Tag Archives: Paul Blomfield

Video: Clegg summit draws hundreds of protesters

Hundreds of trade unionists and activists gathered outside the Town Hall yesterday, just as preparations were being made to host a council question and answer session with Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg.

Speaking after the demonstration, Paul Blomfield said, “[The protest] has been organised at very short notice and overall we’ve had about three or four hundred people here. It’s very positive.”

Although Mr Clegg did not arrive at the Town Hall until after the crowds had dispersed, Mr Blomfield remained hopeful he will respond to his invitation to face a public grilling, “So far he’s dodged every opportunity to meet the people of Sheffield in an open context, where people can fire questions at him without being stage managed. I hope he’ll do it.”

On the subject of Mr Clegg’s pledge to return any net gain on the sale of his house to the taxpayer, Mr Blomfield said “Well, that’s the test for him. And he may as well sell it, because he’s got no roots in Sheffield. He doesn’t come here very often.”


Clegg to visit city to launch council enterprise deal

Deputy PM Nick Clegg

Deputy Prime Minister and Hallam MP Nick Clegg is to visit Sheffield tomorrow to help launch a new scheme intended to bring the council and local businesses together.

Mr Clegg will visit the Town Hall to help launch the new Sheffield Local Enterprise Partnership, introduced at last night’s meeting of the full council. The LEP is intended as a replacement for regional development agency Yorkshire Forward which is to be abolished.

He will also meet with local MPs, councillors and business and voluntary group leaders for the Sheffield First Partnership leadership summit at Mercure St. Pauls Hotel.

At last night’s meeting, Cllr Scriven, who has been involved in the founding of the LEP, said he hoped the replacement of Yorkshire Forward with a more private sector inclusive project would remove beaurocracy and stimulate growth.

He said, “If this city is going to move forward over the next ten years that growth is going to have to come from the private sector. That means that his city is going to have to be business friendly, it’s going to have to be business smart and it’s going to have to have a vision about how it works for or with business.

“It’s not going to be about Town Hall knows best, it’s going to be about the business working with the council and different councils working throughout Derbyshire and South Yorkshire, to actually get the right kind of approach.”

The proposals were largely welcomed by both sides of the chamber, although Labour councillors stopped short of giving the plans their full support. Cllr Tony Damms pointed out that some in the private sector are reluctant to get involved.

“They’re against it because they don’t feel they’ve been consulted” he said, “and they think it’s a bit rich to call on a set of proposals as major as these, and claim that the business community’s on side when they’ve not even been asked. They’ve been ignored.”

He went on to voice uncertainty about whether the LEP would be the shot in the arm that Mr Scriven says it will, “We don’t feel we can support the scrapping of the regional development agencies, such as Yorkshire Forward, and their replacement with the Local Enterprise Partnerships, because we don’t know how they will work.” He said, “We don’t know if it will stimulate the economy, and we don’t know if it’ll prioritise certain things that won’t help this city. We might be worse off with this option.”

Video: “Nick Clegg is not welcome in Sheffield” – City responds to emergency budget

Hundreds gathered outside Sheffield Town Hall this afternoon to protest against the public sector cuts outlined in the coalition government’s first budget.

Doug Patterson of Unite recieved the warmest welcome of the day, canonised for his ongoing battle to reverse the governments decision to withdraw their £80m loan to Sheffield Forgemasters.

Sheffield Labour Party Chair Paul Wood recieved a frostier reception, and was heckled by activists in the crowd for New Labour’s centrism. A message from Labour MP for Sheffield South East Clive Betts was read out to a murmur of boos, although Central MP Paul Blomfield’s message was better recieved.

Constant throughout the speeches was a sense of betrayal. A feeling that Nick Clegg, once the golden boy of Sheffield, has sold the north down the river, to the extent that Patterson declared him persona-non-grata in the Steel City. A further demonstration outside his Eccleshall constituency home has been mooted, but as I understand it it’s pretty hard to catch him in these days.

Lib Dem council leader Paul Scriven, who has been on telly an awful lot this weekend loyally defending the coalition’s actions, did not attend the protest.

In other news, fresh faced education minister Michael Gove will be opening a new building near the Peace Gardens on Thursday afternoon at 1pm. I’d be surprised if he didn’t recieve a warm, Sheffield welcome.

