In part one, I looked at how past Sheffield Central elections have gone, and took a look at some of the candidates who will be propping up the league table on May 7th. Now onto part two, where I look at the two candidates who will probably divide up the minor medal places.
The Improbable Winners
Joe Otten is the candidate for the Liberal Democrats. He currently serves as a councillor for Dore and Totley. His election hopes were likely been snuffed out by a decision he had very little, if anything, to do with that happened half a decade ago. In 2010, the Lib Dems nearly pulled off a historic gain but fell just short, in large part to a substantial student vote. Surprisingly, students didn’t really enjoy a tripling of tuition fees and their support amongst students is at 6%.
Now if you’re not a student, you’ll find it difficult to understand quite how angry the majority of us are with the Lib Dems. To give some perspective, the University Arms, in Sheffield, has been threatened with closure as part of a campus wide development scheme. A petition was started to save it, and no one really cared.
When you get one of the most alcohol fueled populations to stop caring about a pub, then you know you’ve messed up pretty badly. On the ‘How Bad Was Your Idea?’ Scale, it probably fits between ‘Invading Russia in the Winter’ and ‘Tweeting a Picture of Your Genitalia to a Popular Blogger‘.
Mr Otten might be the nicest human being in the world, and have fantastic ideas to change the world. But I can’t see him getting past the student desire to shaft the Lib Dems as hard as possible. Nor can the bookies.
Jilian Creasy is the candidate for the Green Party and has lots of reasons to be optimistic. She is currently a councillor for Sheffield Central ward (one of 5 wards in the Sheffield Central constituency) and the leader of the Green group on Sheffield City Council. She was the first Green councillor in Sheffield, and has been on the council since 2004. The #GreenSurge has actually occurred in Sheffield Central, doubling their amount of councillors on Sheffield City Council. And on top of all that, Sheffield Central is one of the Green’s top target seats.
Given all the positives, why is she only a possible, not probable, winner? Firstly, she’s running against a reasonably well-liked incumbent, who already has an advantage of four years of higher profile to help him. Secondly, the Greens will be trying to take a seat from a previous 4th place, which has only ever been done twice in the history of the House of Commons.
Thirdly, having over a quarter of the councillors is nice, but the Greens support is pretty concentrated within Sheffield Central. They have 3 councillors in Central ward and 1in Broomhill; but were a fairly distant 2nd place in Manor Castle, Nether Edge and Walkley. In the 2014 local elections, the Greens won 8654 votes, or 30.52%. Whilst this is a nice chunk, local election figures for small parties can be misleading. Turnouts are smaller (average of 34.62% compared to 59.6% in 2010) and the electorate are less interested meaning a small determined party, like the Greens, can bat above their average. In general elections, turnouts are bigger, and the extra voters tend to vote less adventurously (i.e. Labour or Tory). For some perspective, Mrs Creasy won 3.8% of the vote in 2010. Even with the Green’s boost in recent years, can they jump 37% to catch Labour?
If the Greens were to make the leap, then they would need the support of Sheffield Central’s students (the largest proportion in the entire country). Alas, the Greens have only 14% nationally, compared to Labour on 43%. As much as I’d like to say the Greens have a realistic chance come May, I just don’t see it.