Welcome to the third, and final, part of my Sheffield Central election preview. Having already looked at the not-going-to-be-winners and the probably-not-going to be winners, this week I’m looking at the man who is likely walking off with the top prize.
The Probable Winner
Paul Blomfield is the incumbent MP, and Labour candidate. He holds one of his parties’ thinnest majorities at 154 and presided over a 23.1% loss of majority in his first general election. Seems like a possible lost Labour seat right? Let’s go through his challengers to see who might beat him:
- Communist, Pirate and Above and Beyond – don’t think even the candidates themselves think they will win
- Conservative – given the unpopularity of the Tories nationwide and the demographic of the seat (students, working class people and more students), Stephanie Roe will be doing well if she can match the 10% share the Tories usually get here.
- Liberal Democrats – in the 2014 council elections, the Lib Dems got an average of 11.7%. That is just over one quarter of what they got in the 2010 general election. Given that students can’t be arsed to get out of bed for the local elections, that isn’t even lost student votes, that is just lost votes. I think I may have been too optimistic giving Joe Otten a possible in this election
- Greens – Probably the most likely challenger to Paul Blomfield, the Greens were the clear second party in the local elections (30.52% to 42.12%), and the only party other than Labour to win council seats in the 5 constituency wards that make up Sheffield Central. However, they still have to gain 37% form their 2010 general election performance. If they pulled it off, it would be the single biggest increase ever in a general election.
For those still paying attention, Paul Blomfield in all likelihood is going to sleepwalk into his seat. According to electoralcalculus.com, he’s predicted to get 46.3% of the vote. Though I’m not sure how much I trust them as they have UKIP gaining 12% of the vote, and they aren’t even running a candidate in this constituency.
They are still probably correct though. The Lib Dems will lose votes this time around, the Tories haven’t got much of a look in, and the Greens could improve by 1000% percent and still possibly not get in . Even without looking at the advantages Mr Blomfield has, the disadvantages of every other party will probably gift him the seat.
Speaking of advantages, what does Mr Blomfield have? Well he has had 5 years to raise his profile, and has, so far, avoided any huge political cock-ups. Thanks to theyworkforyou.com, we can see that his voting record is pretty appealing to his left-leaning constituency (for an elected Lords, against tuition fees, against the bedroom tax etc.). His one major challenger last time around was basically kneecapped by the tuition fee saga, and his up-and-coming challenger needs to gain 15,582 votes cast to catch up with him.
Now those votes do exist. 28,000 people didn’t vote in Sheffield Central in 2010, easily enough to catch up with Labour. Fortunately for Labour, that was also the biggest turnout in 60-odd years and they still didn’t lose.
Another positive indication for Paul Blomfield, he’s just won a national award for higher education which was awarded through a popular vote. In other words, he’s just had a load of students vote for him and come out on top. Which is more or less what he needs to happen on May 7th.
Realistically, Paul Blomfield is highly likely to win; both the bookies and pollsters think so. The Greens simply have to jump through too many hoops to win, and any small pothole could send the whole campaign bus spinning for them.