Batley & Spen 2021 by-election results
- Kim Leadbeater (Lab) 13,296 (35.27%)
- Ryan Stephenson (C) 12,973 (34.42%)
- George Galloway (WP) 8,264 (21.92%)
- Thomas Gordon (LD) 1,254 (3.33%)
- Corey Robinson (Yorkshire) 816 (2.16%)
- Therese Hirst (Eng Dem) 207 (0.55%)
- Jack Thomson (UKIP) 151 (0.40%)
- Howling Laud Hope (Loony) 107 (0.28%)
- Mike Davies (Green Soc) 104 (0.28%)
- Paul Bickerdike (CPA) 102 (0.27%)
- Jonathan Tilt (FA) 100 (0.27%)
- Anne Marie Waters (FB) 97 (0.26%)
- Andrew Smith (Rejoin) 75 (0.20%)
- Oliver Purser (Soc Dem) 66 (0.18%)
- Jayda Fransen (Ind) 50 (0.13%)
- Susan Laird (Heritage) 33 (0.09%)
- Lab maj 323 (0.86%)
- Electorate 79,373; Turnout 37,695 (47.49%)
Sir Keir Starmer has staved off a political crisis after the Labour Party clung on to Batley and Spen in a crucial by-election despite George Galloway’s efforts to woo Muslim voters in one of the most fractious campaigns in recent memory.
Labour candidate Kim Leadbeater, the sister of murdered MP Jo Cox, managed to fend off Tory challenger Ryan Stephenson, who came second, and maverick Mr Galloway, who came third, with a tiny majority of 323.
Speaking at Cathedral House in Huddersfield after the result was announced, Miss Leadbeater thanked West Yorkshire Police for the protection she had been given amid claims supporters of Mr Galloway’s Workers Party had intimidated her, but said: ‘Sadly I needed them more than ever.’
The Labour MP added: ‘I’m absolutely delighted that the people of Batley and Spen have rejected division and they’ve voted for hope.’ She thanked her family saying ‘without them I could not have got through the last five years, never mind the last five weeks.’
Party leader Sir Keir said the by-election was a ‘fantastic result for the brilliant and brave’ Miss Leadbeater, adding: ‘Kim ran a positive campaign of hope, in the face of division. She will be an outstanding Labour MP for Batley and Spen.’
Deputy leader Angela Rayner, who was accused of plotting to challenge Sir Keir if Labour had lost the vote, tweeted this morning: ‘Congrats to @kimleadbeater and the whole Labour team. Thank you to the people of Batley & Spen It was so good to see so many activists out on the doorstep.’
Brendan Cox, the widower of Mrs Cox, the Batley and Spen MP who was murdered by a far-Right extremist in June 2016 during the EU referendum campaign, tweeted: ‘We are all incredibly proud of @kimleadbeater today and Jo would have been too.
‘While the result between the two main parties was close the extremists & haters were left trailing. The people of Batley & Spen have voted for decency and positivity once again.’
But speaking to media outside Cathedral House, Mr Galloway said he will apply to the courts to have the election result set aside.
Boris Johnson’s inroads into Labour strongholds has been halted for a second time in a month, following the party’s defeat to the Liberal Democrats at the Chesham and Amersham by-election.
The latest failure comes after disgraced former Health Secretary Matt Hancock was caught flouting his own social distancing rules with his mistress, and after the Government chose to extend lockdown by at least another month to July 19, the new so-called Freedom Day.
Sir John Curtice, who is in charge of the main exit polls at general elections, said some in the Tory Party may blame the Hancock saga for today’s loss.
He told the Today programme: ‘The Tories will be kicking themselves that they did not manage to win… one guess is perhaps the finger of blame may perhaps be pointed by some of his colleagues at Matt Hancock.
‘There’s been some signs in the polls that resignation has indeed has seen some slippage in the Conservative position over Labour.
‘Given how narrow Labours victory has been that slip is bound to be another source of speculation about why in the end the Conservatives didn’t make it.’
Kim Leadbeater of the Labour Party sticks up her thumb as she reacts to the media after winning the Batley and Spen by-election this morning
Sir Keir Starmer’s leadership staved clear of crisis today after the Labour Party clung onto Batley and Spen in a crucial by-election, despite hard-Left insurgent George Galloway’s efforts to woo Muslim voters in one of the most fractious campaigns in recent memory
Ms Leadbeater paid tribute to her late sister this morning and said that she hoped she could be half the MP she was
Labour candidate Kim Leadbeater, the sister of murdered MP Jo Cox, has managed to fend off Tory challenger Ryan Stephenson, who came second, and maverick Mr Galloway, who came third, with a majority of just 323
George Galloway and Ryan Stephenson at Cathedral House in Huddersfield, for the Batley and Spen by-election
Labour Party leader Sir Keir Starmer leaves his London home on the morning of the Batley and Spen by-election
Labour candidate Kim Leadbeater celebrates after winning at Cathedral House in Huddersfield
Ms Leadbeater paid tribute to her late sister this morning and said that she hoped she could be half the MP she was.
