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
2010
Con: 17159 (34%)
Lab: 21565 (42%)
LDem: 8095 (16%)
BNP: 3685 (7%)
Oth: 605 (1%)
MAJ: 4406 (9%)
2005*
Con: 12186 (31%)
Lab: 17974 (46%)
LDem: 5731 (15%)
BNP: 2668 (7%)
Oth: 649 (2%)
MAJ: 5788 (15%)
2001
Con: 14160 (37%)
Lab: 19224 (50%)
LDem: 3989 (10%)
GRN: 595 (2%)
Oth: 574 (1%)
MAJ: 5064 (13%)
1997
Con: 17072 (36%)
Lab: 23213 (49%)
LDem: 4133 (9%)
Oth: 856 (2%)
MAJ: 6141 (13%)

*There were boundary changes after 2005

Demographics
2015 Candidates
IMTIAZ AMEEN (Conservative)
JO COX (Labour)
JOHN LAWSON (Liberal Democrat)
ALEKSANDAR LUKIC (UKIP) Educated at Heckmondwike Grammar School. Teacher.
IAN BULLOCK (Green)
KARL VARLEY (Patriotic Socialist)
DAWN WHEELHOUSE (TUSC)
Links
Comments - 678 Responses on “Batley & Spen”
  1. It’d hardly remain a freepost delivery though if you increased the deposit level.

  2. Why do people huff and puff like this over a few colourful byelection candidates? There are many far worse examples that could be found of wastes of public money.

    I fear the answer is that such people feel somehow affronted that ‘fringe’ candidates are able to take part.

    But if they are worried about politics lacking ‘seriousness’ then they should better direct their attention at the silliness, frivolousness and irrelevance we see in the main parties.

  3. I find myself in the strange position of agreeing with Runnymede- there is no real benefit to making it more difficult for people to put up a candidate, and the more prohibitive the rules are, the more likely you are to make the political process seem removed, elitist and unrepresentative. And why should we worry about a few fringe candidates being in the contest? Offensive candidates are usually humiliated, and joke ones add a little light relief (as well as a receptocal for the “none of the above” voters).

    The concern in this by election was that the absence of Tory, LD & Green candidates would leave a vacuum which could be exploited by extremists (and as I’ve already said, this election has actually shifted my position on this), but in most elections we should be absolutely comfortable in allowing anyone to stand (we may well disagree with everything a candidate stands for, but should defend their right to stand).

  4. Receptical!

  5. Sorry -Receptacle….I’m having trouble with my spelling today.

  6. Ecowirral – yes, but the question is how much of the cost should be borne by such candidates?

    Lancs – it’s free if they get 5% of the vote. I’d further make the point that a letter which more than 95% of the electorate have no in reading can reasonably be described as junk mail. Minority candidates should have the right to access that service at a reduced rate, but if that unpopular should largely be paying for the cost themselves.

  7. Not up front it isn’t free.

    Inds and new local Parties would be deterred, whereas Parties could afford it. Even if the LDs did lose hundreds of deposits.

  8. EXILED VOTER – Actually, I don’t think the question is about the level of expense it is reasonable to charge the candidate. It it was, then why pay deposits back at all-you could just make it a flat charge?

    I think the real is that you don’t want to have large numbers of pointless candidates who just clog up the ballot paper and make voter errors more likely (for example, they should be firmer on candidates for ‘parties’ with names which may well confuse). What is the optimum number of candidates? Well, I think we now have 5 near-national parties, and it is reasonable to expect that a small number of others can reasonable join in, but when it goes over 10 candidates, it starts getting silly. So rather than deposit increases, I would rather see an increase in the number of constituents required to nominate (and maybe link it to their vote; the nominee effectively votes when they nominate, and a vote is added to the candidates score). That way, you could make sure that everyone had, say, 50 votes to be able to stand?

  9. Obviously, all candidates would be limited to a specific, fixed number (ie 50) or you would get the horrible spectre of parties trawling to get voters to sign up to them en-masse before the election, thereby increasing the potential for pressure to be applied.

