Sister of murdered MP Jo Cox puts herself forward as Labour candidate in Batley & Spen by-election

The sister of murdered MP Jo Cox will put herself forward to be the Labour candidate for the by-election in her old constituency of Batley & Spen.

Kim Leadbeater, 44, said she would be ‘honoured’ to stand for the party in her hometown after doing ‘a lot of soul-searching’ about what’s ‘best for the place I love’.

The campaigner and ambassador for the Jo Cox Foundation confirmed today to Batley and Birstall News that she was putting her hat in the ring.

The by-election was called after Tracy Brabin was elected as the first mayor of West Yorkshire on Sunday.

Labour is now defending a slender majority of 3,525 votes in a seat it has held since 1997.

Losing the seat to the Conservatives would pile further pressure on Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer after the disastrous Hartlepool by-election result and a poor showing in last week’s local elections.

Ms Leadbeater’s sister, Mrs Cox, was tragically murdered while serving as MP for the constituency in 2016. 

Kim Leadbeater

Kim Leadbeater

Jo Cox

Jo Cox

Kim Leadbeater (left), sister of murdered MP Jo Cox (right), will put herself forward to be the Labour candidate for the by-election in her old constituency of Batley & Spen

Local election results suggest that Labour will struggle to hang on when it calls the by-election

Local election results suggest that Labour will struggle to hang on when it calls the by-election

Local election results suggest that Labour will struggle to hang on when it calls the by-election

Labour’s campaigns chief suggests ‘important’ by-election could be make-or-break for Starmer 

Labour’s new campaigns chief this week admitted Keir Starmer faces a ‘big test’ with another Red Wall seat up for grabs in a by-election.

Shabana Mahmood, fresh from promotion in a reshuffle, suggested the outcome of the ‘important’ battle in Batley and Spen could be make-or-break. 

The Red Wall constituency needs a new MP after Tracy Brabin won the race to become West Yorkshire mayor – meaning she will quit the Commons.

Ms Brabin held the constituency with a majority of just 3,525 over the Tories in 2019.

But local election results suggest that Labour will struggle to hang on when it calls the ballot to replace her. Ward level results put the Tories marginally ahead – although voting habits often vary between council and Westminster contests.   

The Conservatives overturned a Labour majority of 3,595 in last week’s Hartlepool by-election, winning by 6,940 votes.

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Ms Leadbeater told the Batley and Birstall News that the prospect of the forthcoming by-election for Batley and Spen ‘has affected me deeply in ways I really hadn’t expected’.

She said: ‘I’ve had to do a lot of soul-searching and thinking about what’s best for the place I love.

‘I’ve been moved by how many local people from across the area, many Labour Party members but others too, have been in touch asking me if I would stand in the by-election.

‘It has knocked me for six. I would love to represent this extraordinary, vibrant place that I have called home all my life.

‘I am touched that so many people seem to think I would do a good job and I can promise that if they want me I will give my all for Batley and Spen at Westminster.

‘The truth is, I have never really seen myself as a political animal, but I care deeply about the area where I was born and have always lived, and where the people are second to none.

‘This community picked me up when I needed it most and I will be forever grateful.

‘Everyone knows I talk a lot, but I also listen a lot. And I’ve listened to hundreds of people over these last few years. I’ve heard how disillusioned and disengaged they are with politics and how worried they are about the future of our towns and villages.

‘And I’ve listened to their ideas about how we can give Batley and Spen an even brighter future. I won’t pretend to have all the answers, but I will speak up wherever and whenever it takes, so the voice of this constituency is heard loud and clear.

‘Strengthening the community that I love and taking it forward will be a team effort but I’m ready to take a lead in that. I’ll be talking a lot to Labour members in the next little while – but mainly, once again, listening to what they have to say.

‘And if they put their confidence in me to be their candidate then I would be honoured to represent them and give the people of Batley & Spen the opportunity to put their trust in me.’

Ms Leadbeater revealed in 2017 that ’eminent politicians’ had tried to persuade her to stand to replace her sister as Batley & Spen following her murder the previous June.

The by-election was called after Tracy Brabin (pictured) was elected as the first mayor of West Yorkshire on Sunday

The by-election was called after Tracy Brabin (pictured) was elected as the first mayor of West Yorkshire on Sunday

The by-election was called after Tracy Brabin (pictured) was elected as the first mayor of West Yorkshire on Sunday

She told The Yorkshire Post at the time: ‘In the weeks after Jo was killed, what was hard for me was that I had people, eminent politicians, saying it would be great if I wanted to be the next MP and it was something I should consider.

‘It wasn’t my world, it was Jo’s world, I am not a political animal, I supported Jo because she was my sister and I think people locally found this quite hard to understand.

‘Jo wasn’t my MP, she was my sister, but because people locally knew Jo through the Labour party, it was like ‘it must be really hard for you, who is going to get the job’.

‘It makes no difference to me who gets that job, because Jo is my sister, as long as it is a good person doing that job, that’s fine. I didn’t engage with the previous MP, and I didn’t want anything to do with politics going forward, it was Jo that got me into that.

‘And that was just Jo doing what Jo did, which was try to help people. But you do doubt yourself and think ‘maybe I should be the next MP, maybe that is the answer’.

‘Thank God you don’t make decisions when you are so emotionally vulnerable and raw. Because I could have agreed to do anything.

‘Thank God you have got the sensibility to think ‘I will just sleep on that’.

‘I might have got it, and that would have been ridiculous because we had the trial to get through, we had our first Christmas to get through, we had so much to get through.’

The Red Wall constituency needs a new MP after Tracy Brabin won the race to become West Yorkshire mayor – meaning she will quit the Commons.

Ms Brabin held the constituency with a majority of just 3,525 over the Tories in 2019.

But local election results suggest that Labour will struggle to hang on when it calls the ballot to replace her. Ward level results put the Tories marginally ahead – although voting habits often vary between council and Westminster contests. 

Ms Leadbeater, who chairs the More in Common Batley and Spen community volunteer group, was awarded an MBE in the new year honours in December for her work tackling social isolation during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Link hienalouca.com

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