two years – with people right across the constituency – to show people we have a real and positive alternative.”

There has been much speculation over whether Mr Clegg will defend his seat in the next election, likely to be in 2015. Speaking about his plans, Mr Clegg said: “I will be MP for Sheffield Hallam and leader of the Liberal Democrats.”