VIDEO: Eddie Izzard talks about Labour, politics and his plans to run for office

Eddie Izzard visited the University of Sheffield today, to offer his support for Paul Blomfield. Some colleagues and I caught up with him backstage to talk about the election, his plans for the future and the Party Election Broadcast he made for the Labour Party.

For those who haven’t seen it, here’s Eddie’s PEB.

I’ll be putting together the footage I have of the Q&A session with Eddie, Paul and NUS president Wes Streeting tomorrow.

Thanks to Paul Garbett, Ben Rossi, Ben Wood and Chris Anstey for asking some good questions, and to Tom Hunt from the Labour Party.

The Analogue Election – Doorstepping with Ed Miliband and Paul Blomfield

Paul and Ed

Paul and Ed chat to a green leaning floating voter

We’re told that this year will see the first “digital election”, an election decided by who has the smartest twitterers and the biggest facebook groups. Either Sheffield didn’t get the memo, or the Labour party are leaving nothing to chance in this constituency, because we’re on our way for an evening of old school campaigning. We’re off to knock on doors.

As we step from Labour’s offices in Sheffield’s Trades and Labour club to the car park outside, I feel certain Paul Blomfield is leading me towards the silver Jaguar parked in the corner. A politician’s car if ever I saw one. I’m slightly blindsided when Sheffield’s newest Labour candidate flips the central locking on the much less ostentatious maroon Clio parked behind it. We’re making a short journey to Sharrow to meet environment secretary Ed Miliband, author of Labour’s recently launched manifesto.

As we park up, we’re joined by a small army of volunteers sporting red rosettes. There’s an air of giddiness about the younger members of the group. Part pure enthusiasm, part excitement at the imminent arrival of such a rock-star of politics. The team disperse through the nearby streets, knocking on doors to ask people’s allegiances, and seeing if anyone fancies a chat with a cabinet minister.

Paul's team prepare to get sore knuckles.

Ed’s running a little late, he’s been visiting a recycling centre near Scunthorpe and the traffic’s a nightmare. One of the younger campaigners jokes that an approaching, slightly tired looking Jag could belong to the minister, to which Paul quips, “No, I’m pretty sure he’s driving a Prius.”

Ed soon arrives, wearing a slightly weary smile and a suit that surely cost more than my education, and heads off with Paul in a door-knocking tag team. The army’s tactics are starting to become clear. They’re looking for wavering Labour voters whose fears they can calm, and Green supporters who Ed can convince to vote tactically. He offers his eco-credentials as assurance that they can vote for a winner without betraying their values, along with promises of electoral reform, to make conscience voting easier next time round.

Does he not find it odd asking people to vote for them, so they can more easily vote for someone else next time? “Obviously I want people to vote Labour, but the truth is if you want accountability of MPs it’s good to have a system where you have to get more than 50% of the vote.” Ed tells me, “We want people to be able to express their opinions, but then vote second or third for someone else, and frankly we’ve got to take this opportunity to reform our politics.”

Today’s other big message is that the Liberal Democrats, Labour’s only serious competition in Sheffield Central, “can’t win nationally.” Nick Clegg gave a crowd pleasing performance at the first round of leaders debates last night, surely cause for concern in such a hotly contested seat?

“The reason I’m here to support Paul is that this is one of the key seats where a vote for the Liberal Democrats could let in a Tory government.” Ed says, deftly dismissing the idea of a hung parliament, let alone an outright Lib Dem win. “I think Nick Clegg clearly had a good outing in the debate, but he didn’t come under much scrutiny because the Liberals tend not to. I think he’ll face more scrutiny in future debates, but on that key Labour-Tory choice, Gordon Brown won the debate.”

One thing Ed and Paul clearly have in common is an enthusiasm for the old fashioned pressing of flesh. While enthusiastic pledges of Labour votes have been a little thin on the ground, people are genuinely impressed that the pair have bothered to turn up in person to ask for them. It may be quicker and easier to reach a lot of people with a tweet, but it’ll never have the same impact. As Ed says before he heads off to his next meeting, “Getting out and meeting people, there’s no substitute for it.”

Originally from this week’s Forge Press. Well worth picking up a copy if you can, the election section’s really good, and you’ll find my guide to the Digital Economy Act in the Fuse pull out.