THE Conservative’s gamble to run a quiet campaign away from the media, with a relatively unknown candidate from outside Batley and Spen, has failed – leading to the Labour Party holding the seat.
Despite misleading claims on social media that turnout had been as high as 70%, once verification had been completed by around 2am, it was confirmed that 37,786 constituents had in fact voted, giving a 47.6% turnout – down from 66.5% in 2019.
With counting beginning just half-an-hour after polling stations closed, the nation watched to see if Labour would hold the seat o lose yet another brick from the Red Wall.
“The mood is one of optimism,” controversial Bradford West MP Naz Shah said at around 2am.
“No one knows what is going to happen; it’s too close to call. But if I was predicting, it might be 2,000 [votes to give Labour a majority].
“In 2019 it was a marginal seat and we held it.
“But if we win by one vote this time, we still win.”
Meanwhile, George Galloway, leader of the Workers Party, and without doubt the most active candidate throughout the election campaign, announced on Twitter that turnout in one of his key supporting wards was over 70%, raising concerns from Labour Party activists.
The once longtime Labour stronghold has seen a dramatic political change in recent years, with locals moving away from Labour to vote Conservative.
Labour had held the Parliamentary seat for the past 24 years, but with a significantly reduced vote margin of late, and the constituency’s most recent MP, Tracy Brabin, seeing her vote share decrease in 2019 from 9,000 to 3,525.
Mr Galloway’s entrance into the race, considering the large Muslim population of Batley and Spen and his long-time support for Palestine, made the result of this by-election (triggered after Brabin won the mayoral seat of West Yorkshire) a hard one to predict.
But Labour managed to fend-off their competition, in a race that was from the outset pitched to be far harder for the Tories to win than Hartlepool.
The election, however, was extremely close, with Kim Leadbeater winning only by a few hundred votes.
The results are as follows:
Workers Party: 8,264
Lib Dems: 1,254
Yorkshire Party: 816