Tories sitting pretty as Clegg suffers

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From: Owen Grey

2nd Year University of Sheffield student, studying International History and International Politics BA.

On Thursday May 5, the electorate dealt a damaging blow to Nick Clegg’s Lib Dem city councillors in Sheffield.

The rout cost the Liberal Democrats nine councillors and Paul Scriven’s job as leader of the city council.

The result for Labour gave them nine more councillors and control over Sheffield, a result which many argue was foreseeable.

There is no doubt about it; the result was disastrous for Nick Clegg. The result has sparked the question as to whether Nick Clegg can keep hold of his Sheffield Hallam seat at the next election.

2015 is still a long way off but the unpopularity of the Liberal Democrat part in the coalition has given the party the worst local election result in their history. It is hardly surprising that Mr Clegg has toughened his stance and promised to stand up to the Tories in government.

He has pledged to block the new NHS reforms if significant changes are not made. He has also promised to show the country that the Liberal Democrats will be the ‘moderating influence on the Conservatives’, but is it all too late? Will the voters, especially in Sheffield Hallam, still vote for Nick Clegg MP?

The Conservatives sit in a pretty comfortable position. They can pick Nick Clegg up when they need him and throw him down when they don’t. Nick Clegg still needs David Cameron and senior government Tories to listen to him, to understand him and to back him in the coalition government. If they don’t, Nick Clegg will be powerless in government and helpless as Lib Dem Leader when voters start going to the Polls again. He will be seen as a Tory in a yellow coat, ‘one of them instead of one of us’, voters will cry. If Mr Clegg wants to survive in four years’ time, he has to ‘go for his career’.

My reckoning is this; Nick Clegg has only one solution. If he wants to improve the prospect of retaining his seat at the next election and salvaging his political career, he needs to step away from Dave and reconnect with his party, especially if he is to maintain his control over Cable, Hughes and Huhne. Whether the coalition will survive the full term will still be greatly debated, we simply cannot predict the issues that will arise over the next four years, but Nick Clegg has a better chance of retaining his vote in Sheffield if he distances himself from the Conservatives.

The Labour Party will naturally throw everything they can into Sheffield Hallam in order to totally humiliate Nick Clegg. The battle at the next election will be a tense, aggressive and dirty one. All eyes will be on Sheffield Hallam. If he loses, ALL his credibility as a party leader will be gone.

One thing’s for sure, the Conservatives have successfully out-manoeuvred the Liberal Democrats and made them the culprits for everything that goes wrong...well done, Mr Cameron?