Nick Clegg could be ousted. Photo: Getty
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Revised Ashcroft polling shows Nick Clegg could lose his seat

Ashcroft's poll for Sheffield Hallam, having been revised, shows the Lib Dem leader three points behind Labour.

The pollster Lord Ashcroft published the results of his polling in Sheffield Hallam, Nick Clegg's seat, last November. The results showed that the Lib Dem leader had a three-point lead over Labour in his constituency. But the results have been revised and republished today, and show that Clegg is actually three points behind Labour in his own patch.

Lord Ashcroft outlines the revised results on his website:

The data has now been corrected, and the upshot is that in Sheffield Hallam, rather than having a three-point lead Nick Clegg should have been three points behind Labour:

LAB 30%, LDEM 27%, CON 19%, UKIP 13%, GRN 10%.

These results follow another poll that emerged this week from Survation showing the Lib Dems ten points behind Labour in the constituency. Although we can't take a handful of polls as a prediction of the bleak political future of our Deputy Prime Minister, he does now have a fight on his hands to ensure he keeps his seat in May.

Here's some of our analysis of Clegg's prospects:


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It's also worth noting that a couple of other Ashcroft polls were corrected today. 

Thanet South:

In the seat where Nigel Farage is running, the Tories face a tighter race with Ukip than thought back in November. Rather than a five-point Tory lead, Ashcroft has found that they actually only have a one-point lead over Farage.

CON 33%, UKIP 32%, LAB 26%, LIB DEM 4%, GRN 3%

Doncaster North:

Ed Miliband is a full 30 points ahead of his nearest opponent, Ukip.

LAB 55%, UKIP 25%, CON 13%, LIB DEM 4%, GRN 2%

Anoosh Chakelian is senior writer at the New Statesman.

Photo: André Spicer
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“It’s scary to do it again”: the five-year-old fined £150 for running a lemonade stand

Enforcement officers penalised a child selling home-made lemonade in the street. Her father tells the full story. 

It was a lively Saturday afternoon in east London’s Mile End. Groups of people streamed through residential streets on their way to a music festival in the local park; booming bass could be heard from the surrounding houses.

One five-year-old girl who lived in the area had an idea. She had been to her school’s summer fête recently and looked longingly at the stalls. She loved the idea of setting up her own stall, and today was a good day for it.

“She eventually came round to the idea of selling lemonade,” her father André Spicer tells me. So he and his daughter went to their local shop to buy some lemons. They mixed a few jugs of lemonade, the girl made a fetching A4 sign with some lemons drawn on it – 50p for a small cup, £1 for a large – and they carried a table from home to the end of their road. 

“People suddenly started coming up and buying stuff, pretty quickly, and they were very happy,” Spicer recalls. “People looked overjoyed at this cute little girl on the side of the road – community feel and all that sort of stuff.”

But the heart-warming scene was soon interrupted. After about half an hour of what Spicer describes as “brisk” trade – his daughter’s recipe secret was some mint and a little bit of cucumber, for a “bit of a British touch” – four enforcement officers came striding up to the stand.

Three were in uniform, and one was in plain clothes. One uniformed officer turned the camera on his vest on, and began reciting a legal script at the weeping five-year-old.

“You’re trading without a licence, pursuant to x, y, z act and blah dah dah dah, really going through a script,” Spicer tells me, saying they showed no compassion for his daughter. “This is my job, I’m doing it and that’s it, basically.”

The girl burst into tears the moment they arrived.

“Officials have some degree of intimidation. I’m a grown adult, so I wasn’t super intimidated, but I was a bit shocked,” says Spicer. “But my daughter was intimidated. She started crying straight away.”

As they continued to recite their legalese, her father picked her up to try to comfort her – but that didn’t stop the officers giving her stall a £150 fine and handing them a penalty notice. “TRADING WITHOUT LICENCE,” it screamed.


Picture: André Spicer

“She was crying and repeating, ‘I’ve done a bad thing’,” says Spicer. “As we walked home, I had to try and convince her that it wasn’t her, it wasn’t her fault. It wasn’t her who had done something bad.”

She cried all the way home, and it wasn’t until she watched her favourite film, Brave, that she calmed down. It was then that Spicer suggested next time they would “do it all correctly”, get a permit, and set up another stand.

“No, I don’t want to, it’s a bit scary to do it again,” she replied. Her father hopes that “she’ll be able to get over it”, and that her enterprising spirit will return.

The Council has since apologised and cancelled the fine, and called on its officials to “show common sense and to use their powers sensibly”.

But Spicer felt “there’s a bigger principle here”, and wrote a piece for the Telegraph arguing that children in modern Britain are too restricted.

He would “absolutely” encourage his daughter to set up another stall, and “I’d encourage other people to go and do it as well. It’s a great way to spend a bit of time with the kids in the holidays, and they might learn something.”

A fitting reminder of the great life lesson: when life gives you a fixed penalty notice, make lemonade.

Anoosh Chakelian is senior writer at the New Statesman.