She told BBC Breakfast: ‘It’s inevitable not to think about Jo and mum and dad, and Jo’s children. It has been a very emotional campaign and today is very emotional for me, for lots of reasons… if I can be half the MP Jo was, I know I will do her proud. Fingers crossed that I do a fantastic job, just as she did.’
Earlier, she said in her victory speech: ‘There’s way too many people to mention by name, but I do want to refer to my family and my friends, who, without them, I could not have got through the last five years, never mind the last five weeks.
‘My amazing parents and my wonderful partner, and I want to give a special shout out to my niece and nephew who I cannot wait to hug as soon as I see them’, she added referring to the children of her late sister.
After taking the seat vacated by Labour’s Tracey Brabin becoming the mayor of West Yorkshire in May, Ms Leadbeater also thanked the police for their help during the hard fought campaign, without going into specifics.
‘I want to say a huge thank you to the police who, sadly, I have needed more than ever over the last few weeks.
‘And I want to say a huge thank you to the whole Labour Party team for the hours, and the time, and the commitment that they have put into supporting me and helping me to get to this fantastic result this evening.’
She added to BBC Breakfast: ‘It is very sad that when I should be incredibly excited – which I am and really looking forward to the future – that I am also conscious of security and safety.’
‘We have got to reconnect with some of our voters… I don’t think there is something fundamentally wrong but there is work to be done.
‘What I found during the campaign is, whatever people’s backgrounds, we all care about the same things – we want close communities, good schools, good social care, a strong NHS… the values of the Labour party around those key issues are really important to pretty much everybody.’
After the early morning declaration, Ms Leadbeater said after catching up on some sleep and ‘maybe having a few glasses of fizz’ she would step into her work as soon as possible.
She said: ‘I think the campaign has highlighted that there’s lots to do. But I’m going to crack on with it and I will do my very best to represent the whole of Batley and Spen as their new MP. I am absolutely delighted that the people of Batley and Spen have rejected division and they voted for hope.’
Earlier, she said in her victory speech: ‘There’s way too many people to mention by name, but I do want to refer to my family and my friends, who, without them, I could not have got through the last five years, never mind the last five weeks’
Kim Leadbeater of the Labour Party reacts after winning the Batley and Spen by-election at Cathedral House
Speaking after her victory was declared, Miss Leadbeater thanked West Yorkshire Police for the protection she had been given amid allegations of intimidation by supporters of Mr Galloway’s Workers Party, but remarked: ‘Sadly I needed them more than ever’
A supporter of the Monster Raving Loony Party waits as a bundle recount is undertaken for the Batley and Spen by-election at Cathedral House in Huddersfield
Workers Party candidate George Galloway at Cathedral House in Huddersfield talks to supporters during the Batley and Spen by-election count
Labour leader Sir Keir said the crunch by-election was a ‘fantastic result for the brilliant and brave’ Miss Leadbeater, adding: ‘Kim ran a positive campaign of hope, in the face of division. She will be an outstanding Labour MP for Batley and Spen.’
Deputy leader Angela Rayner tweeted: ‘It was good to see so many activists out on the doorstep’
Brendan Cox, the widower of Miss Cox, the Batley and Spen MP who was murdered by a far-Right extremist in June 2016 during the EU referendum campaign, tweeted: ‘We are all incredibly proud of @kimleadbeater today and Jo would have been too’
Speculation had been rife Sir Keir could have faced a leadership challenge if Labour had lost yet another Red Wall election.
But the party is likely to regard the by-election as a potential comeback for him, with a source telling Mail on Sunday columnist Dan Hodges: ‘Everyone’s been claiming this is a referendum on Keir’s leadership. Well, we’ve won.’
Yet Lord Adonis, a Blairite former cabinet minister, said the situation for Labour was ‘grim’ despite the by-election success.
‘The tiny Labour majority of 323 in Batley and Spen will stave off an immediate leadership challenge to Keir Starmer, just as the tiny Labour majority of 683 in the Peterborough by-election of June 2019 preserved Corbyn’s leadership two years ago,’ he said. ‘But obviously the situation is grim.’