    I reckon it would reduce the number of vexatious candidates.

  10. Thomas Mair has been found guilty of the murder of Jo Cox.

  11. According to researchers there were there were 50,000 tweets celebrating Jo Cox’s death.

    https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2016/nov/26/jo-coxs-was-followed-by-50000-tweets-celebrating-her-death

  12. Totally unsurprising, and kind of puts the level of trolling on here into perspective.

  13. I would also for the record like to use this opportunity to point out how low some of our media have sunk. The Mail ran a story claiming Mair did what he did because he believed an immigrant would take his council house…and I wonder where he might have got that impression from?

    The Sun then piles in that apparently he was a huge racist because his mother had an affair with a black man, so of course once again its minorities fault.

    How can anyone treat these papers as anything less than turds propagating pure hate is beyond me.

  14. Ugh sadly I’ve seen a few posts trivializing her death

  15. Rivers,
    Agree 100%
    Jo Cox actually embodied many of the qualities that sometimes (when people show them) make me proud to be British.
    The fact that a lot more people than I thought from various walks of life do not share this view has been one of the more shocking things about 2016 for me…

  16. It’s not about Jo per se. Jo has been posthumously canonised because of what her killing represented: an attack on democracy, on the very foundations on which our nation has been built. A lethal attack on any other MP would, I’m sure, have produced the same outpouring of grief and display of solidarity.

    Where I disagree with many on the debate is the insinuation that the incident was brought about by the poisonous rhetoric from leave campaigners. Thomas Mair was not your average Daily Mail reader, because, divisive though some of the paper’s editorial content may be, most Daily Mail readers are actually lovely people (and are generally far humbler than those who prefer the Guardian!) Thomas Mair, on the other hand, was a genuine neo-Nazi. A man who collected Nazi books and memorabilia, and who had done so long before British Nationalism took root in mainstream politics. Thomas Mair would still have been Thomas Mair, even if we lived in some inclusive, multicultural utopia.

  17. (Apologies for the asterisks – comment was auto-moderated the first time I posted it.)

    It’s not about Jo per se. Jo has been posthumously canonised because of what her killing represented: an attack on democracy, on the very foundations on which our nation has been built. A lethal attack on any other MP would, I’m sure, have produced the same outpouring of grief and display of solidarity.

    Where I disagree with many on the debate is the insinuation that the incident was brought about by the poisonous rhetoric from leave campaigners. Thomas Mair was not your average Daily Mail reader, because, divisive though some of the paper’s editorial content may be, most Daily Mail readers are actually lovely people (and are generally far humbler than those who prefer the Guardian!) Thomas Mair, on the other hand, was a genuine neo-N*zi. A man who collected N*zi books and memorabilia, and who had done so long before British Nationalism took root in mainstream politics. Thomas Mair would still have been Thomas Mair, even if we lived in some inclusive, multicultural utopia.

  18. ‘A lethal attack on any other MP would, I’m sure, have produced the same outpouring of grief and display of solidarity.’

    No it wouldn’t.

  19. POLLTROLL

    I agree re. Thomas Mair, a genuine neo-Nazi.

    However he never tried to kill any previous Batley and Spen MP’s, despite his long interest in ultraright politics. His attack was more on Jo Cox personally than on our democratic system. Her views were the absolute opposite of Nazism, and in the run-up to the referendum she made her views on refugees and other “liberal” (in the broad sense) issues very clear in the local press.

    Jo Cox was not an MP for very long and I did not know anything about her before her death. I agree there was a degree of canonisation of someone who had not had a chance to do much wrong in office, but a look at her CV shows someone who stuck very much to her principles and had genuine concern for the disadvantaged. People might disagree with some of her policies, but personally I do not doubt her motivation, as I do for some other MPs in all Parties.

