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 - 610 Responses on “Batley & Spen”
  1. Ian Tomlinson wasn’t shot

  2. Not only that, but the police officer responsible for Tomlinson’s death was prosecuted and later sacked.

    But I’m unsure from the strange series of posts above whether we are supposed to think that these two things – the killing of Tomlinson and the subsequent prosecution – were good or bad things.

  3. I hate to be the one to point this out but this is a forum for elections, polls and psephology not a vehicle for old windbag gassing about unrelated matters.

    I mean for instance a MORI poll today gave LABOUR a 26% lead over the Tories (amongst 18-24 year olds).

  4. “But I’m unsure from the strange series of posts above whether we are supposed to think that these two things – the killing of Tomlinson and the subsequent prosecution – were good or bad things.”

    Yes, I’m confused by that as well. Tim seems to be moaning about the police killing people yet also complaining when they didn’t do so.

    “I mean for instance a MORI poll today gave LABOUR a 26% lead over the Tories (amongst 18-24 year olds).”

    And 18% behind the Tories overall. The temptation for May to hold a Spring 2017 election could well become irresistible. Given that governments almost always “swing back” in an election campaign a 2017 election could be total carnage for Labour if the MORI poll is indicative of the true state of things. Labour could get a seat total even below the Tories in 1997.

  5. Deepthroat – it’s hardly unrelated.

    You’re the one who keeps stating that even the very democratic process of the By-election itself is controversial.

    It is not – it is entirely normal. The controversial element is the Tories, LDs, UKIP not contesting it.

  6. 18-24 year olds have always been anti-Tory. In the October 1974 election the Conservatives came third behind the Liberals in the youngest age category. Those are pretty much the same people who are now giving the Tories huge leads.

  7. Andy,

    Nothing new there. Young people grow up and grow wiser.

  8. Anti Corbyn has apparently been loudhailering.

    There’s quite a bit of info about him on the Vote2007(2012) site.

    His ‘Just Hang ‘Em’ and variations of the same weren’t allowed as a description.

  9. “Given that governments almost always “swing back” in an election campaign a 2017 election could be total carnage for Labour if the MORI poll is indicative of the true state of things. Labour could get a seat total even below the Tories in 1997.”

    Have asked before…but does anyone think that there will be a labour majority government in the next 15 years?

  10. I am not convinced there will ever be one again – nor a Tory majority government after their next defeat. I think the next government will be another coalition and one of the things it will do is change the voting system to PR (without a referendum, probably as most of the opposition parties will have electoral reform in their manifestos), resulting in permanent coalition government.

  11. The potential disappearance of the LDs (well down to say 4 MPs) in 2020 means I doubt PR will ever be on the agenda again.

  12. 7 of the Candidates here today produced leaflets (to answer my own Question from the other day).

    The New Statesman piece on the By-election and twitter have photos of these.

    But only 3 apparently had seat-wide Freepost election addresses.

  13. As in 79-97 I expect Labour will become more favourable the more elections they lose. But again I think actually implementing PR is a very different matter, given that it becomes much less appealing once FPTP is working for you again ( even only well enough for a coalition). A Lab/LD coalition *might* deliver PR, but that doesn’t seem likely any time soon and even if did then I think a referendum would be hard to avoid.

  14. 25.8% turnout…

  15. 25.8% turnout in Batley & Spen would be about 20,000 votes.

  16. Brabin gets 85.8% of the vote. Eng Dems second with 4.8%, just short of the deposit.

  17. Ah that must have been the reason for checking the bundles (50 votes away from saving their Deposit).

    Lab 85%
    EDs 5%
    BNP 3%
    Ind 1%
    Ind 1%
    Liberty 1%
    Ind 1%
    Ind 1%
    Others 1%

    Rejected: 171 ballots.

