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Sheffield Hallam Election Battle 2015 - Lib Dems Go to War Whilst Labour Sleeps

ElectionOracle / Sheffield Mar 27, 2015 - 05:54 AM GMT

By: Nadeem_Walayat

ElectionOracle

Opinion polls continue to paint a picture of a literal Lib Dem electoral blood bath, which according to several mainstream press analysts could see a loss of as many as 36 MP's to an abysmal tally of 20-24 MP's. For instance the New statements May2015.com is currently forecasting 24 seats for the Lib Dems.


This has prompted continuing speculation that Nick Clegg, the Lib Dem leader could lose his Sheffield seat as suggested by polling by Lord Ashcroft that concludes that Labour looks set to win the Sheffield Hallam seat:

The upshot is that in Sheffield Hallam, rather than having a three-point lead Nick Clegg should have been three points behind Labour:

LAB 30%, LDEM 27%, CON 19%, UKIP 13%, GRN 10%.

Which was further confirmed by a subsequent Survation poll that put Lib Dems 10 points behind Labour in Sheffield Hallam.

However, my analysis of 25th Feb concluded that probability favours Nick Clegg holding onto his seat with a much reduced majority:

25 Feb 2015 - Liberal Democrat Election Blood Bath - Could Nick Clegg Lose Sheffield Hallam?

Could Nick Clegg Lose Sheffield Hallam?

Desperate door stepping Liberal Democrat activists have already been busy for some weeks stuffing letter boxes full of leaflets of Nick Clegg's Hallam constituency, and more recently ramping up the intensity by knocking on doors, asking people for their vote for their 'Dear Leader'. Whenever the Lib Dem / Tory coalition is brought up then assurances are made that such an outcome will never happen again, Its Labour that the Liberal Democrats seek to coalition with. In fact the impression the activists give is that they are not even in a coalition with the Tories, as if voters are that stupid.

At the last election Nick Clegg won the seat on a comfortable majority of 15,284, with more than 50% of the vote, thus making is inconceivable at the time that the seat could be lost no matter how disastrous subsequent Lib-Dem actions were.

Sheffield Hallam Constituency 2010 Election Result

Party Candidate Votes %
Liberal Democrat Nick Clegg
27,324
53.4
Conservative Nicola Bates
12,040
23.5
Labour Jack Scott
8,228
16.1
UKIP Nigel James
1,195
2.3
Green Steve Barnard
919
1.8
English Democrats David Wildgoose
586
1.1

 

Still 5 years of betrayals on what was for many years seen as the unthinkable is now thinkable that the Liberal Democrats could now lose their party leader at the May 2015 election.

However given the 2010 voting structure that placed Labour on a distant third on just 8,200 votes means that even if the Liberal Democrats lost 1/3rd of their votes to Labour, then Labour would still be just short of winning the seat. Which implies that to unseat Nick Clegg then a significant amount of tactical voting is likely to take place of Conservative voters holding their noses and voting Labour so as to deny the Liberal Democrats a victory. Whilst it is unlikely that more than 10% of Hallam's Conservative voters would entertain such an action, still a 10% swing to Labour could just be enough to achieve such an outcome.

Though against this we have the fact that Sheffield Hallam has NEVER ever elected a Labour MP, not once and for most of the past 100 years the Hallam constituency has voted Conservative which begs the question could the Conservatives win the seat? However the Tories face two significant problems -

1. UKIP are likely to take 1,000 to 2,000 potential Conservative voters.

2. Any potential Liberal Democrat drift to the Conservatives is likely to be far less than drift to Labour as a consequence of a drop in the Conservatives national share of the vote on the 2010 election.

Therefore the Nick Clegg losing is not just dependant upon deserting voters and tactical voters but disgusted life-long Liberal Democrat core voters just not turning out to vote that could result in 15% fewer Lib Dem votes totaling approx 4,000.

Therefore Sheffield Hallam could result in a close three party race as illustrated by the following number crunching conclusion that lists Labour with the advantage and the Liberal Democrats trailing in third place which means that it is possible that Nick Clegg could lose the Sheffield Hallam seat.

The more probable outcome is likely to be the Lib-Dems retaining 6-10 more MP's than the 22 disaster polls suggests. Therefore my conclusion is that the LIberal Democrats are targeting retaining at least 30 seats and possibly as many as 35 seats which would still mean a near 50% loss of 26 MP's and it remains to be seen if Nick Clegg will be one of those lucky additional MP's. The Sheffield Hallam result will likely to be a close call, probably resulting in a majority of less than 2000.