    Like Runnymede I don’t think many other MP’s would have got the same display of grief

  20. PollTroll gets it.

  21. I agree that Mair was an unpredictable one-off

    However I think his target was Jo Cox in particular not the British democratic system. She was the antithesis to his views and many other MP’s less outspoken on refugees etc would not have been targeted

  22. While it may be true that Mair would have done what he had done regardless of what universe we lived in to me the issue is how some parts of the media have behaved in the wake of this murder. Its been pointed out multiple times that had an MP been killed by a Muslim the likes of the Mail would have splashed front page stories claiming a mad immigrant Jihadi had brutally butchered an MP, yet for months they had been downplaying the incident claiming Mair was a mentally unstable loner who doesn’t represent anything wider in society. This blatant double standard infuriated me for long enough but now they have gone so far as to actually inadvertently blame immigrants and Jo Cox herself for the murder? This goes beyond bias its pure hate.

  23. I’m not sure Mair does represent much in wider society. The number of people sympathising with a far right murderer are miniscule, far far less than the number of Muslims who sympathise with jihadi acts. The numbers show this as much as anything else – very few far right murders compared to deaths from islamic terrorism. I do think the efforts to lionise Jo Cox have ended up looking cheap and tacky. Time to let her rest in peace now.

  24. I’m sorry to be the one to tell you HH but it turned out not to be true that 1 in 5 Muslims supported Jihadists.

  25. HH
    More people are killed in high profile acts of terrorism perpetrated by Muslims than radical white supremacists true but you only have to look at the large number of hate crimes (many resulting in death) perpetrated by far right extremists most of which get little to no attention in the media. Fortunately most of these attacks don’t result in deaths but the number of racially motivated assaults is frankly staggering most of which go unpunished.

    In fact I may be wrong here but in Britain this year at least I think far more people have been killed by racist bigots than Muslim extremists. Correct me if I’m wrong cos I’m only working off memory.

  26. ‘The number of people sympathising with a far right murderer are miniscule,’

    Prior to Brexit – onvce dismissed as a far right fantasy – I would have agreed with you

    You can go back even further

    Remember in 2014 when UKIP’s poll ratings went up after one of their candidates said he wished all Black Africans would die of AIDs

    Of course those who hold views similar to Mair are firmly in a minority, but a very vocal minority all the same – who seem ti be getting more powerful by the day after what by any meaningful and fair analysis has been a cracking year for the Far Right

    One thing liberals have to get their thick hjeads round and round fast – is you can’t treat such people liberally – regrettably violence is the only language extremists of all creed and colour understand

    Such people most certainly exist – so perhaps the interesting question is whether or not such people are egged on by those who ought to know better – the media and politicians

  27. One thing liberals need to get their thick head round….

  28. On RICHMOND PARK thread…
    CONSERVATIVE ESTIMATE
    “… I’ve paid my debts…”

    Yes, he has.

    Gofundme: 28/11/16
    £20
    Ma*im P**r-R*id
    6 hours ago

    (My asterisks)

    Thanks for doing that CONSERVATE ESTIMATE.

    Anyone wondering what thus is about needs to go to WITNEY pg 36, 29/9/16 – and HEYWOOD &M.

  29. “…regrettably violence is the only language extremists of all creed and colour understand…”

    What exactly are you proposing, Tim? There’s more than a whiff of the hang ’em and flog ’em Tory of the past, or the Bush administration’s response to 9-11, in those words.

  30. I have visions of gangs of hand-wringing CofE vicars throwing their prayer books through the windows of anyone sporting UKIP or Brexit-related posters, singing ‘kumbaya’…

  31. ‘What exactly are you proposing, Tim?’

    Just pointing out that it takes more than a few critical articles or news reports on TV to stop these people

    Many liberals have for too long argued that it’s all about education and that people who engage in the type of political violence characterised by the butchering of Lee Rigby or the assassination of Jo Cox are mad rather than just plain bad

    Even when those individuals are taken off the street on a permanent basis – as with Mair and one of Rigby’s killers – the government might want to take a sterner look at dealing with those who inspired them and come to the conclusion that they are people whose removal from society would be beneficial to everyone except themselves

  32. ”I’m sorry to be the one to tell you HH but it turned out not to be true that 1 in 5 Muslims supported Jihadists.”

