Petition urges Sheffield’s Nick Clegg to debate with rival

Prospective Labour candidate Oliver Coppard
Prospective Labour candidate Oliver Coppard

A petition calling for Nick Clegg to take part in a public debate with his main election rival has been launched.

The Sheffield Hallam MP has been asked by Labour candidate Oliver Coppard to debate three times but did not answer.

Prospective Labour cndidate Oliver Coppard (right) has launched his request for a debate with MP Nick Clegg (left)

Prospective Labour cndidate Oliver Coppard (right) has launched his request for a debate with MP Nick Clegg (left)

Now Mr Coppard has set up a petition which he hopes 1,000 people will sign in an attempt to secure a showdown before the general election in May.

Mr Coppard told The Star: “I have challenged Nick Clegg three times to a debate, twice in writing and once by email, and had no response. So this is the way in which we are trying to get his attention.”

Last November campaign group 38 degrees asked Mr Clegg to a Sheffield public meeting on the so-called ‘gagging law’ but he did not attend in person.

Mr Coppard added: “I know he is a busy man, and I will go wherever, whenever to debate so people can have an opportunity to see it - I think he simply does not want to defend his record.

“He was incredibly keen to debate with Nigel Farage before the last election because it was on television.

“He has to remember he is the MP for Sheffield Hallam and has to put Sheffield first - simply he is not doing enough and can’t be bothered to have a debate despite the fact he is in real danger of losing his seat.”

A spokesman for Mr Clegg suggested it was unlikely the head-to-head would take place.

She added: “I think it’s more likely he will debate Ed Miliband rather than Ed Miliband’s candidate in Sheffield Hallam.

“Nick’s focus will be on engaging directly with the voters of Sheffield Hallam, as he has done for well over a decade, rather than with machine Labour politicians backed by big trade union money,

“While Labour launch petitions designed to score meaningless political points, Nick Clegg has successfully collected huge petitions on real issues such as keeping local roads gritted or local libraries open, both of which have delivered campaign successes and real benefits to local residents.”