The man trying to end Labour’s cast-iron grip on Manchester Council

A great profile of the former Lib Dem MP John Leech bidding to make a political comeback as a councillor (for which the auspices are good):

John Leech has been a thorn in Manchester Labour’s side for years.

After securing a shock 2005 general election victory in Withington – ousting Labour’s Keith Bradley in the fall-out from the Iraq war following a bitter campaign – he then repeated the feat five years later, to the horror of Labour officials who considered the seat back within their grasp.

Then came coalition. Last May Labour finally took its revenge, unseating the Liberal Democrat in the fierce backlash against his party’s deal with the Tories.

Yet rather than retreating quietly to lick his wounds, Mr Leech is now back on the doorstep, running a vociferous campaign to get back on the council in Didsbury – arguing it is time to end Labour’s 100pc grip on the town hall.

“It would have been very easy last year just to say ‘Well, I’ve done 20 years’,” he says. “It’s often a thankless job. Why not let somebody else do it now and I’ll go and do something less stressful?

“But I actually think I have got something to contribute. I know that there are a lot of people that feel they lack a voice and someone batting for them in the town hall and arguing their case…

“There’s also a sense of duty that I was part of a relatively large number of Liberal Democrat MPs that ended up in coalition and we led the party to a very bad election defeat.

“It’s up to people like me to ensure there’s a liberal voice still being heard in the country.” [Manchester Evening News]

Given the rise in postal voting, I particularly like this page on John Leech’s website. Post-election, it’ll be instructive to see what the data says about how it worked.

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