Vince Cable, the leader of the Liberal Democrats, has warned that Manchester must be careful not to fall back into a one-party state.
In 2014, Manchester returned a full slate of Labour councillors meaning the city had no opposition. It remained that way until 2016 when former MP John Leech stormed to victory with 53% of the vote. For the past two years, he has served as the city’s one-man opposition.
But now just days before voters head to the polls, the leader of the Liberal Democrats, Vince Cable has warned that it would be “dangerous” for Manchester to fall back into a “one-party state.”
He said: “John Leech has been a powerful and effective opposition – his tireless work and fierce passion for equality makes me endlessly proud to lead this party.
“Thanks to John, failing after failing from Manchester Council have been exposed. Everything from a complete lack of affordable housing and rejecting desperate Syrian child refugees to shocking 60% pay rises for senior staff and the misuse of public money.
“But John needs more Liberal Democrat colleagues to continue holding Manchester Council to account, it is not healthy for any council to have no opposition.
“It would be dangerous for Manchester to fall back into a one-party state under the false pretence that Labour is working for them. Voters in Manchester should use their three votes for the Liberal Democrats to get the opposition this great city so desperately needs.”
Liberal Democrat John Leech has been a thorn in Labour’s side since his first election to the town hall in 1998. After seven years on the council, John Leech took the parliamentary seat of Manchester Withington from Labour for the first time in the seat’s history and went on to hold it for a decade, fending off fierce competition from party giant Lucy Powell.
In 2016, he stormed back on to the Council in another shock victory, signifying the first gain for any party other than Labour for the first time in six years in Manchester and providing an opposition for the first time in two years.
John Leech said: “There is no greater privilege than to serve the people of Manchester but I need help. When voters head to the polls on Thursday, I need them to vote for the Liberal Democrats three times, wherever they are, so that I can come back with a team around me.
“We have a rare opportunity to elect a council that leads from the front; that cities around the world look up to; where we celebrate diversity, house the homeless, welcome the desperate and build a future for our children.
“Only the Liberal Democrats can deliver a plan that brings Manchester together.”
Manchester faces all up elections this May due to boundary changes meaning every one of the 96 seats is up for grabs.