    Well it’s obviously going to be less than 1 in 5 but Hemming is correct that proportionally a lot more Muslims support Jihadists than white British people support the murder of minorities who aren’t like them. The problem with modern Islam is that a whole raft of extreme bigoted ideas are believed by a large chunk of adherents to the religion. When you already have people believing that homosexuals should be put to death, adulterous women stoned, people who insult the profit thrown in prison and death for people who leave the religion it is not too far a step from that from the openly backing Jihadist movements to even committing acts of terrorism themselves. The western left is broadly (with a few honourable exceptions)not interested in challenging the illiberal ideas which are at the root of the problem because they have decided that Muslims are a ‘victimised minority’ so in the left’s eyes are given a raft of free passes to be hateful/bigoted which they would give to nobody else. So guess what when extremely illiberal ideas are allowed to fester you get illiberal outcomes. I don’t know why anyone is surprised.

  33. “people who insult the profit . . .”

    LOL. Anti-capitalist demonstrators, presumably . . .

  34. It was a bit of an odd choice for the MPs to choose Trump’s campaign track as the Jo Cox charity release.

    Incidentally Hofer is now 1/3 to win Austria with the Ind Green now out to 2/1.

  35. Cllr Amanda Stubley has defected (Labour > Ind) here.

    She represents Batley East ward.

    http://www.examiner.co.uk/news/west-yorkshire-news/kirkless-councillor-amanda-stubley-quits-12452941

    She’s certainly a ‘local character’ who has variously said that she’ll stand against Brabin at the next General Election, is ‘open to offers’ from other Parties and she’s called Labour HQ 30 times to complain. I can vouch for that as she’s also left a former colleague of mine several voicemail messages!

  36. From Politicshome on today’s debate:

    Batley and Spen MP Tracy Brabin has given an emotional speech as she recalls speaking to local members who campaigned with Jo Cox, who of course was murdered a week before the referendum:

    “Many had spent months knocking on doors and delivering leaflets alongside my predecessor Jo Cox, advocating that people should vote Remain whilst others in the room voted another way…”

    At this point, Mary Creagh intervened to give her Labour colleague a break for a few seconds. Brabin continued:

    “…I, too, voted to remain and as I spoke and listened to my friends and colleagues it was difficult and occasionally emotional as I explained why I felt it was my duty to respect democracy and vote in favour of triggering Article 50. Batley and Spen voted 63% to leave. The people have spoken and I must listen.

    “So however painful this is now, we are leaving the European Union. It is my duty to listen to everyone: move on from Leavers, Remainers, and get the best deal for everyone.”

  37. *I hope the following post doesn’t cause anyone upset or offence. If it does, I apologise in advance.

    I believe if Cox wasn’t murdered and she was the candidate here at the forthcoming General Election, I think there would have been a strong possibility that Labour would have lost this seat. Not through any fault of Cox but the unpopularity of Corbyn in seats of this nature.

  38. Are you suggesting that “it’s what Jo would have wanted” will carry Tracy Brabin home here? Because historical precedent suggests otherwise – last time an MP was murdered, the Tories lost Eastbourne to the Lib Dems in the resulting by-election. (In hindsight, the decision to contest that and other by-elections caused by IRA attacks seems pretty distasteful.)

    I suspect Brabin will be just about okay, but I would imagine the people of B&S want very much to move on from the tragic events of June last year.

