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 - 727 Responses on “Batley & Spen”
  1. Didn’t know that about CB. Not a big demographic, mind you.

    Wonder if Labour will choose a Muslim PPC here – big mistake if they do, I think.

  2. It seems that Jo Cox’s sister, Kim Leadbeater, is interested in becoming the Labour PPC here.

  3. George Galloway is standing.

    Lol.

  4. Can we say ‘stupendous momentum’? Quite an opportunist, though I don’t think he’ll get anywhere.

  5. Not his first attempt at a by election in West Yorkshire…

  6. Wasn’t he standing in Scotland for a list seat just last week? This grifter knows not when to stop.

  7. He’s quite the shapeshifter, too. Having stood for Holyrood on a crypto-Tory pitch, including a video just before the election where he pledged to go into bat for Scotland’s “forgotten hunting communities”, he’ll now doubtless be back to wearing his old Respect hat, stoking up tensions in an attempt to appeal to Batley’s Muslim community.

  8. Galloway isn’t himself standing but a candidate for the Worker’s Party of Britain is. I’d guess that their PPC will be a local Muslim.

  9. Very early betting odds are approx
    CON 1/2
    LAB 7/4

  10. The Tory vote declined at the last GE in this seat. Even with the Brexit party vote going completely to the Tories, they’d still be short of the hypothetical votes they need to win. Maybe the Tories can take votes from the third party in B&S – the Heavy Woollen District Independents. BXP were fifth behind the LDs. Wonder if Labour can peel off votes from the LDs – it didn’t seem to happen in Hartlepool. I think the character of this seat is rather different though. The Leave vote was lower for one thing (60% rather than 70% in Hartlepool). I think the demographics point towards a Labour hold – if they choose the right candidate, that is.

  11. I don’t know whether this is me projecting my own worldview onto the good people of Batley and Spen, but I can’t help but think that the death of Jo Cox at the hands of a far-right nationalist may have had the effect of propping up the Labour vote here.

    Not an exactly analogous situation, but the 2019 Foyle result (which the SDLP took from Sinn Fein on an enormous swing to hold the biggest majority in NI) was attributed by many to the murder of high-profile journalist Lyra McKee by republican paramilitaries. Plausible that a greatly reduced version of the same effect has been in play here.

  12. Equally one of the Belfast results was won by a SF candidate who lost his father during the troubles and has been leading a campaign for an inquiry into his fathers death

    I was interested to see Ian Warren, who worked for both Labour under Ed Miliband and UKIP during the Heywood & Middleton by election as a data analyst, endorsing Jo Cox sisters candidature. I did ask whether that was a personal endorsement or whether he had his analytical hat on but I didn’t hear back. I also note a local councillor has endorsed her. It reminds me of when that AM in Wales commited suicide and his son stood for the seat. Though his son had more experience.

    I’m still convinced a local cllr would be a better choice but an AWS is being suggested which idk Labour now has 50% women, is this an attempt to maintain the same level of women in the PLP

  13. If Kim Leadbeater does stand, I would think there will be a bit of a sympathy vote. You would feel pretty uncomfortable not voting for her, I would have thought, especially in a by-election. It doesn’t always work from a party perspective, though. After Ian Gow was blown up by the IRA, the other parties did not stand down, and David Bellotti won for the Liberal Democrats. A factor here, though, was that Eastbourne has a considerable Greek Cypriot population, and the Conservative candidate was of Turkish Cypriot origin.

    I think in the by-election following Jo Cox’s death, there was some rather unpleasant Far Right activity. Didn’t Britain First stand? I remember driving up to London and hearing one of their spokesmen on LBC and found myself shouting at the radio. Sometimes there has been tactical voting to keep the Far Right out, as happened at Barking when Margaret Hodge got 70% of the vote. The Conservatives only just beat the BNP, as large numbers of their supporters voted tactically for Hodge.

  14. “The Conservatives only just beat the BNP, as large numbers of their supporters voted tactically for Hodge.”
    That’s an interesting thought, and not one I had considered before. It’s plausible.

    I’m not sure that the actions of a “lone wolf” murderer would have impacted too much on the electorate at large in B&S: the seat still voted Brexit just days after Cox’s death, despite it being against her wishes. It’s possible that in the immediate aftermath, the Labour vote could have been propped up by a “sympathy vote” at the by-election, although as the other main parties didn’t stand, it’s hard to say, because the candidates were fringe types IIRC, who the average voter would be unlikely to be attracted to.

    Plus, it’s now nearly five years on… the fifth anniversary might provide a renewed focus on Cox and her family, but ultimately, I think it’ll be the demographics which win it for Labour here. Having her sister as PPC might help, but B&S isn’t as good territory for the Tories as Hartlepool, from what I know.

