EXCLUSIVE: Withington MP set to defy party on blood sports

Update: John Leech MP: ‘no manifesto commitment to shooting’

‘Liberal Democrat manifesto to support shooting’
British Association for Shooting and Conservation

In an extraordinary email exchange, John Leech MP has pledged to defy the party whip and break with any manifesto pledge in support of blood sports. The Liberal Democrat MP was responding to claims by the British Association for Shooting and Conservation (BASC) that it had secured a manifesto commitment in support of shooting from the Lib Dems.

By tradition MPs of all parties have been given a free vote on blood sports, so a manifesto commitment binding Lib Dems to support shooting would be a controversial and unusual move. BASC was led to believe that it had secured the party’s support following an announcement made by Don Foster MP, Lib Dem Shadow Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport at its well attended rural reception, a party conference fringe meeting.

While suggesting that BASC is most likely mistaken, John Leech made clear that he would derogate from the party manifesto and defy the whip if necessary without hesitation.

John’s stance is to be applauded, although his willingness to so quickly and casually abandon his party’s manifesto is breathtaking. But Lib Dem MPs do have a tendency to feel less behoved to the party. Regarding their election as a consequence of local campaigning, rather than party label, can make them independent minded.

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