Kim Leadbeater's wise call for political reset after bitter Batley and Spen by-election: The Yorkshire Post says

It took extraordinary courage for Kim Leadbeater to stand for Parliament in the Batley and Spen constituency which had not only been her lifelong home but also the place where her sister Jo Cox was murdered in the street by a far-right terrorist five years ago.

Kim Leadbeater sitting in the seat previously used by her sister, the murdered MP Jo Cox, during Prime Minister's Questions in the House of Commons, London. Picture: UK Parliament/Jessica Taylor /PA Wire
Kim Leadbeater sitting in the seat previously used by her sister, the murdered MP Jo Cox, during Prime Minister's Questions in the House of Commons, London. Picture: UK Parliament/Jessica Taylor /PA Wire

Sadly, the recent by-election contest for the seat descended into divisive and bitter battle, with campaigners being physically assaulted and Ms Leadbeater being intimidatingly accosted in the street.

She has told The Yorkshire Post today of her wish to use her platform as an MP to campaign for improved civility in public life – both in real life and on social media – and encouraging people to treat each other with respect, even when they disagree.

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“We can’t have a situation where people are being attacked in the street and having things thrown at them and people just screaming at each other,” she inarguably explains.

It is a powerful call from a woman whose family know tragically more than most about the downsides and dangers of life in the public eye.

Her comments have been separately echoed by former Conservative minister Justine Greening, who writes today that the Batley and Spen by-election “typified so much that has gone wrong with modern politics with the culture wars that seem to dominate our political discourse”.

Ms Greening wisely notes that such divisions based on shouting down the other side are putting off the task of building a better and fairer country.

She adds: “Recent elections have shown that party affiliation and the colour of a candidate’s political rosette matters less and less to voters. The dividing line will be between those in politics who are the destructive shouters, and those who are the constructive fixers.”

Ms Leadbeater’s election should be seized as a moment to herald a more positive new chapter in political discourse. The country will be the better for it.

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