Batley & Spen

2015 Result:
Conservative: 15769 (31.2%)
Labour: 21826 (43.2%)
Lib Dem: 2396 (4.7%)
Green: 1232 (2.4%)
UKIP: 9080 (18%)
TUSC: 123 (0.2%)
Others: 53 (0.1%)
MAJORITY: 6057 (12%)

Category: Safe Labour seat

Geography: Yorkshire and the Humber, West Yorkshire. Part of the Kirklees council area.

Main population centres: Batley, Heckmondwike, Cleckheaton, Liversedge, Birkenshaw, Gomersal.

Profile: The Batley part of the seat consists of the working class town of Batley, a former mill town that has a large Asian population from the demand for cheap Labour in the last century. The Spen in the seat title refers not to a particular settlement, but to the collection of former textile towns and villages of the Spen Valley, which tend to be smaller, whiter and almost semi-rural.

Politics: Batley tends to vote Labour, while the other towns and villages are more Conservative, making this a marginal seat between the Conservatives and Labour. This is the sort of ethnically mixed seat where the Conservatives have struggled in recent years, having fallen further and further behind since first losing the seat in 1997.

Current MP
JO COX (Labour) First elected as MP for Batley & Spen in 2015.
Past Results
Con: 17159 (34%)
Lab: 21565 (42%)
LDem: 8095 (16%)
BNP: 3685 (7%)
Oth: 605 (1%)
MAJ: 4406 (9%)
Con: 12186 (31%)
Lab: 17974 (46%)
LDem: 5731 (15%)
BNP: 2668 (7%)
Oth: 649 (2%)
MAJ: 5788 (15%)
Con: 14160 (37%)
Lab: 19224 (50%)
LDem: 3989 (10%)
GRN: 595 (2%)
Oth: 574 (1%)
MAJ: 5064 (13%)
Con: 17072 (36%)
Lab: 23213 (49%)
LDem: 4133 (9%)
Oth: 856 (2%)
MAJ: 6141 (13%)

*There were boundary changes after 2005

2015 Candidates
IMTIAZ AMEEN (Conservative)
JO COX (Labour)
JOHN LAWSON (Liberal Democrat)
ALEKSANDAR LUKIC (UKIP) Educated at Heckmondwike Grammar School. Teacher.
KARL VARLEY (Patriotic Socialist)
Comments - 727 Responses on “Batley & Spen”
  1. All very interesting, especially Dan Hodges’ report in the Mail a few weeks ago. When was the Newsnight report? I can’t see it on YouTube. Just clips of Galloway being interviewed by Lewis Goodall.

  2. I do wonder if Labour really understands the Muslim vote. It’s weird how they are pandering with such laser-like focus to interests that would be esoteric to anyone outside the Pakistani diaspora.

    And even those voters – surely they care about bread-and-butter issues too? Couldn’t they be persuaded just as much by a message of investment, rebuilding and social justice as Bailey’s white voters? In the very seat of Mrs “More In Common” herself, it’s astonishing to me that Labour are treating Muslims like a completely different species.

  3. I think the people who are voting Galloway probably would sit this by election out

  4. If Galloway hadn’t stood i mean

  5. Matt, what do you make of the report (in the Daily Telegraph, so no point my linking it, as it will be behind a paywall) that Dawn Butler will challenge Keir Starmer if Labour loses in Batley and Spen? Surely, to have any credibility, your side of the party would have to go for someone like Jon Trickett or Dan Carden. Butler would be ripped to pieces by the Conservatives and the press.

  6. Perhaps she’ll be a stalking horse challenger (I haven’t read the article). I think having two by-elections in marginal northern seats, at a time when the demographics in such seats is favouring the Tories, is simply very bad luck. Trickett was actually Gordon Brown’s PPS as PM. Carden could be torn apart in the press, not as much as Butler, but he and his mates were barred from a Liverpool pub.

