KIM Leadbeater, the sister of Jo Cox who only joined the Labour party last week, has officially been selected as the party’s candidate in the upcoming by-election for Batley and Spen.
In what many are describing as a desparate and distasteful ploy to ‘win the sympathy vote’, Keir Starmer and Labour’s NEC waived the party’s own rule that clearly states a person can only be considered for becoming a candidate for the Labour party after being a member for over 12 months.
Leadbeater – a personal fitness instructor who has confessed she has little interest in politics – was chosen over numerous candidates with years of experience, in an intentionally rushed candidate selection process that concluded yesterday (just one day after applications were accepted).
The once longtime Labour stronghold of Batley and Spen 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.
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”.
Celebrating her selection, Kim Leadbeater said: “I’m the candidate the Tories fear. They know that I have a proven track record of getting things done at a local level and an established reputation for working for all parts of the community.