  18. Apologies to Kitchin (the top Ind) – he polled 3%

  19. What a farcical result. A 26% turnout.

  20. The Labour vote fell from 21K to 17K.

    The 17K who voted can’t all be Labour voters…I imagine that some Conservatives…perhaps 3000 to 4000…will have voted Labour out of respect in such a sad by election.

  21. Who knows, and frankly, who cares? This result is a parody of a democratic process, reminiscent of a North Korea or old times Eastern Bloc ‘election’.

    The Tories and Lib Dems should be ashamed at engineering this.

  22. “The Tories and Lib Dems should be ashamed at engineering this”.

    In fairness I can see why they quickly decided on that course of action in the midst of the emotional reaction to the event that caused the by-election. It would have been better had they said “now isn’t the time to be thinking about future elections; we’ll decide what to do after the funeral”.

    It is one of those events (the death of Diana was the first) that makes me question whether, as time passes and there are fewer among us who lived through a world war, as a population we are losing the capacity to respond in a level headed and proportionate manner to incidents of the tragic loss of life.

    The Eastbourne and Enfield Southgate by-elections both took place back when a significant number of people involved in front line politics would have lived through WW2. I wonder if that led the idea that meaninful democracy has to continue following a tragedy to prevail back then in a way that it clearly didn’t in this case.

  23. I think people are getting far too emotional about this. To compare this to North Korea is ridiculous. There are many councillors in Britain who are elected unopposed.

  24. ‘ in the midst of the emotional reaction to the event that caused the by-election’

    What ’emotional reaction’? There was nothing remotely like the Diana response.

    There was a media hoo-ha which the parties themselves fuelled in an attempt to influence the referendum result, that’s all.

    If you asked the public ‘who was Jo Cox’ I bet an embarrassingly low proportion would know. In another couple of months it will be fewer still. In no way is this comparable with the Diana episode.

    As for the parties’ changing attitudes – there is no change. The opposition parties in B&S stepped aside for partisan reasons (the referendum) they refused to in Eastbourne for partisan reasons eg they thought they could win (correctly). The difference is that decision 2 at least allowed the voters a proper choice.

  25. And what a silly post comparing this to unopposed councillor elections.

    Those almost always happen because the opposition parties know they have no chance of winning. Batley and Spen is a marginal.

  26. “What ’emotional reaction’? There was nothing remotely like the Diana response.”

    Kieran can’t be old enough to have been an adult when Diana died (based on what he intimated his age to be….apols if I’m wrong). It’s therefore forgiveable that he fails to appreciate what a ridiculous comparison he just made there. Walking through London that morning in 1997 you could have heard a pin drop. I’d never seen that before and never have since. Jo Cox was manufactured media-led mourning, not the genuine public-driven phenomenon that drove those extraordinary few weeks in late summer 97.

  27. But you’re argument would suggest the opposition should contest it no matter what

  28. Well probably yes. It’s not as if there aren’t loads of paper candidates already.

    We get one regularly here in my ward – the last one had only been a party member (for the Lib Dems) for a few weeks, lived twenty miles away and did no campaigning.

  29. RUNNYMEDE raises an interesting point & probably is right with his last paragraph in his 9.36am post.

    I think if a similar murder occurred to the Irish Republican ones I think by elections would go uncontested as well – something with which I would support.


    It wasn’t like that up North when Diana died I can tell you. At least not in Huddersfield.

  31. HAWTHORN – I have to agree with H.HEMMELIG. I was was even further ‘up north’ than you were that morning (admittedly, only a bit further in Leeds, but it was a very un-cosmopolitan area of Leeds!). I can fully identify the “not hearing a pin drop”; I went for a lunchtime pint & game of pool (those were the days…) on North Street, and had to apologise to a pumped-up young man who took offence that I’d said something slightly disrespectful within earshot (I was still only 24 in thise days, and staunchly anti-royal, so I’m sure you’ll forgive me). Anyway, this chap was well up for a scrap, even though it was only about noon and he can’t have had more than 3 pints and a packet of pork scratchings. Passions running high…..

