Belfast Telegraph

Nick Clegg could lose Sheffield Hallam seat: Labour's plan to 'decapitate' Lib Dems at General Election is working

By Matt Dathan

Nick Clegg is in real danger of losing his seat at the election, according to the latest survey of marginal constituencies by pollster Lord Ashcroft.

The Deputy Prime Minister trails Labour by two points in his Sheffield Hallam constituency, but polling in some of the other Liberal Democrat battleground seats shows the party is in line to hold on to more seats than their abysmal poll ratings suggest.

Polling carried out between March 22-28 put Labour on 36 per cent of the vote in Mr Clegg's seat, with the Lib Dems behind on 34 per cent.

It would a humiliating way to end his five-year stint as Deputy Prime Minister and would leave the Liberal Democrats without a leader going into possible post-election Coalition negotiations.

It is a slimmer lead for Labour than Lord Ashcroft's last poll in Sheffield Hallam in November, when Mr Clegg trailed by three points, but with less than six weeks left until the election, it shows how much of a fight the Lib Dem leader faces to hold on to his seat.

Mr Clegg won Sheffield Hallam in 2010 with a 15,000 majority but the Labour candidate Oliver Coppard has exploited his broken promise not to increase tuition fees and his failure to save Forgemasters, a local steel works.

“It frustrates and angers me that he hasn’t done more for Sheffield, that he hasn’t stood up for Sheffield, considering the position he’s in,” Oliver Coppard, the Labour candidate, told The Independent. “He has let us down.”

Mr Clegg's team insists the polls are not reflective of what will happen on polling day because the poll questions did not include the candidates' names.

The poll disguises his real support, a spokesman for the Lib Dem leader said, and claimed there is much more support for Mr Clegg on the doorstep and acknowledgement of the sacrifices he has had to make in office than a simple party poll suggests.

However the language coming out of the Lib Dem camp clearly shows they have considered the prospect of a Michael Portillo-style moment.

“This is a fight between us and the Labour party; the winner of this seat will be either a Lib Dem or Labour,” one of Mr Clegg’s members of staff said. The team is “confident but not complacent,” and take comfort in their mantra that no MP should find it easy to win a seat.

Source: Independent

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Independent News Service


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