Poll reveals Clegg could lose his Yorkshire seat in 2015 election

PRESSURE ON Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg has intensified after a leaked poll revealed he stands to lose his Sheffield constituency in next year’s general election.

Nick Clegg talks to youngsters as he helps to launch a scheme to give 16 and 17-year-olds access to work coaches

The Liberal Democrat leader’s main opponent in the race, Labour candidate Oliver Coppard, said the party’s wipeout in last week’s European was proof his campaign is “gaining ground”.

The fact that Mr Clegg’s party lost out to Labour in the council ward of Crookes, which falls within the boundaries for Sheffield Hallam, in last week’s local elections, has been held up as further evidence of the MP’s growing vulnerability in his own back yard.

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The damning verdict comes as an ICM poll, commissioned by a Lib Dem supporter, put support for the party in Hallam behind Labour and the Conservatives if a general election were held tomorrow. The results led to fresh calls for his resignation from his role as party leader.

A win from Mr Coppard next May would represent a landmark victory for his party. In the last general election, Labour only managed third place with just 16.1 per cent of the votes – with the Lib Dems on 53.4 per cent.

Mr Coppard, from Sheffield, told The Yorkshire Post: “I have always said it is winnable. We are making a real go of this campaign and support is growing.”

The 33-year-old said voters in Sheffield Hallam, which boasts one of the lowest rates of child poverty in the country, were dismayed at the policies the Lib Dems had implemented since forming a coalition with the Tory party.

Mr Coppard said: “I do not have a personal vendetta against Nick Clegg, but what I hear from the people of Sheffield time and time again is ‘he has let us down’.

“The people who voted for him did not vote for a Tory government. When you go out and speak to people on the doorstep you understand the depth of feeling.”

The leaked poll may have offered Labour a fresh vote of confidence, but further analysis of how Hallam voted in the European elections still makes an ousting of Mr Clegg difficult. The Lib Dems secured 38.7 per cent of the vote across the constituency, where Labour managed 23.6 per cent and the Tories came fifth.

Earlier this year speculation mounted over whether UKIP leader Nigel Farage might stand as an MP in Hallam next May, but he was quick to quash rumours yesterday, telling BBC News he intended to stand ‘south of the river’.

When The Yorkshire Post contacted a spokeswoman for the party, which secured three Yorkshire MEPs at European elections, she was unable to confirm whether a candidate had been selected to run in the constituency in the general election.

The Sheffield branch of the Conservatives have yet to appoint a candidate, but the party’s regional spokesman said there was ‘no question’ of whether a member would fight for the seat.

Former chairman of Sheffield Conservatives Spencer Pitfield said: “We will be fighting in Sheffield Hallam just like we are fighting for every seat across the country.

“In parliamentary politics there is no such thing as a safe seat.

“I think Mr Clegg and other seats across the UK will be vulnerable. A candidate will be appointed in due course.”

A spokesman for Mr Clegg said: ““We have no idea where this polling comes from but it has clearly been commissioned and leaked for political purposes.”

Lib Dem sources have suggested Lord Oakeshott, a friend of Business Secretary Vince Cable, commissioned the Sheffield Hallam polling that was leaked to the Guardian.

Mr Cable insisted yesterday there was “no leadership issue” and praised Mr Clegg’s stand on Europe.

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