Manchester MP denies Calamity Clegg backs Tories

‘It is pretty clear from the article that The Telegraph have made this up. They must be a bit desperate for copy.’
– John Leech MP (by email)

Leading blogger Cllr Bob Piper was left unsurprised at the news that the Lib Dems would support a minority Tory government should the next election result in a hung parliament… without demanding anything much in return.

Such a move would be a calamity for Manchester Withington’s Lib Dem MP John Leech, who was largely swept in on a wave of anti-war sentiment and NHS scaremongering. John continues to spit feathers at any suggestion that a vote for him is a vote for the Tories, so I couldn’t resist engaging him in a little banter. He claims the Telegraph have made the whole thing up and would regard Labour’s use of the ‘vote John Leech, get a Tory government’ line as an attempt ‘to con people’.

But John isn’t at all close to his leader, who issued this warning back in March: ‘John was expected to follow the line and there will be consequences.’

Meanwhile, Nick Clegg is not particularly anti-Tory. He joined the Conservative Party Association at university (but probably not the party proper) and worked for Sir Leon Brittan, the Tory EU commissioner.

Add to that that talk of backing the Tories is nothing new – someone gave the FT the same story back in February – and it looks more likely that John Leech is out of the loop and the FT and Telegraph are best informed. And so ‘vote John Leech for a Tory government’ is a fair summary of the situation.

One thought on “Manchester MP denies Calamity Clegg backs Tories

  1. This article removed from MEN website in April 2010:
    Clegg’s blast for rebel MP
    Mike Keegan

    MARCH 10, 2008

    LIBERAL Democrat leader Nick Clegg has said one of the region’s MPs will `face the consequences’ after he defied party orders.

    Withington MP John Leech was part of a group of dissenters who voted against the party line in a Commons vote on the European Union. Speaking on a visit to Oldham this week, Mr Clegg hit out at Mr Leech’s actions.

    Referring to the dissenters, he said: “I don’t relish blood-curdling tasks. But they need to realise that they are in a party of 63.

    “A collective decision was made on their behalf, which the vast majority of others agreed with.

    “John was expected to follow the line and there will be consequences.”

    Mr Clegg was in Oldham to speak to youngsters. He dropped in at Oldham college, viewed a mechanics’ workshop in Derker, a resource centre in Alt and paid a visit to the Saddleworth museum. The Oldham East and Saddleworth seat is seen as a key marginal and a target for the Lib Dems.

    The party’s parliamentary candidate there is Rochdale councillor Elwyn Watkins, who recently caused a stir when he sent an email claiming Rochdale council is perceived as doing `nothing for poor white people’.

    But Mr Clegg gave Coun Watkins his backing.

    He said: “Elwyn has given me his personal assurance that those comments were not his own thoughts.

    “He was representing the views of his constituents, which is what we all have to do – even if we don’t like it.”

    Oldham council is controlled by the Labour group, which has a majority of just two.

    Mr Clegg said he was confident the authority would be in Lib Dem hands after the May elections.

    He said: “I think Labour are in trouble and they don’t expect to be in control here much longer.”

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