Sheffield, Brightside & Hillsborough

2015 Result:
Conservative: 4407 (11%)
Labour: 22663 (56.6%)
Lib Dem: 1802 (4.5%)
Green: 1712 (4.3%)
UKIP: 8856 (22.1%)
TUSC: 442 (1.1%)
Others: 171 (0.4%)
MAJORITY: 13807 (34.5%)

Category: Very safe Labour seat

Geography: Yorkshire and the Humber, South Yorkshire. Part of the Sheffield council area.

Main population centres: Sheffield.

Profile: This is the most working class of the Sheffield seats, and generally suffers from the highest levels of unemployment in the city. It is made up mostly of the inter-war and post-war housing estates like the huge Shiregreen and Parson Cross developments. While right-to-buy has reduced the proportion of council homes, over a third of the housing remains in the social sector. The constituency includes Hillsborough stadium, home to Sheffield Wednesday but perhaps more immediately associated with the 1989 stadium disaster.

Politics: A falling electorate in the seat resulted in boundary changes for the 2010 election but while the historic Hillsborough name was retained as part of the new constituency name, this seat is overwhelmingly made up of the old Sheffield Brightside seat. Brightside has been a Labour stronghold since before the second world war, often one of their safest seats in the country. It was previously represented by the left-winger Joan Maynard, once Chair of the Socialist Campaign Group and David Blunkett, once a similarly left-wing figure as leader Sheffield council, but later to serve as Home Secretary under Tony Blair.

Current MP
HARRY HARPHAM (Labour) Educated at Sheffield University. Former Parliamentary researcher and miner. Sheffield councillor since 2000. First elected as MP for Sheffield Brightside & Hillsborough in 2015.
Past Results
Con: 4468 (11%)
Lab: 21400 (55%)
LDem: 7768 (20%)
BNP: 3026 (8%)
Oth: 2252 (6%)
MAJ: 13632 (35%)
Con: 2205 (9%)
Lab: 16876 (69%)
LDem: 3232 (13%)
BNP: 1537 (6%)
Oth: 779 (3%)
MAJ: 13644 (55%)
Con: 2601 (10%)
Lab: 19650 (77%)
LDem: 2238 (9%)
UKIP: 348 (1%)
Oth: 715 (3%)
MAJ: 17049 (67%)
Con: 2850 (8%)
Lab: 24901 (74%)
LDem: 4947 (15%)
Oth: 543 (2%)
MAJ: 19954 (59%)

*There were boundary changes after 2005, name changed from Sheffield, Brightside

2015 Candidates
ELISE DUNWEBER (Conservative) Elmbridge councillor since 2011.
HARRY HARPHAM (Labour) Educated at Sheffield University. Parliamentary researcher and former miner. Sheffield councillor since 2000.
JONATHAN HARTSON (Liberal Democrat)
JOHN BOOKER (UKIP) Sheffield councillor since 2014.
JUSTIN SAXTON (English Democrat)
MAXINE BOWLER (TUSC) Contested Sheffield Central 2005 for Respect, Sheffield Brightside and Hillsborough 2010 for TUSC.
Comments - 378 Responses on “Sheffield Brightside & Hillsborough”
  1. Always sad to hear of a death, even when you had never heard of the person before. Particularly a shame to see another truly working-class MP go, doubtless to be replaced by some identikit SpAd.

    I expect a really low turnout in the by-election, probably below 30%. Turnout dropped below 50% here during the Blair premiership, even with a very high-profile and well-loved sitting MP. The contest will be overshadowed by build-up to elections for the devolved administrations and London mayoralty, and the EU negotiations/referendum. Meanwhile the press will have had their fingers badly burnt by Oldham West and will be unwilling to make a big deal out of another by-election in a fairly similar sort of seat.

  2. My gut feeling is something like Con 40 Lab 29.5

    We don’t have much to go on in terms of relevant comparisons but the evidence from last weeks local by election in Stockton South constituency where the Labour vote was up slightly on May 2015 combined with a recent Bury by election backs that up.

    The main volatility and unpredictability across the polls now seems to be with UKIP.