  15. Just a quick correction. Hodge has never got 70% of the vote. Came closest in 2017 but the BNP didn’t stand. The tories were almost beaten by the BNP in 2010 but Hodge got 54%

  16. Good point Matt, although I see that Hodge did get 72.1 of the vote when she was first elected at the 1994 by-election (when Theresa May came third). She hasn’t got 70% at a general election, although it’s still clearly a very safe seat for her.

  17. Sorry i only scrolled to 97 i think should have checked prior to that but i knew she was leader of Islington Council in the early 90s

  18. Matt, I know now where I got the 70% figure from. It was from when Derek Beackon won a by-election for the BNP in Millwall Ward in Tower Hamlets in the 1990s. In the next London Borough elections, turnout was almost 70% in some wards as people turned out to vote to prevent the BNP winning more seats (the Millwall win was heavily reversed). I think I then associated that with Hodge’s win. Was it 2006 that the BNP got at least a dozen seats in Barking. I know Hodge made quite a thing of having seen them off.

  19. Thanks for that. That’s really interesting

    I’d recommend the 06 Council Election coverage by the BBC on YouTube. It’s often remembered that by 2010 Hodge had seen them off but watching the 06 coverage there appears to be a lot of anger toward Hodge from within the leadership of the Labour Party that she legitimised them

  20. Andrew Teale’s website is really good, I’ve donated to it.

    It’s interesting that Barking is not quite as safe as somewhere like Tottenham. However, all the council seats are Labour. The only remotely marginal ward is Eastbrook, where the Tories aren’t unrealistically far behind. The others look bulletproof for Labour.

    The Battle for Barking is a really good documentary on this subject. Shows that it’s a lot more nuanced than people might think. I don’t think voters there are fascist at all – but it was the only outlet for their concerns.

  21. It is very small minded imo to judge people by how they vote.

  22. I’ve heard that Labour top brass do not expect to win this. Another loss of a seat on the cards for the main opposition party in the same Parliament – a record. Will no doubt bring huge pressure on Starmer, as leader.

  23. There’s probably a degree of expectation management. I heard Jo Cox sister hasn’t been a member long enough to stand but the party will waive that. She would be better candidate than Paul Williams i think. There’s a lot more favourable factors here than there were in Hartlepool. The leave vote is lower. More diverse seat. No popular tory mayor nationalising airports. But there are some similarities. Many of the surrounding seats are now tory like Wakefield and Dewsbury. The council elections here weren’t all that good for Labour.

    It would be difficult to see Starmer survive but there’s no guarantee the next leader won’t be a clive lewis type and therefore he’ll stay no matter what.

  24. until the moderates are sure the members will swallow the pill that says it was wrong person right message they won’t strike. Ironically the pitch that convinced corbynites to vote Starmer

  25. I would be very surprised if this was a Tory gain. For the reasons Matt mentions. Of course, it’s possible, if the Heavy Woollen District Independents don’t stand. Their leader is ex-UKIP, so the Tories could take votes from them.

    I think removing Starmer would be the wrong move at this time though… his replacement could be someone from the Corbynite wing, which would probably be the nail in the coffin for Labour.

  26. I think its less about who takes over and more about avoiding the leadership becoming a revolving door like in Scotland. I think there are people on the left who would be good like Clive Lewis who had the best personal ratings of any of the original six leadership contenders and his background in the armed forces can only help. However, if we keep chopping and changing people won’t know who are leader is.

    I think Starmer had two elections in his bag but I think he’s perhaps lost that guarantee now. The biggest concern imo wasn’t losing Hartlepool but losing so many councillors. Most of whom will have been supportive of the leadership and hard workers. They are basically guaranteed activists and losing just one is like losing a part time member of staff in a small to medium size company and we lost 300 of them which would be like 5% of your staff leaving at the same time. Tge demoralising affect is such friends of mine who are starmer supporters appear to be grieving at the moment.

  27. Kim Leadbeater has been selected as Labour’s PPC. Seems a good choice to me.

  28. Polling Day: 1st July.

  29. Galloway confirms he will be the Worker’s Party of Britain candidate.

  30. This seat would become Batley and Hipperholme in the new boundary proposals, just published:
    https://www.bcereviews.org.uk/

  31. Labourlist have written an article on a poll commissioned by the Labour Muslim Network in the run up to Bately which shows Starmer doing pretty badly amongst Muslims in comparison to Labour. Starmer has a – 4% rating while Labour has a +30%. On best PM Starmer leds Boris by 2% amongst Muslims polled

  32. Historically, even +30 among Muslims must be a pretty bad figure for Labour.

    Labour have been distributing leaflets in the majority-Pakistani wards talking about Kashmir, which makes it sound like they’re keen to shore up that vote. And if you’re playing that much of a core-vote strategy, you’re probably losing…

  33. (Excluding the Iraq War of course, where I imagine Labour’s popularity among Muslims dipped much lower than +30!)

