It’s a beautiful symbol: Friday July 2, in the early hours of the day, after a feverish vote count, Kim Leadbeater, the little sister of Jo Cox, Labor MP murdered by a neo-Nazi on June 16, 2016, was elected in turn. Also under the colors of Labor and in the same constituency as Jo: Batley and Spen, in West Yorkshire (England). In this by-election closely watched by the British media, Kim won with only 323 votes over the Conservative candidate, Ryan Stephenson. But she still managed to keep a seat held by Labor for almost twenty-five years. For Keir Starmer, the leader of Labor, the relief was palpable on Friday: in the event of defeat, his authority, already weakened, threatened to be called into question.
Kim Leadbeater, a sports teacher, has devoted much to the memory of Jo Cox after her passing just five years ago, working to establish the charitable Jo Cox Foundation. New to politics, she embarked on the Battle of Batley at the end of the spring with a simple slogan: she is best able to understand the expectations of the inhabitants, being ” the only ” candidates for “Have lived all his life in the constituency ». But the campaign has been very harsh. “I am delighted that the inhabitants [de Batley and Spen] rejected divisions and voted for hope ” said Mme Leadbeater Friday morning, adding: “I would like to say a very big thank you to the police for their protection, which I have unfortunately needed a lot in recent weeks. ”
Contexte local sensible
The local context was sensitive, with a strong Muslim community of Pakistani origin, including a handful of particularly protesting elements. In early 2021, Batley hit the headlines when parents of students, very agitated, protested several days in front of a college in the area, accusing one of the teachers of showing a caricature of Muhammad to the students. The teacher had to leave the school, fearing for his safety. It is on this delicate ground that an opportunist candidate, George Galloway, former Labor MP, fleeting supporter of the Brexit Party and now leader of a microscopic Workers’ Party, has worked to sharpen tensions local, with a stated goal: to lose Labor. He claimed that the party no longer supported the Palestinian cause, since Keir Starmer decided to end the anti-Semitism rampant in its ranks.
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