Batley and Spen: Kay Burley asks if Matt Hancock ‘cost result’
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Although the Labour party managed to retain the seat, former No10 pollster James Johnson warned of a major swing away from the Opposition. Despite the seat being held by Labour since 1997, Mr Johnson revealed there had been a 2.9 percent swing to the Tories. According to the pollster, this is the largest swing towards a governing party in 39 years.
Due to this, Mr Johnson claimed the serious issues within the Opposition still remain despite some in Labour revelling in the by-election win.
He said: “For all saying Labour’s hold in Batley and Spen is a great result for them: apart from the remarkably rare Tory gains in Copeland and Hartlepool, the 2.9% swing away from Labour last night was the biggest swing towards a governing party in 39 years.
“An immediate sigh of relief for Starmer, yes but this result is an indication of Labour’s problems – not the opposite.”
Kim Leadbeater managed to cling on to victory with a majority of just 323 votes ahead of Tory candidate, Ryan Stephenson.
George Galloway’s Workers Party for Britain came third with 8,264 votes.
Despite winning the seat, Labour lost 7.4 percent of their votes from the 2019 general election.
While the Tories also lost a small 1.7 percent of their own vote from 2019, it shows dwindling support for the Opposition party.
Such was the pressure on Sir Keir to win the by-election, it had been thought members of the Shadow Cabinet such as Angela Rayner had begun to prepare a leadership bid.
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One Labour source said: “Everyone’s been calling this a referendum on Keir’s leadership.
“Well we’ve won – bucked the trend, held on to this marginal seat and advanced in Tory areas”.
While Labour managed to win in Batley, the party has faced a string of poor electoral performances.
In May, the party lost 327 councillors and a further eight council seats.
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Labour also lost Hartlepool to the Tories as Boris Johnson continues to sweep up areas that turned their back on Labour due to Brexit.
While not expected to win, the Labour party only managed a minuscule 622 votes in the Chesham and Amersham election as the Lib Dems pulled off a surprise victory.
Despite these poor performances, Sir Keir struck an optimistic tone today following the result in Batley and Spen.
Sir Keir concluded: “This is a fantastic result for the brilliant and brave Kim Leadbeater who will be an incredible Labour MP for Batley and Spen.
“Kim has shown inspiring resilience in the face of hatred and intimidation. She was unafraid to call it out and ran a positive campaign of hope.
“Kim embodies everything I want the Labour Party to stand for: passionate about her local community and determined to bring people together.
“We won this election against the odds, and we did so by showing that when we are true to our values – decency, honesty, committed to improving lives – then Labour can win.
“This result shows Labour at its best. This is just the start.”
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