  34. I made a mistake it was +42 for Labour amongst Muslims polled

  35. Something I’m not really sure of – what’s the rest of this seat, the non-Muslim 80% – like? Is it more traditional red wall territory? For a Labour-held seat, it appears that quite a large proportion of the seats electorate lives in villages.

  36. Just a reminder that only 10% of voters here are Muslim. (70% are under 30)

    The Newsnight piece would have people thinking it was akin to Bradford for Galloway.

  37. That’s what I’ve wondered. Outside of Batley and Heckmondwike the vote is rather Conservative and Lib Dems have local strength in Cleckheaton. May be a long shot but is there a chance those voters will tactically vote for Kim Leadbeater, to prevent the chance of a Galloway victory?

  38. Survation poll here 9th to the 17th. Headline figures Conservative 47% Labour 42%

  39. Gulp. That’s not an insurmountable gap but it’s also not good. And after the egg on my face I got from trash-talking previous polling in Hartlepool I’m going to be taking this very seriously…

    I’m increasingly minded that Starmer should resign if he loses. Not immediately, but at least in private he should make clear that he will not contest the 2024 election and will allow a leadership contest to take place before then.

    I feel weird saying this because it’s a framing that suits both the Tories, and the part of the Labour Party that was never reconciled to Starmer’s leadership. But ultimately Labour has to be ruthless if it wants to win.

  40. Remarkably similar numbers to first Survation poll in Hartlepool

    I think a change of leader isn’t going to solve Labour’s problems and we don’t want to be a revolving door of leaders like Scottish Labour. It makes even less sense to me that Starmer would remain leader but wouldn’t take labour into the next election. The point of the leader of the Labour Party is to convince people that you’re the best person to be the PM at the next election. Even if you completely fail at doing that, that is much more preferable than telling everyone you aren’t the right person for the job but don’t let that put you off voting Labour because I’m not going to be our leader in the next election

  41. I agree about not changing the leader, plus also I worry the replacement could be much worse.

  42. I do find myself in despair at frankly the quality of people in the house of commons. I think this is partly because politics is more accessible than it used to be which is a good thing but I don’t think we prepare people at all for this. There’s been a lot of work getting people into the house but not a great deal of thinking about how to make their time a worthwhile experience.

    I think it’s brilliant you’ve got someone like Angela Rayner in the house but her most recent response to why she had a photo with Jeremy Corbyn and her spokesperson said she had been photobombed which quickly revealed to be untrue and she has faced a lot of derision. But then nobody has ever prepared her for this.

    A lot of people play on her short comings as a politician but with Starmer it’s clear that being director of public prosecutions does not prepare you for these difficulties really

  43. So I did some phone canvassing tonight organised by the unions. Really disappointed by turnout. About 25 people turned up. Only people i recognised was Joe Cox who organised the event. Nadia Jama who is a CLP rep on the NEC and Sheffield member. Nick Palmer who used to be an MP in Broxtowe. Just to clarify this was over zoom.

    I had a rubbish time. Didn’t speak to a single person. Dozens of phone lines busy or wouldn’t pick up. It takes 20 minutes to get on to this phone bank. You spend more time on hold. Ugh hope people had a better time than me

  44. Interesting, a couple of relatives of mine did quite a few sessions for the Scottish Conservatives earlier this year and spoke to plenty of people every time including a few pretty lengthy conversations.

  45. It’s this new phone banking software based on the Call for Corbyn app but you’re connected to voters rather phoning them up. Awful hold music you spend more time listening to than talking to people and because of GDPR you can’t know owt about them. It’s right difficult to have a conversation with someone you know nowt about. Had a bloke who only lived round corner and only found out after the fact.

  46. So visited Batley and Spen today. Technically it was Cleckheaton. Was just at the tesco where i first filled my car up after buying it. Best cafe round the corner too.

    Clearly the parties are throwing everything at this. Met Tracy Brabin and Jack Dromey. Also Michael Fabricant and couple other MPs on the Tory side. The Alliance for Stop the lockdown or whoever they were, were there. Lib Dems been out too.

    Spent morning in a nice villagey place next to the M1 very few in. Felt mixed but there was a sizable Labour vote there. Afternoon was spent in an estate with a Wakefield postcode. Better response I thought. But you just don’t know. My MP has been out every day. Says somedays feel good, some feel close and some feel like weve lost. Today she said didn’t feel good but she was pleased by the numbers

  47. The media are giving George Galloway far more attention than he deserves. The way this by-election is being covered you’d think it was a straight fight between him and Kim Leadbetter.

  48. One of my friends met two Galloway voters yesterday which she said was a lot less than when she was in Batley on Tuesday. The staffer from region said Palestine was less of an issue in Clekheaton. My MP said he’s winning over working class Muslim voters and if we do lose it’ll be because of Galloway. I’m not sure I agree. I think people who are voting Galloway would probably not vote for us in this by election.

  49. Who else would Galloway voters go for if not him? I would assume they are dissatisfied Labour voters.

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