KIM Leadbeater, who admits that she ‘is not political’, only joined the Labour Party last week, yet has quickly been selected as the Labour candidate for the upcoming by-election in Batley and Spen.
The once longtime Labour stronghold has seen a dramatic political change in recent years, with locals moving away from Labour to vote Conservative.
Labour have, however, clung onto the Parliamentary seat, but with a significantly reduced vote margin, and the constituency’s most recent MP, Tracy Brabin seeing her vote share decrease in 2019 from 9,000 to 3,525.
Upon Tracy Brabin’s successful West Yorkshire mayoral bid this month, the Labour MP and former soap actress created a further headache for her party after having to automatically resign from her role in Parliament, triggering a by-election that follows disastrous ‘Super Thursday’ results for Labour across the country.
Already, some have accused the Labour Party, who are concerned about losing the seat after losing the by-election in Hartlepool, of opportunism – quickly selecting the sister of Jo Cox in a desparate attempt to exploit justified sympathy for her sister, Jo Cox, who was murdered during the 2016 referendum.
Applications to be the Labour candidate opened today, yet will close tomorrow, in what some believe to be a clear sign that Leadbetter is being ‘rushed through the process’, and is already the chosen candidate.
In fact, Leadbeater, who until just last week had never been a party member, is the ONLY candidate currently under consideration.
On Saturday, Labour’s ruling body, the National Executive Committee (NEC), will draw up a shortlist of candidates, with members making the final decision on Sunday after an online hustings.
Yet the list is a short one, with Leadbeater being the only person on the list after candidate hopefuls Shabir Pandor (leader of Kirkless Council) and Leeds councillor Salma Arif withdrew their bids following Ms Leadbeater’s statement of intent to stand.
Speaking to Yorkshire Live, a Labour source said there was “no short-cut to winning” in Batley & Spen, and that “pursuing what is, in effect, a sympathy vote” represented “a massive gamble”.