Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg’s tuition fees U-turn could harm the Sheffield MP’s election hopes, experts have said.
Dr Andy Price, head of politics at Sheffield Hallam University, said Labour are gaining popularity in Mr Clegg’s Sheffield Hallam constituency because of the ‘major issue’ of tuition fees.
But he said he would still be surprised if Labour candidate Oliver Coppard can gain enough support to beat the Liberal Democrat leader on Thursday, May 7.
Dr Price said: “For the first time ever Labour are close. Why is that? Well there’s one major issue – it’s Clegg on fees. The whole experience of the about-turn on fees, of the Lib Dems in the coalition has allowed Labour to catch-up.”
Prior to the 2010 general election, Mr Clegg pledged to scrap tuition fees.
However, once in coalition government with the Conservative, he backed plans to raise them.
The whole experience of the about-turn on fees, the whole experience of the Lib Dems in the coalition has opened the door to allow Labour to catch-up.Dr Andy Price, head of politics at Sheffield Hallam University
Dr Price said: “It’s a fascinating constituency because we’ve this affluent citizens base, but it’s a constituency that’s left-leaning, alternative, in terms of its cultural outlook.”
“Labour has never targeted Sheffield Hallam. Even this time around, they’re not targeting Sheffield Hallam. Despite having a good local candidate who’s active, HQ still aren’t throwing money behind this.
“I see it as difficult for Labour to overturn what is, essentially, more than a century of non-Labour voting.”
But Mr Coppard said: “What we’re seeing is people understanding Labour can win here.
“People will be voting against Mr Clegg, there’s no doubt about that, but we’re hoping to offer a better alternative and a positive alternative to Mr Clegg too.”
Mr Clegg, who has held the seat since 2005, said: “I’m looking forward to the campaign. I’m confident people will reject Labour’s plans for more reckless borrowing, and vote for the stronger economy and fairer society only the Liberal Democrats can deliver for Sheffield.”
* Other news:
http://www.thestar.co.uk/news/local/more-than-650-child-sexual-exploitation-referrals-to-south-yorkshire-police-in-under-a-year-1-7170140|More than 650 child sexual exploitation referra;s to South Yorkshire police in under a year|click here}