    I think Corbyn’s main saving grace is the weakness of the Greens and LDs plus the relative incompetence of Farage’s personality cult but he’ll be on shaky ground if Labour polls below 33% in May’s local elections.

    As for the future by election here I would predict something like Lab 59 UKIP 26.

  3. Very sad news, Harpham was well-known in the city from his time on the council and was just starting to make an impact as an MP.

    As a local resident (in a different part of the city), I’ll have more to contribute on the resulting election later, but will leave it here for now.

  4. Turnout wise I reckon will be over 30% as it likely will be same time as locals

  5. Obviously as I live in Central on the bus route to Hillsborough, I’ll probably have extensive campaign news for you all.


    I wouldn’t have thought they’d leave it three months would they? I suspect it’ll take place around Easter time. There has been some speculation among my friends in the know about who might contest it. I’ll leave that as an exercise for the reader.

  6. The Ogmore by election will be set for the locals so I thought it only make sense? Do you need support when it comes round to the campaign?

  7. I am perhapps rther old fashioned; but can we be told, when the decision is made, on what date Mr. Harpham’s funeral will be held. Providing that this is within a reasonable time (a couple of weeks at most) I think we should refrain from comments beyond condolences until then.

  8. Yeah, absolutely. I’m sorry I apologise for seeming insensitive.

    Yes, you are just being old fashioned.
    Delay in discussion just helps the status quo. It is sad that one of the few real working class members of Labour died (a miner!) especially considering the stinking rich privately educated Labour Leader from Islington but times change.
    Ken Livingstone has said in the Evening Standard that he would consider standing as a MP again and he was linked to the by-election in Wales.

    Meanwhile, Galloway has always been active in by-elections and the demographic here could be perfect.

  10. It’s true that we can’t really gauge the accuracy of current polling methodology at the moment, but it’s in such a state of flux that current polls cannot fairly be compared to the pre election polls. It may well be the case that they’re still overestimating Labour; it may also be the case that they’re overcompensating without getting to the root of the failure (self-selection bias).

    What the events of last May do show us is the difficulty of accurately predicting the outcome of an election a week, or even a day, out, with masses of data, let alone four and a half years. Aside from uncertainty about the polls, we don’t know for sure who’s going to be leading either major party into the next election. We also don’t know what this Parliament’s Falklands, Black Wednesday, 9/11 or IndyRef might be yet.

    The only thing that we can realistically say is that we don’t have the first idea what’s going to happen in 2020.

  11. Corbyn went to a grammar school not private

  12. I hope we aren’t going to talk about Ken, Galloway or Katy Clarke, etc. being parachuted in as a left wing candidate on every thread where there is a by election. It won’t happen. It will be some local candidate.

  13. Isn’t Galloway still running for London mayor? In which case no he won’t go anywhere near this seat.

    The only wards where UKIP could prove a headache are Southey and Shiregreen & Brightside. Burngreave and Firth Park are demographically favourable to Labour and Hillsborough proper is Labour leaning but will probably give UKIP a decent result.

  14. Matt Wilson – Corbyn attended both. An independent prep school. Then a grammar for his secondary school.

  15. He also dropped out from a Polytechnic. Does that technically mean he’s the first Labour leader in x number of years who’s neither Oxbridge nor a graduate?

  16. Fair enough I didn’t know that. It wasn’t mentioned in either of his biographys. Still I regard the idea of Corbyn being filthy rich silly.

    I can’t think of a post-war leader who wasn’t at oxbridge let alone a graduate. Perhaps George Lansbury.

  17. “I can’t think of a post-war leader who wasn’t at oxbridge” – Gordon Brown?

  18. not sure who the last non-graduate leader was though

  19. John Major wasn’t a graduate (if we’re talking about all the main parties), but I think one has to go back a fair bit in time with regards to Labour leaders.

  20. Matt Wilson – not surprised he didn’t mention it.

    I don’t think anyone’s said JC was filthy rich; but he was raised in a large rural Manor house so certainly wealthy. Not the urban Islington council flat he likes to be pictured exiting. Jeremy and Piers should be a clue.

  21. You don’t have to go back that far, Jim Callaghan didn’t go to university, he left school and joined the Inland Revenue.