It follows a divisive campaign in which Miss Leadbeater faced abuse from rival canvassers but was also accused of stoking racial and sectarian tensions by distributing leaflets aimed at the Pakistani Muslim population in the area.
Turnout was significantly down on the 66.5 per cent attained at the 2019 General Election at 47.61 per cent. However, there is normally a 15-point drop in turnout at by-elections compared to general elections.
As the polls closed at 10pm, Miss Leadbeater accused her political rivals of ‘intimidation and violence’ and said there had been ‘some unacceptable lows’ during the six-week campaign for the West Yorkshire seat.
In a statement published on Twitter, she called on the victor to ‘bring our community together and start working for local people’ after a vicious campaign by Labour canvassers and supporters of Mr Galloway’s Workers Party.
Miss Leadbeater, whose sister was murdered by a far-Right extremist during the 2016 referendum on EU membership, said: ‘There have been many highs of this election campaign but sadly there have also been some unacceptable lows.
‘The acts of intimidation and violence by some who have come here with the sole aim of sowing division have been deeply upsetting to witness. Whatever the result tonight, the first priorities of the new MP must be to bring our community together and start working for local people in every part of the constituency I am proud to call my home.’
Votes are counted for the Batley and Spen by-election at Cathedral House
Votes are counted at Cathedral House in Huddersfield, for the Batley and Spen by-election ahead of Miss Leadbeater’s victory this morning
Votes are counted at Cathedral House in Huddersfield, for the Batley and Spen by-election
The Labour victory is likely to lead to deter any potential challengers from running against Sir Keir amid rumours that Miss Rayner had received the backing of major trade unions if she had decided to run against her boss in the event of a defeat.
However, the deputy leader has apparently not approached any unions directly or told them that she wants the job.
It follows new polling this week which suggested as many as four in 10 party members would want him to stand down and make for new leadership in the wake of a loss.
Her spokesman told the Times: ‘These apparent conversations are news to Angela. She has been campaigning to get the vote out for Kim and has not had a conversation with anyone – from a trade union or otherwise – regarding the leadership of the Labour Party.’
On Thursday the Ashton under Lyne MP called reports she had been canvassing support from MPs and trade unions ‘news to me’.
Meanwhile, her allies told the Guardian she does not want to stand now and they are concerned about the risk to her reputation if she stabs Sir Keir in the back.
Mr Galloway’s Workers Party targeted Labour’s Asian and white working-class coalition in a bid to topple Sir Keir’s candidate.
In a polling day video, the former Labour MP said he had a ‘real chance to bring about the biggest shock in British political history’ and warned: ‘One thing is certain: it’s curtains for Keir.’
Tensions flared between Mr Galloway’s party and Labour supporters as both sides sought the support of the constituency’s Asian communities by grandstanding on international issues including Kashmir and Palestine.
George Galloway of the Workers Party reacts after the announcement of the results of the Batley and Spen by-election at Cathedral House
Prime Minister Boris Johnson pictured with Tory candidate for Batley and Spen Ryan Stephenson
Labour party candidate Kim Leadbeater leaves Norristhorpe United Reformed Church polling station after casting her vote in the West Yorkshire constituency by-election at Batley and Spen
Ballot boxes arrive at Cathedral House in Huddersfield, ready for the votes to be counted in the Batley and Spen by-election at Norristhorpe United Reformed Church in Liversedge
Ballot boxes arrive at Cathedral House in Huddersfield, ready for the votes to be counted in the Batley and Spen by-election
Kim Leadbeater, whose sister Miss Cox was murdered by a neo-Nazi terrorist during the 2016 referendum on EU membership, said there have been ‘some unacceptable lows’ during the six-week campaign for the seat in the West Yorkshire constituency
Voters in the West Yorkshire constituency of Batley and Spen are going to the polls in a by-election touted as a fundamental test of Sir Keir Starmer’s leadership of the Labour Party
Labour is defending a majority of more than 3,000 in the seat but the bookies have the Conservatives as odds-on favourites to follow up their victory in Hartlepool in May and heap further pressure on Sir Keir
Labour is under pressure after it circulated a leaflet critical of Boris Johnson’s diplomatic dealings with Indian president Narendra Modi – a Hindu nationalist – in an area with a sizable Muslim population
Earlier this week, Labour lashed out over a fake leaflet which purported to have been released by the Trades Union Congress (TUC) highlighting party leader Keir Starmer’s support for Black Lives Matter in a bid to hit his popularity among working class white voters
Sir Keir’s party was accused of stoking religious tensions after distributing a campaign leaflet which printed a photo of Mr Johnson shaking hands with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, a Hindu nationalist, in an area with a sizable Muslim population.
