Ex-Labour MP George Galloway joins Batley and Spen by-election race. The message is loud and clear – if you want to see the back of Sir Keir Starmer, George is your man.
The former MP and veteran campaigner is standing as a candidate for his Workers Party of Britain in the Batley & Spen poll on July first.
The political maverick has stated that he will contest the West Yorkshire marginal with a majority of just over 3500, the Red wall constituency is considered a must-win contest for Sir Keir Starmer, the Labour leader.
In a video posted on his social media feeds, filmed at Batley bus station, George Galloway declared: “I’m standing against Keir Starmer.
“So, if for whatever reason you think that the current leader of the Labour Party needs to be replaced, I’m your man.”
After the Labour party’s defeat to the Tories in the recent Hartlepool byelection, Labour had been regarded as facing a tough battle to hold Batley and Spen when voters go to the polls on 1 July.
There are claims that Galloway’s entry could potentially increase the chances of a Conservative win, however, if history shows us anything it’s that George Galloway has the ability to not only take votes from Labour but to win the seat outright on his own merits, he certainly has form.
This is a multicultural constituency with a large Muslim community, it’s hard to see how Starmer’s lack of empathy with the oppressed Palestinians will translate into votes.
Having the sister of jo Cox carry the baton for Labour has been met with a large dollop of cynicism. Initially seen within the party as the safest bet, but already there’s now a bit of a feeling on the ground amongst the party and supporters locally that it’s a very poor ‘cynical’ move on Labour’s part, Kim Leadbeater has only been a Labour Party member for 3 weeks (party rules say 1 year. A big question is was she approached to stand by the Labour Party or did she join and approach them? Labour once again seem to think placing a Remainer in a strongly Leave seat no matter who’s sister was a good idea.
Galloway, a former Labour MP has form winning Labour seats, he won decisively against the Labour party in previous battles standing for Respect at the 2005 general election at Bethnal Green and Bow, where he defeated the sitting Labour MP, Oona King, and served for one parliamentary term. He did not contest the 2010 general election, however, he returned to the House of Commons at the Bradford West by-election, 2012, where he won by a Majority: 10,140 (30.9%) an amazing Swing of 36.6% from Labour to Respect Galloways former party.
Curtains for Starmer.
In announcing on Thursday that he would stand, Galloway made it clear that his focus was on placing Labour’s leader under pressure. “I’m standing against Keir Starmer. If Keir Starmer loses this byelection it’s curtains for Keir Starmer,” he said in a video posted online.
Batley and Spen by election: The other runners and riders?
The fortunes of both of the main parties are hanging on this seat. Labour will be desperate to claw back some credibility following a bruising set of local elections, while the Tories will want to show its winning streak doesn’t apply just to the classic “Red Wall” seats of the traditional Labour Heartlands.
Labour after some controversy over rule-bending have selected Kim Leadbeater – the sister of Jo Cox, who was Batley and Spen’s MP until she was murdered in the constituency in 2016 – was selected as Labour’s candidate earlier this week.
But the Conservatives, who have chosen Leeds councillor Ryan Stephenson as their candidate, will also be looking closely at who else is on the ballot paper, potentially complicating the electoral maths.
In the December 2019 general election, Paul Halloran, representing the Heavy Woollen District Independents, came third in Batley and Spen, securing more than 6,000 votes – 12 per cent of the total.
Mr Halloran has not yet confirmed whether he is standing on July 1.
And the Yorkshire Party, which has selected local engineer Corey Robinson to fight the by-election, came third in the recent West Yorkshire mayoral election, with nearly 10% of the vote, beating the Greens and the Liberal Democrats.
Mr Galloway has certainty put the cat amongst the pigeons. The Batley and Spen by election is turning out to be a decisive action in the current political battlefield the biggest causality could well be the Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer and ultimately a new leadership contest and hopefully a switch back to the Left for Labour, after all who needs two Tory parties one is bad enough.