Batley and spen

The Batley and Spen result is a rejection of identity politics

What should we make of the Batley and Spen by-election, won by Labour with a majority of just 323 votes? The victory, slim though it may be, is a credit to Kim Leadbeater who – with a gutsy campaign – has proved her doubters wrong and done her sister, the late Jo Cox, proud. This was by no means an easy campaign to fight. During the most toxic by-election for many years, Leadbeater became a target for two hostile and overlapping groups: aggressive self-proclaimed Muslim ‘leaders’, who with George Galloway tried to prise the constituency’s large Muslim population away from Labour, and the far-left in the party, who tried to use

Can Labour afford to continue its culture war?

After being soundly beaten by the Tories in Hartlepool and winning a paltry 1.6 per cent of the vote share in Chesham and Amersham, Labour have managed to cling on in the Batley and Spen by-election by 323 votes. While the result gives the party’s under-pressure leader Sir Keir Starmer some breathing space – and will give his party some confidence – holding on to a seat in a by-election with a significantly reduced majority should not be cause for major celebration either. The fact that the left-wing, ‘anti-woke’ firebrand George Galloway won an impressive 22 per cent of the vote in this election should concern Labour’s campaigns team as

Nick Tyrone

The Tories overplayed their hand in Batley and Spen

Over the course of the past two months, we’ve had three by-elections in England. One of them was a huge Tory gain in a previously safe Labour seat. Another was a Lib Dem by-election victory over the Conservatives in the London commuter belt. Then, yesterday, Labour held Batley and Spen, a seat that has been theirs since 1997. On paper, this wasn’t a bad run of results for Boris Johnson, as head of a party that has been in government for 11 years. Except, no one is going to be talking about it in those terms after Number 10 allowed the narrative to spin away from them completely. Instead of

Stephen Daisley

The price Labour paid for victory in Batley

While Labour’s narrow victory in Batley and Spen will mostly be analysed through the prism of Sir Keir Starmer’s leadership, a more compelling fault line is the apparent estrangement of some Muslim voters from a party that has until now been able to rely on their support. Labour may have held on but it also showed its hand. During the campaign, Labour’s candidate Kim Leadbeater posed for a photograph with local campaigners sporting T-shirts that depicted Israel as ‘Palestine’, issued both a leaflet and a letter touting her pro-Palestinian credentials (by heaping scorn on Israel, naturally), and defended a grim leaflet clearly geared towards tapping into anti-Hindu and anti-Indian prejudices.

A plea from a pollster: stop listening to the public

When Dominic Cummings released his WhatsApp messages with Boris Johnson earlier this month, perhaps the most alarming was the one where both men fretted about ‘trends in polls and lots of focus groups over the past 2 weeks’. The texts, dated 27 April 2020, also saw the Prime Minister asking about ‘tonight[‘s] focus group and polls’. At the heart of government, at the height of the pandemic, public health decisions and the Prime Minister’s thought process were clearly being steered heavily by a perceived negative public reaction. I am a pollster. There are many advantages in knowing what the public think. It ensures politicians do not let otherwise hidden resentments

Keir Starmer’s days are numbered

I think Keir’s had it. This may not discomfort you terribly, I know. Still less the fact that Labour will rummage around in its idiot box and find someone even more un-electable to lead the party. Cheeky Nandos perhaps, or Angela No-Brayner. Someone mental for whom patriotism is an anathema and who finds it difficult to rise up for a moment off their knee, all the while banging together saucepans for the NHS, Cuba and transgender rights. Starmer’s days are numbered because of what just happened in Chesham and Amersham and what is about to happen in Batley and Spen. Sacking his closest ally and election edgelord supremo, Baroness Chapman

Labour’s killer queen is the perfect replacement for Starmer

As Keir Starmer’s re-run of the great Change UK centrist dad experiment sinks deeper into political quicksand, the importance of a party leader being able to project a compelling personality becomes ever more obvious. Even the pinko pundit class that was overjoyed by his election as Labour leader is now close to giving up on Starmer, whose lack of ringcraft reminds us that there is something to be said for career politicians after all. Ambitious shadow ministers with antennae more finely tuned in to the public mood than his are said already to be preparing prospective leadership campaign teams in anticipation of the voters of Batley and Spen delivering a

Could the Tories lose the South?

The coming Batley and Spen by-election — triggered by the incumbent MP’s election as the first mayor of West Yorkshire — is currently attracting a lot of attention. It is a northern constituency that Labour won at the last election with less than 50 per cent of the vote and that voted to Leave, which has led people to wonder if the Tories can repeat their by-election success there. (It is, though, worth noting that the 2019 Labour share of the vote in Batley and Spen was 43 per cent compared to 38 per cent in Hartlepool).  But there is a group of Tory MPs who’ll be watching the Chesham and Amersham by-election even more