A cabbie has tweeted that he has ‘reliable sources’ that Nigel Farage will take on Nick Clegg in the Sheffield Hallam constituency in 2015 in what would be the most eagerly awaited battle since Tatton in 1997 when Neil Hamilton faced off against Martin Bell. The official announcement will come shortly before the summer recess says said tweeter.
The tweet has sent the twitter political sphere into meltdown but it is the Lib Dems on twitter who seem to be smiling most – and it is no surprise. If UKIP are serious about winning seats in 2015 then they have to ensure they target certain seats with the right candidates. In the local elections in many seats they did no campaigning and won based solely on the strength of the national tide. This of course is far easier in local elections when you can win with a few hundred votes. Getting 15,000 odd though without lifting a finger is slightly harder to muster.
Nick Clegg might not be the most popular person in the country. I won’t sit here and say he is but he also isn’t hated in his own constituency. The Lib Dems will struggle with the national vote in a couple of years but what we have seen is that where the Lib Dems have MPs embedded and a string local party then they are resilient. The Lib Dems could easily lose half of their votes in 2015 but could come away with 40-50 MPs. That isn’t an unrealistic look into the future.
So I have to ask myself why Nigel Farage would want to take on Nick Clegg? He is far more likely to win a different constituency and if he was serious about being an MP and leading his party into the House of Commons then surely he would find a far easier seat to run in? I think though that the previous sentence showed up an important piece of information, is Nigel Farage serious about being an MP? Lets be honest here. Had Farage run in Eastleigh then he may well have won. Not saying he would have but there was every chance.
Facing Nick Clegg would cause a media stir and would focus the campaign strongly on Farage himself and not his party. Is that what he wants to do? Does he want to ensure that the media solely focuses on him and the UKIP party in general are relegated to a secondary issue? If he does then that would be a pretty poor show on his behalf but secondly for the Lib Dems putting up Clegg mano a mano with Farage is not a situation that would phase the party.
So I think most Lib Dems would say ‘bring it on’ but as I say this was all sparked by one tweet so take it with a pinch of salt…
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