Looking after their own means no Tory votes

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There was a time when Sheffield Hallam was a true blue safe Tory seat due to the high percentage of university-educated professionals living in that area.

These were natural Conservative voters and the MP, Sir John Osborne, was reelected with thumping majorities time after time. That was about 30 years ago.

Now, despite deep reservations about the Labour Party, and the Lib Dems in a state of chaos, the Tories still cannot win the seat. Why might this be?

The announcement that electrification of the Midland Main Line between Sheffield and London has been “paused” (in other words abandoned) comes as no surprise.

It had been promised when Sheffield MP Nick Clegg was in the cabinet,but now that the Tories have an overall majority they are at liberty to renege on their previous commitments and are wasting no time in doing so.

The confirmation that the electrification of the Great Western Line, serving smaller cities than Sheffield in the south and south west, will go ahead nevertheless, is even more galling.

After all, we pay our taxes and contribute to the state coffers. Why should Sheffield and its environs continually miss out on public investment?

It could get worse. The Government-commissioned Serpell Report actually recommended closing the Midland Main Line, along with most of the non-electrified network. The East Coast Main Line was intended to serve all conurbations east of the Pennines, probably on a park-and-ride basis, to be accessed from the nearest relevant station (Doncaster or Retford).

Obviously, if this part of the country lacks the infrastructure that other parts of Britain are blessed with, the likelihood is that the region’s economy will continue to fall farther behind that of its competitors.

All this talk of a “Northern Powerhouse” is starting to sound rather hollow. It is difficult to escape the perception that the Conservatives care little for the post-industrial areas of South Yorkshire and the North Midlands, and that this region will repeatedly get overlooked as long as they are in power, in favour of the Tory heartlands further south. Looking after your own, so to speak.

It is hardly surprising, therefore, that Mr Cameron’s party struggles to pick up votes in this neck of the woods. Turkeys don’t vote for Christmas.

NP Johnson