General ejection: Deputy Prime Minister Clegg set to lose seat, poll indicates
The Liberal Democrat leader has brushed aside reports he may fail to win the vote in the former party safe seat of Sheffield Hallam.
A poll by Lord Ashcroft found Clegg trails two points behind his Labour rival, Oliver Coppard.
Nationwide polls predict the Liberal Democrats will win just nine percent of the vote, a major drop from the 23 percent gain made in the 2010 general election.
The battle for Sheffield Hallam will see Clegg in a tight race against Labour’s prospective parliamentary candidate (PPC).
Lord Ashcroft’s poll shows Clegg is predicted to win 34 percent of the vote, while Coppard is on track to gain 36 percent.
While Coppard is new to politics, he worked on US President Barack Obama’s re-election campaign in 2012.
— Dr Andrew Timming (@oliventis) April 1, 2015
He told the New Statesmen his experience in America taught him “the only thing you have the same as your opponents is your time – it’s about who uses it better.”
Labour insiders are optimistic the party can snatch Clegg’s seat in the general election, largely due to his supposed legacy of betrayal.
Tom Watson MP, Labour leader Ed Miliband's former election coordinator, said: “This seat is winnable for Labour. I have never encountered such animosity on the doorstep against an incumbent MP – particularly one as high-profile.
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“There are two issues that come up time and again: his position on tuition fees and Sheffield Forgemasters, which has not been forgotten.”
Students make up 17.3 percent of the electorate in Sheffield Hallam, meaning their vote could determine whether Clegg is returned to Parliament.
The deputy prime minister became a figure of ridicule among UK students when he backtracked on his campaign pledge not to increase tuition fees.
Clegg also came under fire in his constituency for failing to secure a government loan for a local nuclear power business, Sheffield Forgemasters.
The Lib Dem leader won a 53.4-percent majority in the 2010 election and a similar proportion of the vote in 2005.
Nicola Bates, the Conservative Party parliamentary candidate in 2010, came second winning 23 percent of the vote.
Clegg has brushed off suggestions he will not be returned to Parliament after the election in May.
A spokesperson for the deputy PM said: “We are never complacent, we don't take any votes for granted but we are confident on winning because Nick's been the local MP there for ten years, he's got a record in Sheffield that we are happy to defend and his constituents appreciate.”
“Nick is extremely well known in Sheffield Hallam, and hugely well respected. He has a large personal vote and has delivered consistently over the last 10 years. Labour are talking a good game but they seem to be measuring the curtains already when they are not going to be successful,” they added.