John Leech (politician)

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John Leech
Member of Parliament
for Manchester Withington
In office
5 May 2005 – 30 March 2015
Preceded by Keith Bradley
Succeeded by Jeff Smith
Majority 1,894 (4.21%)
Personal details
Born (1971-04-11) 11 April 1971 (age 44)
Hastings, Sussex, England
Nationality British
Political party Liberal Democrat
Alma mater Brunel University

John Sampson Macfarlane Leech[1] (born 11 April 1971,[2] Hastings, East Sussex) is a British Liberal Democrat politician. He was the Member of Parliament (MP) for Manchester Withington from 2005 to 2015. In the 2005–2010 Parliament he was a member of the Transport Select Committee and was appointed a Shadow Transport Spokesperson in 2006.


Leech grew up in Chorlton-cum-Hardy, where his father became a Minister at Chorlton Methodist Church. He went to the independent Manchester Grammar School in Fallowfield, Loreto College in Hulme, and Brunel University in Uxbridge where he studied History and Politics and also joined the Liberal Democrat Party. He received an Upper-Second Class Honours degree upon graduating. After leaving university he worked as a trainee manager for McDonald's and part-time at the RAC in Stretford as a call centre insurance claims handler.

Political career[edit]

In 1998 Leech was elected to Manchester City Council, as a Councillor for Barlow Moor and later for Chorlton Park following boundary changes to the ward. He was Deputy Leader of the council's Opposition Group, acting as a spokesperson for Planning and the Environment.[3]

Leech was elected at the 2005 general election, unexpectedly defeating Keith Bradley, the incumbent Labour Party MP, by a swing of over 17%. Leech became the first Liberal or Liberal Democrat to win a Manchester seat since 1929. Leech continued to represent Chorlton Park as a councillor in addition to duties as Member of Parliament until he stood down at local elections in May 2008.[4]

An article published by the Manchester Evening News in early 2015 revealed that Leech was the second most rebellious Greater Manchester MP voting against his own party, whip and Government many times. [5]

John Leech was always a very favourable Member of Parliament and polls consistently placed him as one of the most liked MPs in Manchester. [6]

2005 general election[edit]

During the 2005 General Election campaign he mounted a 'Save Christie Hospital' campaign, focusing on concern at the possible movement of cancer services away from one of Europe's largest cancer treatment centres. Labour Party supporters alleged that these concerns were unfounded and that there was never any risk to the hospital.

In April 2005, the Manchester Evening News reported that sixty doctors had signed a petition calling on the Greater Manchester Strategic Health Authority not to move services away from Christie as part of a review of services.[7] The doctors cited concerns that a dislocation of services from the Christie Hospital could jeopardise patient outcomes and their campaign was supported by both the University of Manchester and Cancer Research UK.[8]

The campaign was taken up by Leech as well as the Conservative Party Shadow Secretary of State for Health Andrew Lansley. However, health services executives reacted angrily to what they perceived as scaremongering on the part of both the Liberal Democrats and the consultants who signed the petition. The Chief Executives of the Greater Manchester Strategic Health Authority and the South Manchester Primary Care Trust both denied the rumours.

The debate between Labour and Liberal Democrat party members about the validity of Leech's claims has continued since the election. Leech took a petition of 1,500 residents to the Strategic Health Authority over the threat while Labour supporters organised a separate petition of local residents to request an explanation from Leech over his conduct.[9]

In 2006 Lib Dem Cllr Angela Gallagher defected to the Labour Party citing Leech's Christie Hospital campaign as a major factor in her decision. (Gallagher had donated over £22,000 to his General Election campaign fund.)[10] Gallagher subsequently lost her seat in the 2007 Manchester local elections by 42 votes to Liberal Democrat Councillor Paul Ankers.[11]

2010 general election[edit]

At the general election held on 6 May 2010 John Leech was re-elected the Liberal Democrat Member of Parliament, after a close contest with rival Lucy Powell (Labour Co-operative), increasing his majority to 1,894 following a swing of 2.4% from Labour to the Liberal Democrats.[12]

2015 general election[edit]

In 2015 the Liberal Democrats faced a national collapse of support across the country. In early 2015 John Leech launched his re-election campaign entitled 'Make it 15'. Despite a strong campaign battle widely acclaimed by press, critics and constituents, securing nearly 12,000 votes, Leech lost his seat to Labour. Within three weeks of losing his seat, Leech confirmed he would stand fewer than 12 months later in the Manchester City Council local elections in May 2016.

2016 local election[edit]

Just a few weeks after losing his seat in the 2015 General Election, Leech confirmed he would stand in the Manchester local elections on 5th May 2016. The Manchester Gazette broke the news with Leech stating; 'I promised not to give up on the residents of Manchester Withington, and I'm not going to. I will continue to fight for south Manchester as I always have done'. The official selection process is yet to take place with a ward still to be confirmed.

Personal life[edit]

Leech is an amateur dramatics enthusiast (Manchester Road Players), and his late father was a Methodist minister. Leech is also a football supporter, and season-ticket holder, following Manchester City F.C. and an enthusiastic member of the Parliamentary Football team.[13]


  1. ^ [1][dead link]
  2. ^ "John Leech". BBC. Retrieved 2007-10-02. [dead link]
  3. ^ "Who's Who - John Leech MP". Liberal Democrats. Retrieved 2008-09-11. 
  4. ^ Thislethwaite, Laura (2008-02-21). "Leech to give up his council seat". South Manchester Reporter (MEN Group). Retrieved 2008-05-01. [dead link]
  5. ^
  6. ^
  7. ^ Camber, Rebecca (2005-04-15). "Christie fury at shake-up talks". Manchester Evening News. Retrieved 2006-08-16. 
  8. ^ Camber, Rebecca (2005-04-16). "Support for docs in Christie storm". Manchester Evening News. Retrieved 2006-08-16. 
  9. ^ "MP Ambushed by red card petition over cancer wards". South Manchester Reporter. Retrieved 2006-08-08. 
  10. ^ "Lib Dem quit over MP's Christie closure claim". South Manchester Reporter. Retrieved 2006-08-08. 
  11. ^ [2][dead link]
  12. ^ [3][dead link]
  13. ^ Leech, John. "Frequently Asked Questions". Official website. Retrieved 2008-10-25. 

External links[edit]

Parliament of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
Keith Bradley
Member of Parliament for Manchester, Withington
Succeeded by
Jeff Smith