An arrow pointing to the photo said: ‘The risk of voting for anyone but Labour is clear.’ Mr Johnson also faced allegations he acted slowly on closing UK borders earlier this year despite concerns about the so-called Delta coronavirus variant because he wanted a trade deal with India.
Last week, supporters of Mr Galloway were accused of using the recent fighting between Israel and Hamas in Palestine – and the Jewish heritage of Sir Keir’s wife – to attack Labour.
Sir Keir condemned as ‘disgraceful’ the abuse Miss Leadbeater faced from a man who challenged her over the situation in Kashmir and her stance on LGBT+ education in schools amid what he said were concerns from Muslim parents.
It comes after a teacher at Batley Grammar School was suspended after Muslim parents complained he had showed a caricature of the Prophet Muhammad to a blasphemy class.
Though an independent inquiry ruled that he could rejoin the school, the teacher continues to live in hiding. Voters have been concerned about rising crime, the closure of the Batley police station and the state of the economy after successive lockdowns.
An elderly Labour activist was allegedly physically attacked and pelted with eggs last week – with West Yorkshire Police confirming an 18-year-old man from Batley had been arrested on suspicion of assault.
Miss Leadbeater is the sister of former Batley and Spen Miss Cox, who was murdered in the constituency in 2016. She cast her vote early on Thursday morning in the Liversedge area, giving a thumbs-up to photographers.
She stressed she is the only one of the 16 candidates eligible to vote because she lives and works in the constituency.
In a message to voters after polls closed, Mr Stephenson said: ‘Whatever the result, you proved that more and more local people are ready for change.’
Labour Leader Keir Starmer and Labour candidate Kim Leadbeater during a visit to the Jo Cox Community Wood in Liversedge
Labour party candidate Kim Leadbeater leaves Norristhorpe United Reformed Church polling station after casting her vote in the West Yorkshire constituency by-election at Batley and Spen
A man leaves Batley Town Hall aftert casting his vote on July 1, 2021 in Batley
Labour party candidate Kim Leadbeater leaves Norristhorpe United Reformed Church polling station today after casting her vote in the West Yorkshire constituency
Voters in the West Yorkshire constituency of Batley & Spen are heading to the polls in a crunch by-election which is being widely touted as a referendum on Sir Keir Starmer’s leadership of the Labour Party
Allies of Angela Rayner have been laying the groundwork for her to launch a leadership challenge against Sir Keir if Labour loses the crunch Batley and Spen by-election
Sir Keir’s spokesman insisted the leader is on a ‘four-year path’ to lead the party back into power and would not be standing down if he oversaw another electoral defeat.
‘But he played down the prospect of a victory by saying it ‘has always been a marginal seat’ and that winning ‘was always going to be challenging’.
The Batley and Spen by-election was triggered after Tracy Brabin, who won the seat for Labour in 2019 with a 3,525 majority over the Conservatives, was elected as the mayor of West Yorkshire in May.
Ms Brabin, who quit after being elected mayor of West Yorkshire, also claimed last night that activists had been pelted with eggs and kicked in the head while on the campaign trail earlier this week.
She said she was leafleting with ‘colleagues, volunteers, campaigners’ in Batley on Sunday when they ‘were followed, verbally abused and physically assaulted by a group of young men’.
She said: ‘The group I was with included young people and the elderly. I witnessed them being egged, pushed and forced to the ground and kicked in the head.’
West Yorkshire Police confirmed on Sunday evening it was investigating, and Ms Brabin – who also holds the police and crime commissioner responsibility for the region – praised officers for their swift response.
She said: ‘We know why tensions are rising in our streets. Those who want to sow division are not welcome in our community. The actions of these people do not represent the Batley and Spen I know. We are kinder than this.’
Labour MP for Halifax Holly Lynch added: ‘There has been a series of increasingly serious and violent attacks in recent days and this is absolutely unacceptable. Lawless thugs are seeking to intimidate and attack those involved in the proper democratic process.’
Residents are voting amid accusations of foul play. Earlier this week, Labour lashed out over a fake leaflet allegedly released by the Trades Union Congress which highlighted Sir Keir Starmer’s support for Black Lives Matter in a bid to hit his popularity among white working-class voters.
The TUC said it was part of a ‘dirty tricks campaign’ and that those responsible ‘should be ashamed of themselves’.