Sheffield Central – The Aftermath

Let’s get the elephant out of the room straight away – last nights election result was an absolute blindside. Not one poll suggested close to a majority one the eve and fair play to the Tory party for managing to completely turn that on it’s head. To say that this is a dream scenario for them is understating it – they have the control of the Commons, lost no seats to UKIP, saw their coalition partner utterly crushed and their three main opposition parties are all facing the prospect of internal struggles over leadership. The one blip on the landscape is the surge of SNP support. Realistically, the Tories could do nothing about this, relying on the other unionist parties to stem the tide. Even in this worst case of scenarios in Scotland, they have a potential ace up their sleeve. They’ve been proposing one of the few solutions that might fly both in Holyrood and Westminster – a more federalised United Kingdom – for a while now. Overall, this is a wildly successful night nationally for the Tories.
But what about locally? Who is going to be celebrating their performance? And who will be drowning their sorrows? First up, the Communists (6th) and the Workers Revolutionary (10th). None of them were forecast to be popular and none of them were. Frankly, I don’t think they care. As I said in my previous posts, the Far Left have consistently ran in Sheffield Central, achieved next to nothing and continued doing so anyway.

Finishing 9th was Thom Brown of Above and Beyond, with 0.1% of votes. Now I’m sure Thom would have liked to see his message of electoral reform being taken up more widely, but I’m sure he’ll feel vindicated in his position nonetheless. Turnout fell this election and the winner once again did not get over 50% of the total electorate, thought they did at least get over 50% of the votes cast. Nationally, Thom, and his Above and Beyond party, will have plenty of allies for electoral reform. The Greens, UKIP and even the Lib Dems have won vastly less seats than their national percentage suggests they should have. 22% of votes should not result in 10 combined seats.

Elizabeth Breed of the English Democrats finished 8th with 0.2% of the votes. Unsurprising. What is surprising is that there was once a point where the English Democrats had an elected mayor and some councillors. Strategically, they need to focus in on any areas they are remotely successful and try to regain any foothold they had. Not that I think they’ll do that – much more likely they stay as a walking punchline.

Andy Halsall is the final minor placer finishing just behind the Communists in 7th with 0.3% of votes cast. Whilst the low votes were expected, the fact remains the majority of the Pirates flagship areas were not talking points in the election. As even their leader admits they only run to raise awareness, the lack of discussion must be disappointing.

Having been as courteous as possible to all the minor candidates, who should all be applauded for standing and never really had a hope so there’s no point being mean, I can move onto the bigger guns. And possibly be more mean.
In 6th place, UKIP’s Dominic Cook with 7.5%, up nearly 6% from last time. Weirdly, UKIP’s brand of ‘blame the EU’ and ‘pine for the Empire’ didn’t go down that well in a constituency of mostly leftie students. Shocker.
In less of a shocker, the student could have sledgehammered the local Lib Dem office and done less damage. Minus 31% and a drop to behind the Tories?!? Might as well have campaigned in bondage gear, couldn’t have gone worse. Joe Otten is a first time candidate and will probably have learnt a lot but frankly the Lib Dems sealed his fate five years ago. Lesson one for the post mortem: do not piss off a large core group of your voters, it tends to end badly.

Stephanie Roe came 3rd with an amount of votes, and a gain that’s numerically small but reasonably important. I’ve heard nothing from the Tory campaign locally, not one sign or tweet, and their vote still went up! In a seat that is as loony left as the Tories could imagine. That in a nutshell is why Labour lost nationally: even when they did well, they didn’t hurt the Tories. Instead they joined in the puppy kicking that was the Lib Dems evening.

In second place, as I predicted in my preview post, Jilian Creasy of the Greens with a 12% gain to just under 16%. Not that it was that hard a prediction: students hate UKIP, the Tories haven’t topped 12% in years and the Lib Dems have been losing votes like the 70s have been losing likeable DJs – quite frankly someone had to come second. Not that it’s a poor achievement, a solid second is pretty much best case scenario. Along with a gained council seat, the Greens are now pretty obviously the main opposition to Labour in Sheffield Central. Whether they progress from this will be the story of the next five years.
And finally our winner, Labour’s Paul Blomfield with a clear win with over half the votes cast. In what must one of the weirder swings for Labour of the evening, Blomfield’s majority grew a thousandfold to 17,000. Put in perspective, his majority is more than the total votes for the next three candidates. Absolute baller. And vindicating my previous thoughts that Labour would probably romp to victory here.

Overall, a fairly predictable outcome. Sure, Lib Dems fell by more than expected, Tories made a surprising increase and pleasingly, UKIP’s overly nationalistic fearmongering was rejected. On the other hand, I basically called this ages ago with Wikipedia and gut feelings as my guide. More excitement next time please.

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