Eddie Izzard: bid to replace Paul Blomfield as Sheffield Central MP for Labour explained - where is she from?

Izzard’s ties to the city are numerous, but could she actually triumph as the MP for Sheffield Central?

Eddie Izzard has begun a bid to become the Labour MP for a constituency in Sheffield.

On Tuesday (11 October), the 60-year-old comedian revealed her desire to run for the party’s nomination for Sheffield Central.

It comes after the constituency’s incumbent Labour MP, Paul Blomfield, declared in February his intention to retire at the next general election.

Here is everything you need to know.

What is Izzard’s experience in politics?

While a comedian as an MP may seem a little unexpected on paper, Izzard is a long-time Labour Party and transgender activist, and first announced that she wanted to stand as an MP in 2020.

She joined the successful South Yorkshire mayoral candidate Oliver Coppard on the campaign trail at the time, as well as council ward hopefuls.

Rumours about her ambitions to stand for Parliament in Sheffield grew again when she canvassed for the local elections in the wards of Walkley and Broomhill in May 2022.

What are her connections to Sheffield?

Comedian Eddie Izzard campaigning for the Labour party in Cardiff Bay in 2017 (Photo: Matthew Horwood/Getty Images)

Izzard was born in 1962 in Aden (now the temporary capital city of Yemen) to English parents, and moved to Northern Ireland and settled in Bangor with her family at the age of one.

The family lived there until Izzard was five, after which they then moved to Wales, where they lived in the village of Skewen, near Swansea. Izzard attended school in Newton - near the south Wales seaside resort town of Porthcawl - before moving to Eastbourne later in her childhood.

But Izzard has many ties to Sheffield - she studied accountancy and financial management with mathematics at the University of Sheffield in the 1980s. She was made an honorary Doctor of Letters by the university in July 2006, and has often spoken of her fondness for the city.

She also ran through the city as part of her 43 marathons for Sport Relief, and campaigned against the closure of the Leadmill, where she performed two special shows in support of the under-threat music venue.

In a message on her campaign website, Izzard wrote that she wanted to “support the city that has supported me” as well as “take the fight to the Tories and get Keir Starmer into No 10”.

“When I’m faced with a challenge, I work my hardest to deliver,” she wrote. “This next challenge is the most important of my life and I need your help.”

Izzard added that Sheffield was “being held back” after 12 years of the Conservatives in power.

“A Labour government will embolden Sheffield to achieve its true potential and I believe I am the right person to build on Paul Blomfield’s tireless work for this city,” she said.

Could she be elected?

Unless a snap election is called by Prime Minister Liz Truss, the next chance the country will get to have their say on who is in power in Downing Street will come in December 2024 – five years after the 2019 election which saw a landslide victory for the Conservatives.

Until then, readers of our sister site - Sheffield’s The Star - have been debating whether they’d like to see the activist represent the city.

One supporter, Ewan King, wrote: “A very well educated, travelled and successful individual that wants to represent a city of vibrancy and diversity. To my mind, it would be fabulous! She would put most of the current MPs to shame.”

In contrast, Jane Armstrong questioned her claim to run in the city, writing: “If she is fancying Central I know a lot of Labour members in that area who are really hostile to having her as a candidate. Not because she isn’t a nice person, but because people do not like celebrities being parachuted into wards above local candidates.”

One welcoming reader, Kevin Rodgers, said: “Izzard is a big Labour supporter and went to uni in Sheffield. Eddie, like a lot of students, who have left or stayed permanently, actually love this city of ours because they are outsiders and see the best of what we have got or can get in the future.”

“Got enough comedians in town hall already,” jibed reader Andrew Sykes.

Izzard may too have competition to become the Sheffield Central candidate. Sheffield Firth Park ward councillor Abtisam Mohamed is understood to also have ambitions to stand for Labour in the constituency, though she has not yet officially announced a campaign.