    I agree with PT – the campaign literature aimed at Muslim voters in Batley comes across as pandering to such voters. Of course, there are white Muslims, but not so much in this constituency. It sounds like some Muslim campaigners there aren’t so keen on having a lesbian candidate and a leader with a Jewish wife. Labour has gone up an identity politics cul-de-sac in this regard. I do think the Galloway campaign is shameless though. His various stances are somewhat contradictory – he’s playing to the gallery. Getting a new leader from the Labour left won’t help the party. Interesting article here:

  7. I understand Dawn Butler has actually denied such a story. I’m not convinced there’ll be a challenge. The only possible way I can see a challenge is either the centre left and left forcing a challenge in which case Dawn Butler seems a fairly logical choice. Originally from the centre left of the party, backed Andy Burnham for leader and served under the last Labour government. Jon Trickett though does also fit all of those descriptions and I agree would be a better fit

    The other alternative is the left and the right push for a challenge. Once a contest ensues more candidates enter the race.

  8. As this opinion piece says, the problem goes way beyond the leader. It’s structural and cultural.

  9. I was talking about the by-election with a couple of Muslim voters in this constituency who I know through work. One definitely voting for Galloway, the other wouldn’t say, but that was the impression. Both didn’t have a positive view of Tracy Brabin, who they felt had used the constituency as a stepping stone to better things and didn’t know that much about Kim Leadbeater beyond her murdered sibling.Their feeling was a lot of the Muslim community would be voting for Galloway, that’s probably enough to lose the seat for Labour.

    As already said it’s a real mixed bag politically, for example when I first moved to Kirklees the BNP had a councillor in Heckmondwike.

  10. Well, I suppose what unites them all is dissatisfaction with the mainstream parties. Seems there’s a lot of non-voters there too. Good article here about it

  11. From the Unherd report and from recent statements by Galloway he’s playing to different audiences these days with some contradictions.

    He’s long played to the Muslim vote, exploiting and creating divisions but since campaigning for Brexit, he’s been wading into the ‘culture wars’ opposing wokeness, is particularly critical of the left’s focus on trans issues and seems to have no problem standing shoulder to shoulder with e.g. Laurence Fox.

  12. Not all that strange. He has always courted the more socially conservative end of the Muslim vote. Liberal/integrated Muslims don’t vote for Galloway. Not too difficult for him to pivot from that sort of politics to the Spiked agenda.

  13. Thing is, the Islamic idea of social conservatism is somewhat different to the white working class idea of it. The latter are better described as “culturally conservative”, IMO – a much more apt term used to describe Red Wall voters.

    And Galloway might appear at the Laurence Fox free speech rally, but I don’t think their views on the Batley teacher are the same – nor on other issues.

  14. Yeah as Trade Mark says, that was what I was referring to in my comment above. He tries to straddle the world views of white working class Red Wall communities and socially conservative Muslim communities. At the end of last year he was pretty much in agreement with well known Blue Labour commentator and trade unionist Paul Embery. Now he’s back to his usual religious baiting.

    The only silver lining of this that unlike Bradford West or Bethnal Green and Bow, he’s unlikely to be elected this time. Barely anyone outside Batley or Heckmondwike will go near him. The split in the vote will probably hand it to the relatively low profile Tory candidate.

  15. While Galloway won’t come remotely close to winning it will be interesting to compare his vote total to Batley and Spen’s ethnic make-up, it might be an indicator or whether or not he’d be theoretically capable of winning a majority-minority seat.

    IMO to repeat Bethnal Green/Bradford West Galloway needs the perfect storm of a heavily Muslim, poorly integrated seat, and favourable political weather in terms of Middle East geopolitics. This time round he only has the second of those two things.

  16. TM – there’ve been 3 Newsnight pieces in the seat, but I only caught two of them.

  17. Apparently 2 former Labour MPs are out helping Galloway.

    I imagine Chris Williamson + any other obsessed with Palestinian flags.

  18. Thelma Walker? Her NIP seems cut from that keffiyeh cloth.

    LO – the BBC usually uploads those Newsnight reports to their YouTube channel. But I haven’t noticed anything recent about this seat. I seldom watch Newsnight on TV.

