The Labour Party candidate Kim Leadbeater, sister of former MP Jo Cox, has beaten rivals by 323 votes to win the by-election in Batley and Spen. The victory helps to ease pressure on party leader, Sir Keir Starmer, in the wake of recent electoral defeats, and will allow Cox’s values to continue to be shared from her home constituency.
Leadbeater, 44, said she was “absolutely delighted that the people of Batley and Spen have rejected division and they’ve voted for hope”. She will now hold the same seat previously won by her sister, Jo Cox, who was murdered by a far-right extremist while on the campaign trail in 2016. Her message of unity and fight to combat loneliness have been championed since her death, through the efforts of her fellow MPs and the More in Common Network, an organisation named for a quote from her first parliamentary speech.
George Galloway also contested the seat for the Workers Party of Britain, coming third with around 20% of the vote. According to reports, he intends to challenge the results, despite polling over three times his expected number of votes. Following his stints in office for the Labour Party, Galloway and his team have promised to “demand parental involvement in the school curriculum”, after a cartoon depicting the Prophet Muhammad was shown to students at Batley Grammar School in March, and has repeatedly criticised elements of the sex education curriculum within schools, including discussions of gender identity.
The defeat of Conservative Ryan Stephenson has been blamed on recent accusations concerning Matt Hancock, with Party co-chair Amanda Milling admitting that the issue of the former health secretary breaking lockdown rules by kissing a government aide, “did come up at the weekend.”
Turnout was only 47.6% according to Kirklees Council, with 37,786 verified ballots cast from an electorate of approximately 79,373. The seat was held by the Conservatives from 1983 until Tony Blair’s landslide victory in 1997.