Call for calm as Batley and Spen by-election tensions rise: The Yorkshire Post says

As the final 48 hours of campaigning in the Batley and Spen by-election gets under way, it can only be hoped that Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s condemnation of some of the ugly scenes seen during so far in an increasingly-toxic battle goes some way to helping reduce the temperature.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson pictured during his visit to PPG Architectural Coatings, Huddersfield Road, Birstall, West Yorkshire. Picture by Simon Hulme
Prime Minister Boris Johnson pictured during his visit to PPG Architectural Coatings, Huddersfield Road, Birstall, West Yorkshire. Picture by Simon Hulme

During a visit to the area, Mr Johnson told The Yorkshire Post he was sickened and appalled to hear of physical assaults on Labour activists on the campaign trail in recent days.

It follows the Labour candidate Kim Leadbeater, the sister of former MP Jo Cox who was murdered in the constituency by a Neo-Nazi terrorist in 2016, being harangued in the street by an anti-gay rights activist on Friday. Existing religious and cultural tensions in the area are being exploited in numerous ways by extremists who benefit from such divisions.

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The election, which involves 16 candidates but is effectively a two-horse race between Labour and the Conservatives, has also become increasingly focused on international politics above local concerns.

Former Labour MP George Galloway is running a heavily pro-Palestinian campaign in Batley in what is an explicit attempt to take Labour votes and increase the chances of Keir Starmer being removed as leader.

Meanwhile, the emergence of a Labour leaflet criticising Mr Johnson for his relationship with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and saying the Prime Minister is “silent on human rights abuses in Kashmir” shows Mr Galloway is far from the only person bringing up global affairs.

If there is one constituency in the country that deserves a respectfully-conducted by-election given its recent tragic history, it is Batley and Spen. The fact that has not happened up to this point is deeply saddening. Calmness and decency must prevail ahead of Thursday’s vote.

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