John Leech (politician)

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The Hon
John Leech
John Leech 2016.jpg
Member of Parliament
for Manchester Withington
In office
5th May 2005 – 30 March 2015
Preceded by Keith Bradley
Succeeded by Jeff Smith
Majority 1,894 (4.21%)
Council Candidate
Constituency TBA
Personal details
Born (1971-04-11) 11 April 1971 (age 44)
Hastings, Sussex, England
Nationality British
Political party Liberal Democrats
Residence Manchester
Alma mater Brunel University
Awards Patchwork MP of the Year, Brake MP of the Year, Brake MP of the Month (Twice Winner)
Website http://www.johnleech.org.uk/

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.

Background[edit]

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. He commented that being one of just two Lib Dem MPs to oppose the Coalition Agreement meant that he was more inclined to vote for "what is actually Lib Dem policy", such as voting against tuition fee increases.[5]

During his time as MP, he won numerous awards for his work; notably the first ever Patchwork Liberal Democrat MP of the Year for his "tireless work with minority and ethnic groups" and Brake's MP of the Year and MP of the Month, twice, for his work surrounding road safety in his constituency, which included the inputting of several 20 mph zones by schools.[6] Leech's 2015 re-election campaign also picked up an award, despite it not returning him to Parliament.

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.

A John Leech garden board used in the 2015 general election

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. The CEO of Christie Hospital at the time thanked John for the campaign, and for his ongoing support of the hospital.

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] The Freedom of Information Enquiry revealed that there were plans to move cancer services from Christie Hospital in Manchester to hospitals in London, thus rendering Christie hospital redundant in Manchester. All cases against Leech were dropped following the Freedom of Information Enquiry.

John Leech was elected to represent Manchester Withington constituency, defeating the previous Labour incumbent with a swing of over 17% - the largest in the country that year.

Canvassers show their support.

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.[10]

2015 general election[edit]

In 2015 the Liberal Democrats faced a national collapse of support across the country following the Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition. Labour capitalised on this and ran a campaign targeted at students, following the infamous Liberal Democrat pledge, encouraging the students of Manchester Withington to oust their Liberal Democrat MP, failing to mention that John Leech was one of the few MPs that stuck to his pledge and voted against the tuition fees rise.

In April 2015 John Leech launched his re-election campaign entitled 'Make it 15' with party leader and Deputy Primer Minster Nick Clegg. The event was broadcast live on BBC news and Sky News, with the press in attendance and was branded as 'unapologetically relentless' by The Telegraph and 'genuinely defiant' by The Guardian, who also placed the campaign at number two of the top 10 Liberal Democrat campaigns of the 2015 general election. Leech's campaign was widely acknowledged as one of the most fiercely fought in the country with his team rolling out billboards, ad-vans, customised clothing, organised social media campaigns and a large ground team in a bid to return Leech as the MP. The localised campaign and slogan; 'A 10 Year Record of Delivery, Make it 15' went on to win an award for Best Digital Campaign of the 2015 General Election.

Just three weeks after 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]

John Leech confirmed he would stand in the Manchester local elections on 5 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 - though all seven wards in the Manchester Withington constituency are considered to be safe Labour seats.

2020 general election[edit]

Following his commitment to standing in the 2016 local election John Leech also confirmed he would stand for candidate selection to contest his formerly held seat, Manchester Withington, at the 2020 general election.

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.[11]

References[edit]

  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. ^ http://www.manchestereveningnews.co.uk/news/greater-manchester-news/revealed-greater-manchesters-most-rebellious-8439048
  6. ^ http://www.johnleech.org.uk/awards
  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. ^ [2][dead link]
  11. ^ 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
20052015
Succeeded by
Jeff Smith