  32. My other very strong memory of that morning (about an hour earlier) was stepping out into a very pleasant morning and immediately seeing two people holding copies of the same tabloid, which had a black cover with the enormous words “DIANA DEAD”. I’d already heard the news on radio 4 (another clear memory) but I remember thinking “bloody hell, this is big news”. That feeling has only ever happened again for me on Sept 11th 2001.

  33. Although the 2015 GE was close.

  34. At 21 I was a couple of years younger than you Ecowirral, just about to start my final year of university. The night before, my friend and I went to a very weird party at the London Dungeon where we had to go dressed as women. It’s the only time in my life I’ve ever been in drag. I didn’t want to go home on the night bus through south London very badly dressed as a woman so we got a taxi home. The news about Diana came over the radio in the taxi but I was very drunk and it just kind of added to the surreality of the experience. In the morning I woke with a hangover and realised what I’d kind of heard in the taxi was correct. I actually think it was a much weirder day than 9/11. London always has a background hum 24/7, even in the middle of the night. That was the only day I’ve ever experienced when that hum vanished.

  35. I was abroad at the time, working, and was very happy to be so. I found it hard to believe the hysteria I was seeing on the TV was actually happening in my own country. God knows how I would have felt had I actually been in the UK.

  36. The day after the 2015 GE was the first time I had the “this doesn’t feel normal” feeling. I suspect it might have been localised to Sheffield, given that the three relevant parties there all had terrible nights in different ways.

    It may also have been something to do with the fact I’d walked 40 miles in a day, stayed up watching a crushing defeat, then got half an hour sleep before having to catch a train to Derby.

  37. “I suspect it might have been localised to Sheffield, given that the three relevant parties there all had terrible nights in different ways.”

    I only count two relevant parties in Sheffield (Lab / LD).

    Arguably the Tories were still third most relevant party in 2015 because their tactical votes held Hallam for Clegg. Greens and UKIP didn’t impact any Sheffield results in 2015.

  38. Relevant (or assumed to be relevant) in the context of the 2015 GE, when the Greens were banging on about gaining Central. There were 6,999 quite disappointed Greens there that morning!

  39. Hemmelig, you were right in a sense in your earlier post, I was in my mid teens when Diana died; so not an adult but old enough to know what was going on.

    My recollection of what it was like away from the news media chimes more with the continued normality alluded to in Hawthorn’s post. As a family we decided the day after to drive over and have a mooch around the centre of Sheffield, as there was bugger all on the telly what with normal programming seemingly having been suspended. It felt to me like just any other morning in Sheff.

    Obviously the reaction to the Jo Cox murder was nowhere near the scale of the Diana phenomenon. However I would argue there are similarities. Both are examples of the idea normal life must essentially stop for a given period for it to be deemed that the dead are being accorded adequate respect. In both cases there was a sense of some people wearing their grief as a badge of virtue; that close identification with the deceased made you a better person. In the Jo Cox example there was the widespread implication by many who shared her politics that her killer was “the kind of people we are fighting against”, thereby tainting all opponents by association.

    I was greatly relieved when it became clear that UK electorate wouldnt buy that association. Many on here at the time suspected that it would, and that as a consequence the campaign to leave the EU was stuffed. It would have been terrible had such a momentous decision been decided by the actions of a single individual with a history of mental illness.

  40. ‘Many on here at the time suspected that it would’

    You mean ‘hoped’, I think

  41. The by election here was a farce. It was not really an appropriate way to honour the murdered MP either. A very sad conclusion.

    The main parties should always be prepared to offer candidates to the electorate when selecting a new MP.

    The other conclusion here is that the election deposit needs to rise substantially. The vote share required to keep a deposit was reduced from 12.5% to 5% and the amount increased to £500 in the 1980s. I don’t think the amount has been changed since. There really is no democratic reason to let candidates who will poll a bus full of votes have access to free mailing and publicity.