  22. I don’t understand your implication at why it shouldn’t be mentioned in either Corbyn’s biographys that he attended a private school. It’s not like either authors owe it to him to omit that detail.

    Apologies D.Alex said stinking rich. Should check more carefully next time. Nye Bevan once said, ‘it’s not where you come from but where you are going that matters’.

    I didn’t realise Brown went to a university other than oxbridge

  23. Education/choice of school has often been where far Left MPs came unstuck, although it’s usually hypocrisy re their children, eg Diane Abbott.

    But in JC’s case it’s more that he presents himself as one of the urban masses. He’s been consistent in his views, but in the ’80s it was also seen in part as a class struggle by groups such as Militant. It’s no surprise therefore that those not from humble backgrounds didn’t mention it.

    In 1983 it was Labour policy to abolish all public schools. A leading leftwinger isn’t likely to mention he attended one.

  24. Sorry, didn’t mean to divert discussion.
    Corbyn was from the Manor House born and was educated privately at Castle House prep school which was traditional of the rich to give a boost to their children over the working classes to get into Grammar School. Corbyn’s finances place him firmly in the top decile in the UK and makes him part of the ‘elite’ that movements he stands alongside (eg. Occupy) campaign against. Corbyn is a London Centric MP and it’s such a shame that a Labour MP such as Harpham who really represents the working classes isn’t leader.
    Back on the polls, the inaccuracy of them was striking, I do wonder if the EU REF will have a positive / negative impact on UKIPs vote here with the working classes.

  25. Callaghan, Kinnock, Smith and Brown all did not attend Oxbridge.

    Also, simply being an MP for a good number of years is likely to place someone in the top 10% or so of the population financially. It’s pretty tedious using that as an argument against anyone who argues for any sort of radical policy.

  26. Also, I can’t see Galloway even running in a seat where less than 15% of the population is Muslim. The demographics here are far from perfect for him.

  27. Corbyn’s views on policy are perfectly respectable, although obviously I think they are completely wrong. What I find most objectionable about him is the way he pretty much wasted the excellant educational start in life he received. It took me years to recover from my substandard secondary education. I have an extremely low opinion of anyone who had the kind of schooling I would have given my right arm for but did nothing with it.

  28. One could legitimately argue that being a Member of Parliament and Leader of the Opposition would suggest he hasn’t really wasted his education. Not everyone is best suited to going on to university.

  29. Prior to Jeremy Corbyn, the previous Labour leader was James Callaghan, who , according to Wikipedia, resigned on 15 October 1980. That was slightly less than 35 years before Corbyn became Leader of the Opposition..

  30. “Also, I can’t see Galloway even running in a seat where less than 15% of the population is Muslim. The demographics here are far from perfect for him.”

    He managed to get turfed out of Bradford West last year (thankfully) which has a much bigger Muslim population. Even many of them probably came to the realisation that he was a no good opportunist who didn’t care for the constituency but only used it as a platform for his own ego.

  31. ‘There’s been a small swing towards the government in the opinion polls since the general election’

    Not in all of them – some are showing a small swing to Labour. Two of the three by elections for which swing could be calculated last week showed a Con to Lab swing – one of them even from 2013.

  32. “One could legitimately argue that being a Member of Parliament and Leader of the Opposition would suggest he hasn’t really wasted his education. Not everyone is best suited to going on to university”.

    His only talent seems to be for telling like minded groups of activists what they want to hear. That would have been enough to secure the Labour nomination in Islington N. It was also enough to win the party leadership once he’d fluked his way onto the ballot by it being Buggin’s turn for him to be the token leftist standard bearer, and via donated nominations from non-supporters.

    Other than that he’s never run anything, written anything or achieved anything substantial outside the world of the professional activist. I call that a poor return on an expensive education.

    Of course not everyone is suited to university. But Corbyn’s later mediocrity (thirty years on the backbenches) demonstrate that it’s more likely he couldn’t hack it intellectually.

  33. Graham – national polls have shifted Lab> Con since the GE result.

    You must mean local by-elections. Yes, last week the Tories performed poorly in all. But with Ind, Liberal, Green and LD gains in recent weeks, they tend to often reflect local personalities on 20% turnouts. Govt tend to lose Parliamentary By-elections as a general rule. Although all of those in the last Parliament saw UKIP on the rise rather than the Labour Opposition. Perhaps we should have taken more notice of them.

