On the voters’ doorstep in Sheffield Hallam

Oliver Coppard, Labour candidate for Hallam, canvassing in Crookes.
Oliver Coppard, Labour candidate for Hallam, canvassing in Crookes.
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Doors slammed in the face and endless trudging of Sheffield’s hilly roads - welcome to the brutal job of the political canvasser.

Residents across the city will be becoming used to the sight of party supporters arriving on their doorstep in the final countdown to next May’s general election.

The Star joined Labour campaigners in Crookes to see what voters really thought in a ward which will have the eyes of the country on it next year - as Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg currently holds the seat.

It is 3pm on a Saturday afternoon but at many homes there is no answer to Oliver Coppard, the party’s candidate for Sheffield Hallam, and his team.

Some students do at least come to the door, even if it is in their pajamas, and know how they will be voting because of the U-turn on university fees.

“Nick Clegg isn’t very popular with students around here”, says one PhD student on Tasker Road.

“I don’t know very much about politics, but that is one of the things I do know.”

One non-student, a woman living on Eyam Road, voted for the Liberal Democrats last time but is now discenchanted.

She adds: “I bet the other candidates will have a good chance.

“To be honest I think my cat would beat Nick Clegg at the moment.”

At this stage camapigners are gauging where the support is - and isn’t - for future visits in their election war plan.

Vicious dogs are joked about but more realistically the main concern is so few people answering the door.

Other householders turn the group away with a flat ‘not interested’ or mumbled excuses about having dinner.

But for those who do answer hot topics include the NHS - and local roads.

One tactical voter said she backed Nick Clegg last time to keep out the Conservatives.

She tells Coppard: “My concern about voting for you is because of the local Labour party in Sheffield - I haven’t got time for them at all.

“If you look at the road out there that’s been done thanks to Nick Clegg getting the money for the roads.”

When she is told that Labour councillors have worked on the road scheme and offered more information, she added: “It is a waste of paper.

“If you give me that it will only go straight in the bin.”

Mum Sue Harrison, of Crookes, is part of the campaign team and had a door shut in her face.

The-66-year-old said: “It doesn’t happen very often! People are usually very polite.

“The Anne Murphy campaign before the local election was great because she won Crookes from the Liberal Democrats, against the grain to some extent, and I’m sure that was in part because of the door knocking.

“I think there are a lot of people still undecided this time.”

Campaigners head out on the trail most Saturdays and Mondays, and say the hope of a victory is what keeps them going through darkness, rain and the occasional angry voter.

Student Dom Trendall, and also of Crookes, is part of the team.

The 20-year-old said: “It’s not always fun, but it is worth it.

“It can be a lot of hard work but it is nice when the result comes in and you think ‘I made a difference’.”

Whether enough of a difference is made to change the election result next year remains to be seen.