Conservative MP Mike Weatherley mixes music and politics but his life is about much more than just a party
The past week has been a busy time for Hove MP Mike Weatherley. He hosted the finals of Rock the House, billed as Parliament’s biggest competition, last Tuesday (1 July). He started the annual contest in 2010, giving every MP the chance to nominate talented, local young rock bands and musicians. It brought together constituencies of people who might normally never have mixed.
Mr Weatherley celebrated his 57th birthday a day later, and on Thursday he announced that he would stand down at the general election in May next year. He was elected in 2010, but two years ago he suffered cancer of the oesophagus. He had major surgery, but has never spoken about it publicly.
Although Mr Weatherley has been given the all-clear, he said in his resignation letter to Prime Minister David Cameron: “Ultimately, beating cancer two years ago has led me to review what I want for the future. It has been the toughest decision of my life but I do feel that now is the time to move on.”
He also wrote: “Over the past year I have taken immense pride in serving as your intellectual property adviser. I am sure that you will agree that we have made huge steps towards really getting politicians and industry talking – which is key to making the most of our country’s wealth of creative talent.”
This was one of the reasons for setting up Rock the House. The winners partied on the terrace of the House of Commons last Tuesday where they met industry bigwigs and politicians, including the Minister for Intellectual Property, Lord Younger. The young and talented were recognised and encouraged.
At the same time, senior figures from the creative industries – a key component of the local economy in Brighton and Hove – were able to bend politicians’ ears. Mr Weatherley has been a keen advocate for trying to make sure people who create music and film are paid for their work. He has been keen to strengthen copyright law and enforcement and to ensure that his fellow MPs understand the case that he has been making.
Perhaps that is no surprise, given his work as European vice-president of the Motion Picture Licensing Company before he became an MP. He also worked in the music industry. Lord Younger said: “Mike has been a great help to me in my job and he’s very passionate about it.”
His competitions, campaigns and lobbying around intellectual property form only one part of his work as an MP. Mr Weatherley also pushed hard to make squatting in houses and flats a criminal offence. He achieved a change in the law but found himself vilified by some, and even received death threats.
He is a keen supporter of animal rights and was one of the new breed of Conservative MPs who oppose fox hunting and defended the ban.
He is also an opponent of nuclear power and an advocate of renewable energy. Just over a week ago he took Energy and Climate Change Minister Greg Barker to Shoreham Harbour. The pair took a look at the latest array of solar panels to have been put up by the Brighton Energy Co-op.
Much of Mr Weatherley’s energy has been consumed by being an advocate for his party and the government in Hove, and an advocate for Hove to the government. He has brought ministers to see how policies are working on the ground and flagged up local concerns.
Like all MPs he has to spend a great deal of time in or around Parliament so that he can vote as and when told. He has also put pressure on Brighton and Hove City Council over issues such as school places and the future of the King Alfred.
In his resignation letter, he said: “My years representing the wonderful people of Hove and Portslade have been one of the most fulfilling periods of my life which I will look back on with very fond memories. I have made so many friends over the years, including so many of my loyal supporters both in and out of Brighton and Hove Conservatives. I cannot thank them enough.”
This article appears in Latest magazine today (Tuesday 8 July).