Mike was born in Coventry, West Midlands, in 1983 and raised on the Canley estate, which had suffered from the collapse of industry in the city and had high levels of unemployment. The estate has been the topic of a number of papers, including one published by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation by Professor Harris Beider on white working-class views of neighbourhood, cohesion and change.
On his background, Mike says:
“My mum had to take on various jobs, including one stint cleaning a golf club. I’ll always remember it because one of the older committee members didn’t like us kids being there with her whilst she worked and wouldn’t accept the explanation that there was simply no childcare available on a Saturday morning. Things were tough for her.”
Mike’s father died in 2004 from lung cancer, which had a massive impact on Mike’s life.
“My father was a lorry driver who smoked around 40 cigarettes a day for years and could never break the habit. He was also a hard worker and loving father, and I remember him being very proud when he finally got to own his own house.”
It was shortly after his father’s passing that Mike got involved in politics, first with Coventry Conservatives before moving to Redditch in 2011.
Mike was elected to Redditch Borough Council in May 2018, with the smallest majority possible – just one vote.
“As a campaign manager for years, I kept telling people we need to knock every door because we only need one vote to win – little did I know it would be me who gets to live out that expression in real life!”
The day of the count was a tense occasion with all eyes on the Church Hill re-count. It wasn’t until the last pile of ballots that a stray vote was found and re-assigned.
Mike has since been extremely grateful to whoever that one single voter was, saying:
“Your vote truly made a difference – just one vote swung the outcome of the election in Church Hill, taking a political career from one and giving it to another. There are few moments in politics when the reality of ‘every vote counts’ truly hits home, but it did that day.”
Mike was elected to Worcestershire County Council in the shared Division of Redditch South along with Craig Warhurst. This time Mike was elected with a majority of 1,895 votes ahead of the nearest opposition party competitor.