Monday, 19 April 2010

Go, Leese! Just go!

The major local political news story in Manchester over the last few days hasn't been the local election, but the fact that Richard Leese has had to “temporarily” step down as Leader of Manchester City Council after accepting a police caution for assaulting a 16 year old girl. It seems to have been some kind of domestic argument over medicating a cat, that blew up out of proportion somehow. Whether he will return to his £40,000 a year job as council bossman is unclear at this time.

However, it is worth pointing out that he previously spearheaded a “zero tolerance” campaign on domestic violence.

My opinion is that Richard Leese should have stepped down a long time before this incident happened.

This is the man who tried to bully the people of Manchester into voting for congestion charging, claiming there was “no Plan B” in the event of a “no” vote.

This is the man who encouraged thousands of ticketless Rangers fans to crowd into the centre of Manchester in 2008, leading to some of the worst rioting we've seen in this city in recent years.

This is the man who is happy to collaborate with this government's discredited and expensive ID cards scheme.

This is the man who has overseen annual increases in Council Tax even during times of recession, imposing an unnecessary economic burden on the working poor of this city.

This is the man who's idea of economic regeneration usually involves over-use of the wrecking ball.

This is the man, in short, who is the head of a council that has brought this city to its knees.

He should just go.

It's unfortunate that Leese's term of office as a councillor for Crumpsall doesn't expire until 2012. The honourable thing for him to do would be to resign as a councillor in order to force a by-election and let the people of Crumpsall decide whether they still want him. But I don't expect him to do that. Instead, he will attempt to live this incident down.

But there is no way he should ever be re-instated as Leader of the Council. Manchester deserves better.

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