Sheffield Hallam - LIb Dems Go to War

The last 4 weeks have seen the Liberal Democrats literally go to war in terms of intensity of campaigning in the Sheffield Hallam constituency which includes near weekly door stepping of asking voters for their vote in the face of the local threat from Labour and a literal deluge of leaflets now numbering a dozen stuffed through local letter boxes, with I am sure much intelligence gleaned on where individual resident voters stand. Even the deputy Prime Minister, Nick Clegg has been busy inviting local residents to Q&A meetings. All this whilst not even a murmur out of the local Labour camp, who apparently remain asleep that suggests Labour is occupied elsewhere trying to reinforce their own seats against threats from UKIP and the Greens amongst others.

Lib Dems Capitalising on Local Issues

The Lib Dems have been smart in picking up on a number of local issues that could reinforce the Lib Dem vote, such as that which surrounds the expansion of Dobcroft Infants School that some 450 parents and local residents have petitioned against to the Sheffield city council.

Against the valuable local school issue of 450 voters, Nick Clegg has to contend with the loss of his former highly vocal fan club, the students (and their parents) who feel betrayed after Nick Clegg went back on an election pledge on tuition fees as illustrated by the following video:

However the trend to date of an highly intelligent and well organised and financed local Lib Dem campaign reinforces my earlier expectations for Nick Clegg to retain his Sheffield Hallam seat. Which given the weak Labour response to date suggests that Labours own private polling has concluded that it is just not worth wasting resources on trying to win. This implies that Nick Clegg could do much better than winning by 2,000 votes as I had originally envisioned a month ago, but instead now looks set to achieve a far more substantial majority of around 5,000 votes, which is contrary to the opinion polls that put the Lib Dems 10% behind Labour in Sheffield Hallam (Survation - LAB 33%, LD 23%, CON 22%, GREEN 12%, UKIP 9%).

So the trend is strongly in the Lib Dems favour, however it remains to be seen if the Lib Dems run out of steam and money in the last few weeks of the election campaign, especially as the Conservatives have a far deeper war chest.

Election Forecast 2015

This also reinforces the conclusion of my analysis of 28th Feb that the Liberal Democrats nationally are going to do much better than the opinion polls suggest i.e. achieve a minimum of 30 seats and probably awake on May 8th with a tally near 35 MP's, as resources are being intelligently concentrated on those 35-40 most winnable seats, whilst the rest are effectively being abandoned. Which is set against current mainstream press seats forecast range of 20-24 seats.

UK General Election May 2015 Forecast Conclusion

My forecast conclusion is for the Conservatives to win 296 seats at the May 7th general election, Labour 2nd on 262 seats, with the full seats per political party breakdown as follows:

Therefore the most probable outcome is for a continuation of the ConDem Coalition government on 326 seats (296+30) where any shortfall would likely find support from the DUP's 8 seats.

The alternative is for a truly messy Lab-Lib SNP supported chaotic government on 327 seats (262+30+35) which in my opinion would be a truly disastrous outcome for Britain, nearly as bad as if Scotland had voted for independence last September.

Another possibility is that should the Conservatives do better than forecast i.e. secure over 300 seats but still fail to win an overall majority, then they may chose to go it alone with the plan to work towards winning a May 2016 general election.

The bottom line is that the opinion polls do not reflect how people will actually vote on May 7th when they are faced with a stark choice of steady as she goes ConDem government or take a huge gamble on Ed Milliband's Labour party. So in my opinion several millions of voters will chose to play it safe with ConDem which thus is the most probable outcome.

Also available a youtube video version of my forecast:

Ensure you are subscribed to my always free newsletter for in-depth analysis and detailed trend forecast delivered to your email in box.

By Nadeem Walayat

http://www.marketoracle.co.uk

Copyright © 2005-2015 Marketoracle.co.uk (Market Oracle Ltd). All rights reserved.

Nadeem Walayat has over 25 years experience of trading derivatives, portfolio management and analysing the financial markets, including one of few who both anticipated and Beat the 1987 Crash. Nadeem's forward looking analysis focuses on UK inflation, economy, interest rates and housing market. He is the author of five ebook's in the The Inflation Mega-Trend and Stocks Stealth Bull Market series that can be downloaded for Free.

Housing Markets Forecast 2014-2018The Stocks Stealth Bull Market 2013 and Beyond EbookThe Stocks Stealth Bull Market Update 2011 EbookThe Interest Rate Mega-Trend EbookThe Inflation Mega-trend Ebook

Nadeem is the Editor of The Market Oracle, a FREE Daily Financial Markets Analysis & Forecasting online publication that presents in-depth analysis from over 1000 experienced analysts on a range of views of the probable direction of the financial markets, thus enabling our readers to arrive at an informed opinion on future market direction. http://www.marketoracle.co.uk

Disclaimer: The above is a matter of opinion provided for general information purposes only and is not intended as investment advice. Information and analysis above are derived from sources and utilising methods believed to be reliable, but we cannot accept responsibility for any trading losses you may incur as a result of this analysis. Individuals should consult with their personal financial advisors before engaging in any trading activities.

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