Labour has clung on to its northern constituency seat of Batley and Spen in Thursday’s by-election, with party candidate Kim Leadbeater winning by just 323 votes.
The seat was left vacant after former soap opera actress Tracy Babin MP was elected the metropolitan mayor of West Yorkshire. Ms Babin had held the seat since the murder of Jo Cox MP — Ms Leadbeater’s sister — in 2016. Labour has held the seat since the New Labour Tony Blair revolution of 1997.
According to voting figures reported by The Times, Labour’s Kim Leadbeater won with 13,296 votes (35.3 per cent), beating out the Conservatives’ Ryan Stephenson, who gained 12,973 votes (34.4 per cent), while in third place was former Labour MP George Galloway, now representing the Workers Party, who won 8,264 votes (21.9 per cent).
While holding the seat, Labour only maintained it with a majority of just 323 — a fraction of the 3,525-vote majority Ms Babin obtained in the December 2019 General Election.
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Polls from as recently as June 19th had put the Conservatives in the lead with 47 per cent, followed by Labour at 41 per cent.
Conservative Party co-chairman Amanda Milling admitted that former Health Secretary Matt Hancock’s affair and breaking social distancing guidelines might have been a factor in the by-election, telling Time Radio that it “did come up at the weekend”.
Labour’s leader Sir Keir Starmer hailed the win as a “fantastic result”. Media reported of alleged plots within the party in the days running up to the election to remove Starmer if another Labour seat were lost under his watch. Sir Keir had said that he would not quit if Labour lost Batley and Spen.
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