Batley and Spen by-election: Labour leader Keir Starmer visits

image sourcePA Media
image captionThe Labour leader toured the rugby club ground with Labour candidate Kim Leadbeater

The upcoming by-election in West Yorkshire is not a referendum on the leadership of the Labour Party, its candidate has said.

Kim Leadbeater, who is standing for the Batley and Spen seat, was joined by Sir Keir Starmer as she campaigned earlier.

She is defending Labour's 3,525 majority in the constituency, after its loss in May's Hartlepool by-election.

Ms Leadbeater insisted the election on 1 July was about the people of Batley and Spen.

She said she "absolutely" didn't see the vote as a measure of Sir Keir's role as Labour leader, and vowed to focus on "the people of Batley and Spen".

"It's about who's the best person to represent them in Parliament," she said.

'Work my socks off'

Ms Leadbeater is the sister of the constituency's former MP Jo Cox, who was murdered in 2016. Both grew up in the area.

"I am the only person out of the 16 candidates that lives in Batley and Spen," Ms Leadbeater said. "Their problems are my problems. I know about the speeding cars and I know about the potholes, because they're outside my house.

"So, my narrative is very much about 'this is who I am, I've lived here all my life, I was born here', and I would work my socks off for this area because I love it."

Ms Leadbeater and Sir Keir were told about a range of community projects as they toured the rugby league club's ground - claimed to be the oldest professional sports arena in the world.

The candidate said it was important the leader met people from the constituency and listened to what they had to say.

"I've chosen to stand as a Labour candidate but I'm under no illusion that the Labour Party has got some work to do," she said.

"I don't think he's under any illusion about that either."

image sourcePA Media
image captionThe by-election is seen as a crucial test of Labour's appeal in its northern constituencies

The by-election was called after Tracy Brabin was elected as the mayor of West Yorkshire in May. She was last elected as the area's MP in 2019, where she beat her Conservative rival by 3,525 votes.

The poll will be contested by 16 candidates (listed alphabetically by surname):

  • Paul Bickerdike - Christian Peoples Alliance
  • Mike Davies - Alliance For Green Socialism
  • Jayda Fransen - Independent
  • George Galloway - Workers Party
  • Tom Gordon - Liberal Democrats
  • Thérèse Hirst - English Democrats
  • Howling Laud Hope - The Official Monster Raving Loony Party
  • Susan Laird - Heritage Party
  • Kim Leadbeater - Labour Party
  • Oliver Purser - Social Democratic Party
  • Corey Robinson - Yorkshire Party
  • Andrew Smith - Rejoin EU
  • Ryan Stephenson - Conservative Party
  • Jack Thomson - UK Independence Party
  • Jonathan Tilt - Freedom Alliance
  • Anne Marie Waters - The For Britain Movement

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