|Conservative candidate Ryan Stephenson will be hoping to defeat Labour's|
Kim Leadbeater in Batley and Spen
Nominations have closed for the Batley and Spen by-election. A total of 16 candidates will contest the election, but there will be no candidates from Reform UK or the Reclaim Party. Both parties say they have stood aside in order to boost Tory chances of taking the seat from Labour. Reform's leader Richard Tice said:
"We do not want to split the vote and reduce the chances of Labour being ousted. While we do not support this government, particularly with its approach to lockdowns, the Northern Ireland Protocol and its new globalist tax agenda, a Tory win would lead to an early election - possibly next year - and hopefully be the final nail in Labour’s coffin".
Tice's sentiment was shared by Laurence Fox of Reclaim, who has also managed to persuade a popular independent to pull out of the by-election. Paul Halloran finished third here in 2019, beating the Lib Dems, Reform UK (then called the Brexit Party) and the Greens. Halloran is no fan of Labour either. Fox said:
"Over the past few weeks, I have been working closely with Paul Halloran who understands more about Batley and Spen than any of the opportunistic candidates standing in the by election. I have also spoken with many others from across the Batley and Spen constituency about what happened at Batley Grammar School. Paul and I have decided that we will not stand in the by election.It has been made clear to both of us that many people in Batley and Spen are fed up with the Labour Party. The Labour Party have lost their way. We cannot in good conscience stand and risk splitting the vote and condemning Batley and Spen to any more years of Labour control. The Labour Party is one of the most divisive and intolerant political parties in the UK".
Conversely, the Green Party has stood aside in order to try and help Labour hold the seat. The Greens had initially selected a candidate, but dropped him after historical tweets were uncovered, reportedly of a homophobic nature. Leftist parties that are standing include the Alliance for Green Socialism (Mike Davies), the Workers Party of Britain (George Galloway) and the Yorkshire Party (Corey Robinson). The remoaners' party, Rejoin EU, is also standing (Andrew Smith) as are the Social Democratic Party (Oliver Purser).
There are a whole host of right wing, conservative, nationalist and anti-lockdown candidates including Paul Bickerdike for the Christian Peoples Alliance, Thérèse Hirst for the English Democrats, Susan Laird for David Kurten's Heritage Party, Jack Thomson for UKIP, Jonathan Tilt for the Freedom Alliance and Anne Marie Waters, the leader of the For Britain Movement.
As per usual in our two-party state, the winner will almost certainly be from either Labour or the Tories. Labour are aiming for the sympathy vote by installing the sister of the murdered Batley MP Jo Cox as their candidate. This is despite the fact she was not even a party member until very recently, her membership application appearing to have cynically coincided with Tracy Brabin's election as West Yorkshire mayor. Kim Leadbeater will go up against Tory candidate Ryan Stephenson, a councillor in Leeds, to the north of Batley.
One advantage Leadbeater has is that she is a local candidate, in fact remarkably she is the only candidate on the ballot paper who has provided a home address in the Batley and Spen constituency. The nomination papers published this afternoon show that candidates have flocked from far and wide, including candidates from Scotland (Galloway), Northern Ireland (Fransen), Hampshire (Laud Hope), Oxfordshire (Smith), Tyneside (Thomson) and County Durham (Purser and Waters).
Intriguingly, despite a requirement for only ten nominations from constituents in order to stand - along with a £500 deposit - both Galloway and the Conservatives have provided far in excess of that number on their election papers. Worryingly for Labour, 19 of the 20 names on Galloway's paperwork are Muslim. The Muslim vote could be crucial for Labour in a constituency with a large ethnic Pakistani population, so if Galloway splits that in any way it would make their fight to hold on to the seat even harder. July 1 will be a squeaky bum time for Keir Starmer.
Batley and Spen candidates 2021
Paul Bickerdike (Christian)
Mike Davies (Green Soc)
Jayda Fransen (Ind)
George Galloway (Workers)
Thomas Gordon (LDem)
Thérèse Hirst (Eng Dem)
Howling Laud Hope (Loony)
Susan Laird (Heritage)
Kim Leadbeater (Lab)
Oliver Purser (SDP)
Corey Robinson (Yorks)
Andrew Smith (Rejoin)
Ryan Stephenson (Con)
Jack Thomson (UKIP)
Jonathan Tilt (Freedom)
Jonathan Tilt (Freedom)
Anne Marie Waters (For Britain)
The by-election will take place on July 1. Labour will be defending a 3,525 majority and have held the seat since 1997, before which it was blue. The most recent result can be found below.
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