    PT – interesting theory, though surely the recent ME unrest is favourable for Galloway? As I suspected, he won Bethnal Green on a minority vote share in 2005 (35.9%). His Bradford West victory was much more emphatic (55.9%). But so was his defeat there three years later.

  19. Labour hold!

    Lab 13296
    Con 12973
    Galloway 8264

  20. Seen online speculation that most of the Heavy Woollens went to Galloway. Seems logical to me, if they were just Tories, then why weren’t they already voting for the Tories in 2019?

  21. Guardian’s daily politics live feed also said Labour sources think the party may have picked up some votes in Tory leaning wards.

    Also the Conservative vote in B&S on current boundaries haven’t been able to break into 40% territory. Seems like they hit their ceiling in 2017. Proposed boundary changes which scraps the seat in its current form could take them across the line though.

  22. Galloway is to issue an Election Petition, as apparently:

    * the RO refused a recount request, despite the 1% margin.

    * Labour run Kirklees MBC issued a directive for council workers to remove his posters 3 days before polling day, due to the font size of his imprint!

    * the Labour candidate defamed him re the attack on her.

  23. Good result for Labour and rather unexpected. I was confident of a Labour hold early on but then it seemed less likely with Galloway’s candidacy. He did do very well to effectively come from nowhere and take a fifth of the vote. His figure was higher than the estimated Muslim population of the seat, so it’s probable he took non-Muslim votes (the far-left in B&S?).

    “Seems logical to me, if they were just Tories, then why weren’t they already voting for the Tories in 2019?”
    PT, surely one could ask the same question of Brexit Party voters in Hartlepool who probably helped the Tories win that by-election.

    Of course, Labour have been very lucky, with Galloway splitting the vote. Neil, I think Keir Starmer just said at his B&S appearance that Tories were voting for Kim. So that theory may well have some truth.

    Also, perhaps some Muslim voters don’t have a problem with a lesbian MP or a leader who has a Jewish wife, despite the campaigns suggesting otherwise. London is different I know, but Wes Streeting in Ilford North and Margaret Hodge in Barking don’t seem to have had problems in that regard.

  24. Another theory that came out of Newsnight yesterday was that enough Muslim women may quietly vote for Labour suggesting they were put off by the nastiness of the Galloway campaign. Not sure how much that can be proven unless by anonymised by election data on sex and religion show such a pattern.

  25. I was thinking that – in the privacy of the polling both, some Muslims may have stuck with Labour. The result essentially looks like if Galloway hadn’t stood, it would have been an easy win for Labour. The party better hope there aren’t more by-elections in their seats with a large Muslim population.

  26. I think some early reactions indicate Galloways vote wasn’t soley from Labour or the Muslim community. I certainly know we spoke to one or two Galloway voters in Cleckheaton. Labour did better outside Batley than previous particularly amongst younger voters. In Cleckheaton I’d say there was probably four types of voter I met:

    Always Labour
    Against because of local issues
    Undecided but previously voted Labour
    Labour was against

    The first group was the largest i met which I read as our core vote in places like Cleckheaton stuck with us. The second group was the next biggest. The third was a smaller group but I think the most important in holding the seat, this seemed to be mostly young people and they seemed to like Tracey Brabin. The last was the fewest, I don’t think there were huge number of switchers. Those that did had they not it might of been a different result given the tight margin but I didn’t meet many.

    I’m interested to hear the remark about Muslim women because I heard that in 2012 Muslim women voted for Galloway but told their husbands they voted Labour. Labour were reported to have asked for the man of the house on the doorstep

    With the obvious caveat of the incident at Batley grammar and the incidents during the campaign from what I hear they are fairly unrepresented of a community that is actually very well integrated. Far more integrated than many cities

  27. From memory, GG achieved 10% more than the Muslim vote in both Bradford and the East End.

    Many commentators keep wrongly referring to the Census % of muslims in a seat and not the % of the electorate or voters.

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