Early Roots & Background
Mike Rouse was born in Coventry, West Midlands, in 1983 to his parents, Maxine and Michael (known as Mick). As a young child, Mike was raised in a deprived area known as Canley, which had suffered from the collapse of industry in the city and had high levels of unemployment.
“My mum had to take on various jobs. I remember she was once a cleaner at a golf club because she used to take us kids with her on a Saturday morning and we’d sit amongst the empty glasses watching kids cartoons on the TV to keep us quiet.”
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, which is a habit he had since he was about 10 years old. Looking back, knowing what we know today, it seems obvious that smoking in an environment rich in diesel fumes is perhaps not the healthiest, but he had to make ends meet. He was a huge influence in my life, and though I miss him every day, I know he was very proud of the stability and security I was just starting to find as a young adult – it used to worry him a lot when I was going through periods of unemployment for instance.”
It was shortly after his father’s passing that Mike got involved in politics, first with Coventry Conservatives before moving to Redditch in 2011.
Election to Council in 2018
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 who decided to don their shoes and go to the polling station on that night.
“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.”