“If I can be half the MP Jo was, that will be pretty good going,” she reflected after a particularly fractious campaign.
No politician, or candidate for public office, should require the level of police protection that had to be provided to Ms Leadbeater after this campaign became marred by intimidation, threats and violence – mostly perpetuated by outsiders intent on fuelling racial division, homophobia and community tensions.
And that Ms Leadbeater prevailed, albeit by a much reduced 323 votes, is testament to the esteem in which she, and her family, are held and the deep desire of the people of Batley and Spen to be represented by a grass roots politician in the seat’s best traditions.
As such, The Yorkshire Post congratulates Ms Leadbeater and is confident that her presence at Westminster will enhance the national debate and ensure Yorkshire’s voice is heard even more clearly.
But time will tell if her narrow victory stabilises Sir Keir Starmer’s position – the Labour leader chose, unlike Hartlepool, not to visit West Yorkshire in the final stages of the campaign.
And what about Boris Johnson who did make two visits to Batley? This is a deeply disappointing defeat for the Tories – they expected to win the seat – and follows the party’s loss of Chesham and Amersham just last month.
The Prime Minister will hope that this is not the end of his advance in so-called ‘red wall’ seats. Equally it remains to be seen whether myriad sleaze scandals, notably Matt Hancock’s downfall, are now beginning to cut through with voters.
Such dilemmas make this result so fascinating – could recent small and subtle shifts in public opinion be the precursor to more profound changes in the nation’s political dynamics? Time will tell.
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