    Simon – I assume people meant wealth rather than annual income, ie going to Prep school presumably meant Jeremy/Piers’ parents were wealthy rather than JC got £££s in pocket money more than John Major. I agree it doesn’t mean rich people can’t argue for high taxes. It just amuses when they give an impression that aren’t from a well off background.

  34. Lancs Observer

    Not ALL polls have shifted to the Tories since May 2015. ICM and the Comres phone poll showed Tory leads of just 5% which is actually a small swing to Labour. In January 2016 theTory lead ranged from 5 to 11%.

  35. The polls since the election show that there has been little VI movement. We know that polls are not always precisely correct so it is possible that there has been a small swing either way. We should be particularly cautious about interpreting polls at the moment, whilst the pollsters are going through a period of testing things which may or may not have addressed the problems experienced before the GE. However, the other evidence we have – leader ratings, issue ratings, local by-election results (though I wouldn’t take these all that seriously) etc. – as well as the trend since the GE suggests it is extremely unlikely that Labour are doing significantly better than the polls are suggesting. It is early days yet but the clock is ticking.

  36. Jack Sheldon

    I agree almost entirely! As for ‘the clock is ticking’, however, it is worth bearing in mind that the next election is still 4.25 years off – which is more than the entirety of the Parliaments of 2001 – 1997 – 1987 – 1983 – 1979 – 1970 – 1966 – 1955 – leaving aside the very early elections which could be listed!

  37. Correction- the 1987 Parliament was 4 yrs and 10 months!

  38. It’s sad that FREDERIC STANSFIELD’s plea on 6Feb, that we postpone comments here on the inevitable by-election, was ignored – after 27 hours of silence – by D ALEX introducing a completely unnecessary, untimely & nasty personal attack on the Labour leader.

    Condolences to Mr Harpham’s family and friends – he was a good man.

  39. @Graham

    Well, past evidence points to needing to the need to make inroads early in the parliament to win the following election from opposition. In May 2006 the Tories had 6-10 point leads; in April 1993 Labour had 5-19 point leads; in October 1975 the Tories had a 2 point lead; in June 1971 Labour had an 18 point lead.

    Now, I don’t discount the idea that this parliament could be an exception. Past evidence doesn’t make iron law. In particular, were Labour to manage to install an electable leader at some later point it may transform things. But right now all of the historical precedents are signalling a Tory win in 2020, and quite possibly a big win.

  40. Jack Sheldon

    I disagree with your interpretation of past evidence. In the Parliaments of 1959 and 1987 it took 2 years for Labour to take the lead , yet this did not prevent Labour winning the 1964 election and making a net gain of 42 seats in 1992 despite Thatcher having been ousted less than 18 months earlier. Moreover, at the same stage of the 2001 Parliament in early 2002 Labour enjoyed a commanding lead of 15 – 20% over the Tories – yet by 2005 this had melted away to a mere 3% lead.
    My real point is that relying on polls at such an early stage of the Parliament makes little sense.

  41. I might add that in the 1966 Parliament Labour was 3 -9.5% ahead in Jan/Feb 1967 – hardly a good predictor of the 1970 election.

  42. Jack Sheldon

    I have just noticed that the 3 examples you refer to all relate to the 12 month point of a Parliament – whereas we have barely reached the 9 month point of the present Parliament. A like- for -like comparison,therefore, cannot yet be made – we will have to await the May elections and whatever the polls might then be showing.
    You mention Labour being 18 points ahead in June 1971, but it is also worth recalling that at the February 1974 election the Tories actually did win the popular vote by 0.8%. So again the 1971 polls were poor predictors of an election held just over two and a half years later!

  43. Someone from YouGov a few weeks ago said it was his “gut feeling” that the Tories had roughly a ten-point lead. That seems about right to me, considering polls are in the 5-11% range but most have not changed their methodology since the general election when it was found that they had a significant Labour bias. However, we will have to wait for a by-election in a marginal seat (Tooting, maybe?) to get a better picture of the state of play, neither Hillsborough nor Ogmore will tell us anything really.