  42. What would you suggest, increasing both, or just one of them?

    Most by elections these days are pointless to contest because the incumbent party absolutely murders the postal vote element of the campaign as they control the date of the election.

    The Wythenshawe & Sale by election a couple of years ago saw ballots issued knlynwithon a couple of days of the close of nominations.

    Something needs to be done about the availability of postal voting, shouldn’t be available to everyone on demand.

    I think £1000 and 10% would be reasonable, when I spoke to some Conservatives in the referendum campaign they were shocked that I had to put up my own £500, on the ‘what if you lost it?’ thinking.

    My choice to stand….

  43. Damned auto correct

  44. KIERAN W- ‘”thereby tainting all opponents by association” – sorry, but that is rubbish. As a green, I didn’t feel in any way tainted by the murderer. If you have been a UKIPPER, then maybe you’d have a point, but there were absolutely no inferences levelled against the tories over it.

    Perhaps you feel like that because of a subconscious recognition of what sort of party you support?

    Also- what has the perpetrators (questionnable) history of memtal illness have to do with it? From what I can see, this was a far-right inspired attack, and memtal illness wasn’t a factor. Many people have a ‘history of mental illness’, but too often it isdeemed relevant only when someone has committed a violent act.

  45. “…but there were absolutely no inferences levelled against the tories over it”.

    There definitely were inferences levelled against those Tories who supported Leave, as there were against the whole of the Leave campaign. That was the reason behind the common assumption that the assassination made a Leave victory much less likely. You only have scroll back through the comments from the time on this thread to see how widespread that assumption was.

  46. There were inferences against those who wanted to leave because of immigration, but I think the assumption was that it might inspire people in a spirit of “hope not hate”, and that absolutely wasn’t an anti-tory thing.

    I never thought the murder would have much effect at all; most people didn’t see the direct correlation, and those that did were probably viting REMAIN anyway. I suppose it may have had a minute effect on a few people who may have been inspired to actually turn out in honour of her, but as this by election (obviously in the area where one would expect the greatest effect) those voting Labour “for Jo” didn’t really put their voters up much.

  47. I love the fact that H.HEMMELIG was in drag for Diana’s death- I can’t think of any more apt way to be dressed! It also reminds me that we make a mental picture of people we haven’t met and don’t know what they look like, which is usually wrong. I have an image of man of average height, dark sensible hair & neatly trimmed beard, with round features and a modest paunch, squeezed into a tutu, uncomfortable shoes and extremely bold make-up. Regardless of what he posts in future, that is undoubtedly the picture I will have. Oh-and now everyone else will….oops!

  48. Glad to have entertained you Eco. Your mental picture is very erroneous though. I’m 6ft2 and hate beards. I was skinny as a beanpole aged 21, slightly less so aged 40 but hopefully still count as “slim” 🙂

    As I have long eyelashes my face looked OK as a woman but being tall and skinny made it look a bit silly

  49. That surprises me, I had Hemmelig down as bearded as well. No idea why.

    A friend of mine went to a birthday party last year dressed as Conchita Wurst, in a surprisingly well fitting dress for a 6’2″ baseball playing Geordie. A similarly proportioned friend went to the same party as Hillary Clinton, and made a decent fist of it.

    Turns out it’s relatively easy to get hold of men’s sized women’s clothes.

  50. “Something needs to be done about the availability of postal voting, shouldn’t be available to everyone on demand.

    I think £1000 and 10% would be reasonable,”

    Tired to the extent that when I first read though your post I understood it as quoted 🙂

    I think the 5% threshold is about right. If you are confident that you represent thousands of people in a local area then democracy is served by access to free mailing and publicity. Indeed it’s imporant that parties representing thousands of people are not discouraged from standing because of the humiliation involved in not securing the deposit – if they are so unrepresentative that they don’t meet 5% then they fully deserve it.

    The amount of money put down definitely needs to rise though.

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