  39. I had similar thoughts to Christian re this seat. I think it would be a very likely Con gain if the events last summer hadn’t happened, but Brabin has only just been elected and I imagine there is still a sense among Tories that it would be improper to campaign too hard here… so I’d rate it 50/50 or so at the moment

  40. There is a great passage from Dominic Cummings’ blog about this:

    “The reaction to the dreadful murder was an example of how the media and SW1 can live effectively in a parallel universe. Somehow they convinced themselves that this event might undo over a decade of growing hostility for those in power. They therefore tried to push the theme that actually MPs are great, ‘they are in it for good reasons’ and so on. The media led themselves into a dead end and No10, defaulting to their instincts of steering by pundit, followed. As soon as I saw Osborne and Matt Hancock wasting their time tweeting broken multicoloured hearts and encouraging #weloveourMP, I knew they had screwed their own OODA loop. We knew from focus groups (conducted by the brilliant Henry de Zoete who also played a crucial role in coordinating the digital and data science teams) that opinion outside London was extremely different to that of MPs and those in charge of most news. We went straight back to what we knew were the winning messages leaving Hancock and co to tweet broken hearts.”

  41. Polltroll – Yes, I’m suggesting Brabin will hold onto this seat mainly due to the unfortunate murder of Cox last June. She’ll recieve a sympthy vote at the forthcoming General Election but could be very vulnerable to the Tories at the 2021/2022 General Election if Labour elect another ultra-left leader after Corbyn. You have to remember, these type of ex-mining, non-metropolitan seats are very conservative (with a small ‘c’) and a siginicant number of people voted LEAVE the EU in this seat. Batley and Spen was slowly trending towards the Tories before Cox’s murder so these factors make this a seat to watch for a Tory gain in future years.

  42. This seat seems to be trending away from conservatives

  43. I think extrapolating the lack of effect of the Cox murder on the referendum campaign onto the seat she represented would be a mistake.
    However I think the main effect may be a reluctance by the Tories to campaign very much, especially when they have much more winnable Dewsbury next door (and Morley and Outwood, which may need defending when it is not Ed Balls standing)

  44. “Gordon Bennett!

    You’re worse than H.H. who thought Cox’s death would swing it for Remain.”

    When you’ve finished masturbating over Theresa May’s forthcoming 400 seat majority you might remember that you also predicted Remain were going to win, indeed IIRC there were multiple predictions every day with boring clichés about the result being like Quebec.

  45. “You have to remember, these type of ex-mining, non-metropolitan seats are very conservative (with a small ‘c’)”

    Eh? What did they used to mine in Batley and Spen?

  46. There was coal mining in Batley but a long time ago….the last mine was closed approximately around mid 1930s.

    This appears safish Labour although ANY Labour seat with a majority of less than 15%over CON must be regarded as in danger of being lost.

    Main reasons…national polls lead for Con and that many more switchers Lab- LD then Con – LD

  47. “There was coal mining in Batley but a long time ago….the last mine was closed approximately around mid 1930s.”

    It must have been tiny. Coal reserves in this part of Yorkshire are minimal. This is predominantly made up of former mill towns which are quite different to mining areas and historically far more amenable to voting Conservative, as indeed has this seat and its predecessors quite often in the past.

    The ethnic vote here is pretty big, which may make the Labour vote stickier, nevertheless the Tories can easily get into the 40s and win if they cut deep into UKIP’s 18% from last time.

  48. You can never be sure of what is going to happen, as proved in the last GE the polls were wrong.

    Whilst I can be pretty sure that Teresa May is going to be in No10 after June 8. Whether it be a 50 or 150 seat majority is another call altogether. A lot can change between now and when we go to the polls. Different patterns are going to happen in different areas of the country.

  49. Yep…two things to look out for in nxt few hours / days:

    The council by election in Harrow tonight and more pointedly the Unite leadership election. Both these will be indicators of the unpopularity – or otherwise – of Labour / the Left / Corbyn.

  50. The by-election was of little relevance even by the usual standards of by-elections. Low turnout, only one seat-taking party. Nonetheless, the number of people who voted for a candidate or party which either is, or has been branded as being, far right, suggests to me that the element of the 2015 UKIP vote which would not consider switching to Labour or Conservative is higher than the national average. The historical BNP strength here would also seem to back this up. This would therefore suggest a lower than average swing to the Conservatives here, even if Cox is not a factor.

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