UK Labour narrowly wins by-election after divisive battle

Batley and Spen: UK Labour narrowly retains seat as Galloway threatens legal action
2 min read
02 July, 2021
The result has given a brief respite for Labour leader Keir Starmer, whose leadership has come under question among party members and MPs.
Kim Leadbeater narrowly won the electin by 323 votes [Getty]

The UK's opposition Labour Party narrowly retained the northern English seat of Batley and Spen on Friday, winning the by-election by just 323 votes.

The result of Thursday's vote has given a brief respite for Labour leader Keir Starmer, whose leadership has come under question among party members and MPs.

Labour's Kim Leadbeater, sister of slain Batley and Spen MP Jo Cox, claimed 35.3 percent of the vote, followed by Conservative candidate Ryan Stephenson with 34.4 percent.

"I think sadly we've seen some nastiness during this by election campaign, and there are some divisions that need to be healed, but I think if anyone can achieve that, then, then I can," Leadbeater said to the BBC following the result.

“I conducted a very positive campaign, I focused very much on the good people of Batley and Spen."

Ex-Labour and Respect MP George Galloway came third with 21.8 per cent of the vote, however has claimed that he has "multiple grounds" to overturn the result.

Galloway has said he will take legal action for what he says were "false statements" made about him.

He claimed that a "false statement" about him laughing while Leadbeater was being abused had been circulated.

Some canvassers were allegedly pelted with eggs and kicked, though it is unclear who was behind their attacks.

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Galloway ran for the Workers Party for Britain and made the Palestine issue central to his campaign.

Observers predicted that the Labour party would lose Muslim voters, many of whom were disillusioned by Keir Starmer's position on international issues, including Israel’s aggression against Palestinians.

A recent poll commissioned by the Labour Muslim Network (LMN) made plain that the British Muslim community have not warmed to Labour leader Starmer, with the leader’s net favourability at minus 7 per cent. 

"There is a widening gap between British Muslims who identify with The Labour Party and those who support Keir Starmer," Carl Shoben from Survation, the organisation that conducted the poll, told The New Arab.