Sheffield Hallam’s Tory PPC resigns after just 10 days!
It hasn’t been good being a Conservative in Sheffield Hallam for many years. Not only have they failed to make any significant progress in a General Election since they lost what was once one of their safest parliamentary seats back in 1997, but since then Nick Clegg has consolidated the party’s hold on the seat. He continues to work hard and stand up for local residents in parliament, and now has an even higher profile as party leader which was always going to make it difficult for the Conservatives to make progress. But even worse was to come when the Conservatives lost their last remaining councillor in the constituency in 2008 – an achievement which which I am proud to have played a large part in as constituency campaign organiser. This is the first time there haven’t been any Conservatives on the council in Sheffield since at least the 1870s.
After years 0f dithering, whilst any keen activists they had followed their former PPC Spencer Pitfield to the new Penistone & Stocksbridge seat, earlier this month the Conservatives finally selected a PPC in Daniel Gage. Despite starting off in a blaze of publicity saying how he’d moved to the seat and how he was working in a local pub and apparently receiving a warm welcome from local residents, the campaign has already come to a shuddering halt.
First, was the news that he had been kicked off Dronfield Town Council in Derbyshire for non-attendance, which he had good grace to admit was “obviously not the best timing”, but now after just 10 days he has been forced to resign as PPC too. It seems as though the local Conservatives didn’t take kindly to the bad publicity and there are allegations that the resignation letter was written for him and he was made him sign. He is now threatening to run as an Independent.
OK, so the Conservatives don’t stand a cat in hells chance of winning back Sheffield Hallam any time soon – they would have had to start campaigning and delivering leaflets to even start thinking about that one – but being back to having no PPC only around six months from a General Election and facing a long drawn out dispute about whether their candidate resigned or was pushed, is certainly not going to improve their chances.
Nick Clegg will be smiling today.