Interview with… Greg Mulholland, Lib Dem PPC for Leeds NW
Greg is seeking re-election as MP for the Leeds North West constituency. He won the seat from Labour in 2005 with 37.2% of the vote (Labout got 33%) and with the Conservatives ploughing a fair amount of money into the campaign of their candidate Julia Mulligan, this constituency is one that’s attracting a fair bit of political and media attention.
I heard Greg interviewed on BBC Radio Leeds recently and he said ‘the people of Leeds are crying out for real change’ – therefore I wanted to know what Greg has achieved as MP over these past five years and why the voters should not seek a ‘change’ from him?
Greg responded by claiming he already has been that ‘real change’ to the area and that he represents a different style of politics. He believes he is the most accessible and visible MP this area has ever had and truly stands up for local people on issues that matter to them.
Greg’s use of the words ‘accessible and visible’ are interesting as my own (admittedly very rough) poll of students showed only 9 out of 20 knew who Greg was. As Greg’s 2005 election victory would have undoubtedly benefited from the student-friendly anti-Iraq War and tuition fees policies, is Greg doing all he can to engage with students as well as local residents?
Greg challenged me on my claim and said he is indeed known and recognised when he goes canvassing around the student areas. He also stressed that to him, all demographics and communities are of equal value in his constituency.
As we were talking about students, I couldn’t help put question Greg about a £5,000 donation the Leeds North West Liberal Democrats received from Park Land Properties. With student landlords having such s strong market in the Hyde Park and Headingley area this donation must highlighted, but I wanted Greg to be given a fair opportunity to clarify.
Greg replied by saying the donation was indeed given to his office by Park Lane Properties – but there have been no favours given to the letting agents. He ends his answer by claiming that there have been many times when his political work has actually frustrated local landlords.
Keeping with current ‘student issues’, Mephedrone officially became an illegal drug the morning I interviewed Greg. Greg spoke strongly in favour of criminalising the stuff but with such a dense student population in his constituency how/will the new laws on Mephedrone affect the area?
Greg said that he spoke in favour of criminalisation in response to requests from the student union and local residents.
I noticed Greg’s facebook status from Thursday 15th April was ‘Today I signed up to join, if reelected, the cross party group of MPs to raise concerns about the Digital Economy Bill post election. According to ‘didmympshowupornot’ Greg didn’t vote on the Bill last week, so as Oliver Westwood asked on my notes, ‘why did Greg chose not to fight for our civil liberties on this very important issue?’
After a bit of a ‘dispute’ over the parliamentary system, Greg clarified that he did oppose the Bill, the reason he didn’t vote is because he was busy campaigning here in Leeds and the ‘wash-up’ meant he knew the Bill would be voted in regardless.
Now, another issue which was flagged up to me a fair few times was Greg’s (non) voting record on equal gay rights and the allegation that he has consistently turned down invites from the Leeds LGBT society to speak at events.
Greg challenged my allegation and said he had indeed voted on the equality bill and that this issue is whipped up by rival politicians as a smear against him.
Finally, I concluded by asking Greg about his thoughts on the key issues facing Leeds over the next 5 years his campaign so far, his belief in being re-elected and Nick Clegg’s performance on last night’s Leaders Debate.
What do you think? I’m interested to know what your thoughts of the interview. Where my questions relevant and in the public interest? Should I have challenged more on some points? Did he answer my questions to your satisfaction?
Please do let me know your opinion – firstname.lastname@example.org