With Labour set to suffer further losses to its ‘Red Wall’ seats during Thursday’s local council elections, we asked the people of Sheffield where their party-loyalties lie in light of Labour’s waning popularity.
Sheffield Council has traditionally been a stronghold for the Labour party, but a recent YouGov poll projects Sheffield Council to shift from Labour control to ‘leaning Labour’.
Unlike many councils in the so-called ‘Red Wall’, the Conservatives are not expected to make significant gains in Sheffield.
Instead, it is seeming increasingly likely Labour will lose seats to the Liberal Democrats and Green Party.
Labour’s dwindling support has been pinned, in part, to growing national scorn for party leader, Keir Starmer, who, according to recent polling from YouGov, has seen his approval rating fall from 48 per cent in June 2020, to 26 per cent this month.
Speaking to residents outside Sheffield Town Hall, opinion was split on the Labour leader.
Sheila Barber, a retired legal professional said: “I like him [Starmer] because I like reasonable people. I think he’s reasonable and measured and he was a lawyer. I worked in the criminal justice system for 25 years so I’ve got a lot of respect for him.”
Jack White, 24, who works for an energy company, said he plans to vote for the Green Party in tomorrow’s council elections, stating that he believes Labour were not doing enough to tackle climate change.
Speaking on what the council has achieved since declaring a climate emergency in February 2019, he said: “They’ve not done enough at all. I think they just did that as a peacekeeper.”
On Starmer, he said: “I think a lot of young people are angry with the Labour Party at the moment because Keir Starmer just hasn’t got the same passion that Jeremy Corbyn had.
“His views are too sensible. We’re living in a generation where people are a lot more passionate and more read-up on politics – particularly younger people.
“We want a Labour government that will give young people’s views and we’re not being given that at all at the moment.”
While council elections are usually dominated by local issues, they are looked to by political parties as a barometer of how the party is doing nationally.
According to the latest YouGov data, Johnson has a favourability of -2 in ‘Red Wall’ seats, with Starmer polling at -11.
Irene Frith, 76, said she is planning on voting Conservative in tomorrow’s council elections regardless of whether they have a realistic chance of winning council seats.
“This is going back a long time to the ‘60s when I first got married. Harold Wilson was Prime Minister and he ruined our lives with his policies and I have been Conservative ever since.”
On Keir Starmer Ms Frith added: “I don’t think he’s a socialist by any means. He’s a wealthy conservative I think.”
In line with our report last week, the prevailing mood among residents is one of apathy towards council elections.
A significant majority of people we spoke to declined to comment once local elections were mentioned with one woman saying: “I can’t say the things I’d like to say on camera”.