Thursday 27 May 2021


The date has been set for the Batley and Spen by-election and it will be held five weeks today on July 1.  The vultures will be circling for Keir Starmer if Labour lose the seat, which they have held since 1997.  The party is pinning its hopes on a sympathy vote, having selected the sister of the late MP Jo Cox.  Cox had been the MP here for just over a year prior to her murder.

Labour were so desperate to select Kim Leadbeater that they waived a membership rule in order to allow her to stand.  Candidates are normally required to have at least one year's party membership in order to contest a seat, but Leadbeater only joined the party in 'the last month', although it is not clear if she joined before or after Tracy Brabin was elected West Yorkshire mayor.  She was one of the first to publicly declare an interest in standing, while claiming that she is 'no political animal' and Westminster needed more 'real people'.  Given what appears to have been a cynical and opportunist endeavour in obtaining the candidacy, Leadbeater will slot right in on the Westminster gravy train - should she win.

44-year-old Leadbeater is a personal trainer and former college lecturer who rose to prominence as an ambassador for the Jo Cox Foundation.  She was awarded an MBE this year in recognition of her voluntary work during the pandemic.  Like her sister, she is Batley born and bread.

Going up against Leadbeater will be Leeds Tory councillor Ryan Stephenson.  The Woodhouse ward which he represents is roughly ten miles from Batley, but that didn't do the party much harm in Hartlepool, where a councillor from 45 miles away won the seat.

The Green Party, George Galloway's Workers Party of Britain and the Yorkshire Party are among the other parties to have announced they will be contesting the by-election.

Labour will be defending a 3,525 majority going into this by-election, a majority that had already more than halved from the 8,961 majority the party enjoyed in the 2017 general election.  The Labour majority going into the recent Hartlepool by-election was 3,595.

Batley & Spen, 2019 general election

Tracy Brabin (Lab) 22,594 (42.7%) -12.8%
Mark Brooks (Con) 19,069 (36.0%) -2.8%
Paul Halloran (Ind) 6,432 (12.2%) New
John Lawson (LDem) 2,462 (4.7%) +2.4%
Clive Minihan (Brexit) 1,678 (3.2%) New
Ty Akram (Green) 692 (1.3%) n/c