Batley and Spen by-election barometer – The Yorkshire Post says

THE first major test of Sir Keir Starmer’s new-look front bench will, in all likelihood, come in the Batley and Spen by-election after Tracy Brabin, the area’s MP since 2016, became West Yorkshire’s first metro mayor.

Tracy Brabin is the new mayor of West Yorkshire.

Here Labour will be defending an ominous majority of 3,525 votes – just 70 less than the 3,595-majority that Tory candidate Gill Mortimer, a North Yorkshire farmer, overturned so dramatically in last week’s Hartlepool by-election.

And, while all seats have their own characteristics, there will be a far greater onus on the main parties to offer specific policies on how they intend to invest in jobs and services in West Yorkshire.

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Hiding behind the term ‘levelling up’, political shorthand to mask the opaqueness of policy-making when it comes to the Northern Powerhouse and measures for the ‘red wall’ being outlined in the Queen’s Speech today, will not suffice with voters renowned for their plain-speaking.

Tracy Brabin, the Batley and Spen MP, is the new West Yorkshire mayor.

Much, too, will depend on the effectiveness of Ms Brabin in her first few weeks as Britain’s first ever female metro mayor – another long-overdue landmark in national politics. She now has a significant job in establishing her team and then implementing her agenda when many are still sceptical about the remit.

She now needs to win the doubters over – and work in partnership with the business community, and the Government, to attract new public and private sector investment to the area. However the critical test is this. If Ms Brabin succeeds with this objective, the whole of Yorkshire can reap the rewards.

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