Joining the Liberal Democrats aged 65!

Michael Lilley Mayor of Ryde with heart drawn on palm of hand

Isle of Wight power shift: Cllr Michael Lilley bids farewell to Alliance Group (

Cllr Lilley – Statement 10th May 2023

After a deep reflection, I wish to announce that I am leaving the Alliance Group to join the Liberal Democrats. I stood as myself and under no political label as a local community activist in 2021 local elections and gained the largest majority on the Isle of Wight for Ryde Appley and Elmfield, my home. I felt the Alliance group fitted at the time to my beliefs and values and was the best place in the Council to support the interests of my residents as a strong non-conservative candidate after being in opposition between 2017 and 2021. On Ryde Town Council I have led the community activist Our Ryde movement which I am still a member. I am stepping down as Mayor of Ryde after 4 years and proud that Ryde Town Council has transformed as the second largest local authority on the Isle of Wight into an efficient “can do” deliverer of real change and economic and social vitality.

I am and always have been politically left of centre and never supported or voted for the Conservative Party. I started my adult life supporting Stephen Ross in 1974, who became the Island’s first Liberal MP since 1920’s. I voted Liberal Democrat the majority of my life until moving to the Green Party, then Independent, to being myself as a community activist and now full circle at 65, back to where I started as an Island Liberal supporter. I wish to thank the Alliance and my local Ryde Appley and Elmfield community for helping me realise that my belief and values are firmly liberal. I consulted my residents at my most recent monthly ward meeting in May and residents unanimously voted my move to the Lib Dems.

Since 2017, I have worked closely with Cllr Andrew Garratt and more recently with Cllr Nick Stuart and feel my residents’ interests and my own beliefs sit firmly with the Liberal Democrats and I thank them for approaching me to join them. All the things I believe in about human and civil rights, the fight against poverty, community-led innovation and liberty, climate change, mental health being as important as physical health, community-led and involved planning, the importance of voluntary sector, support and opportunities for young people, the importance of adult education and a caring and inclusive society are clearly in the Liberal Democratic manifesto. I wish to thank the spirit of Stephen Ross bringing me home after 49 years. It is never too late!

As part of the Island Liberal Democrat group at IW Council I will continue to support a non-Conservative administration and will continue to oppose the Conservative Party locally and nationally. I believe that the new East Wight constituency gives an opportunity for the east of the Island having a greater voice at Parliament and this voice would be better supported by a Liberal Democrat. The recent local elections across England showed how the Lib Dems are the leading opposition in South of England now to the Tories.  Stephen Ross MP (Liberal), I believe was the Island’s greatest and most caring MP who through a private member’s bill was the founder of the Homelessness Act 1977 which gave those in rental accommodation more rights and security. I am looking for the opportunity to supporting the Liberal Democrats in fighting the East Wight constituency in 2024 and end Conservative parliamentary domination on the Island since 2001.

I will continue to serve Ryde Appley and Elmfield to my best abilities and continue to work with and listen to my residents and residents of Ryde and Isle of Wight.     

Cllr Michael Lilley

Statement from Cllr Andrew Garratt, leader of the Isle of Wight Council Liberal Democrat group:

My colleague, Cllr Nick Stuart, and I very much welcome Cllr Michael Lilley to the Liberal Democrats.

“Michael and I were both first elected to Isle of Wight Council in 2017 and have worked closely together ever since. It’s been obvious that he has always tackled issues in a liberal way, working with residents and communities to understand what matters and affects them most, and then campaigning for change. 

“As a member of the Liberal Democrats, Nick and I look forward to working with Michael on pressing for action to tackle poverty, to provide housing that is truly affordable to rent and buy, to promote green economic development, and on protecting and enhancing our Island’s environment.”

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