    One thing I will say is the “divided camps don’t win” argument doesn’t seem to be holding much water at the moment. The divided LEAVE campaign(s) have all the momentum at the moment, and while Labour may be going backwards it has hardly fallen off the cliff as some were speculating.

  44. Also Keiran W, I object to your assertion that “Jeremy Corbyn has never run anything before”. He was chair of the Haringey Council Planning Committee, don’t you know?

  45. Several pollsters have made some preliminary changes to their methodologies I believe – Comres – ICM and maybe others.

  46. Graham: some have, some haven’t. And wouldn’t you know, the ones that have generally give bigger Tory leads.

  47. @Graham

    In your attempt to rebut my posts you make some valid points – the 1959 example (I didn’t look that far back) and the fact that we aren’t yet at one year (though I see no sign that LAB will lead by May – they surely won’t unless there is a devastating financial crash or something). But using the 1987 and 2001 examples rather proves my point – the opposition were badly placed after a year and didn’t go on to win. The 1970 parliament also helps prove my point even more – LAB built up a massive lead by a year in but could still only just form a government in 1974 despite the three day week, Heath’s u-turns and all the rest.

    As I said in my earlier post history doesn’t lay down iron laws and things can always happen that break with precedent. But when you add in all the contextual factors we know about Labour under Corbyn look already very badly placed for 2020, even though that is obviously still a long way off.

  48. @Jack Sheldon

    With respect , I don’t think my examples prove your original point at all!.To take the 1987 Parliament again, in the summer of 1988 polls were recording Tory leads of 12 to 15% yet at the 1992 election the Tory lead was 7.6% representing a significant reduction over the intervening three and a half years or so. As it was Labour made 42 net gains and had it not been for Thatcher’s downfall and poll tax removal, Tory losses would almost certainly been much higher -and quite likely would have enabled Labour to form a Government.
    The collapse in Labour’s lead from 15 -20% in early 2002 to a mere 3% in 2005 actually is an encouraging precedent for Labour today. The Labour lead dropped by 12 to 17% whilst current polls show a Tory lead of 8% on average. A shift of the same magnitude by 2020 would put Labour clearly ahead. The same applies to your 1971 example of Labour lead of 18% which became a Tory lead of 0.8% in Feb 1974, and to my 1966 example.
    We will have to wait and see what the polls are showing in May – but following a difficult 10 days for Cameron , further Tory divisions on the EU and maybe an unpopular Budget there is at least the potential for a significant shift over the next three months.

  49. The 1987 example remains erroneous for me for other reasons – for instance, unusually in more modern times the leader who lost the election in ’87 remained in post so there was no “bounce” effect to be had from the appointment of a new leader. The economy was buoyant too, which meant something of a feelgood factor.

    Two key events – the introduction of the Poll Tax and the recession (plus the disintegration of the leadership), served as game changers of that parliament and enabled Labour to establish a healthy lead which evaporated at the polls in 1992 (partly due to the factors you mentioned re: Thatcher’s resignation and reversing the Poll Tax).

    The Labour lead in 2002 will largely have been the result of the immediate response to 9/11, Blair’s up to then continued popularity and the choice of IDS as Conservative leader. The evaporation in the polls will have been largely down to the replacement of IDS with the outwardly more steady Howard plus the Iraq situation unwinding.

    The fact there has been no “bounce” from Corbyn’s appointment, allied to his own terrible personal ratings, suggests currently we are in very different territory to that which would cause a massive shift in the polls.

  50. ‘The 1987 example remains erroneous for me for other reasons – for instance, unusually in more modern times the leader who lost the election in ’87 remained in post so there was no “bounce” effect to be had from the appointment of a new leader. The economy was buoyant too, which meant something of a feelgood factor.’

    There was nothing unusual about the defeated Labour leader not resigning in 1987 – indeed it was very much the norm. Michael Foot’s resignation in 1983 stands out as the only example up to that date since World War 2 of a party leader from the two main parties standing down following an election defeat – and even in Foot’s case his age was a factor. People were persuaded in 2015 that economic recovery was both real and likely to strengthen – the clouds have darkened since and by 2020 many may feel they were duped last year. Once credibility is lost in that way it is difficult to regain.

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