All you need to know about Batley and Spen by election candidate Kim Leadbeater

On July 1, the country will turn its attention to Batley and Spen.

Labour candidate Kim Leadbeater, the sister of murdered MP Jo Cox, on the campaign trail in Heckmondwike

Thousands of voters will head to the polls to decide who should represent them, after a by-election was triggered when the previous MP, Labour’s Tracy Brabin, had to stand down because she was elected as West Yorkshire’s mayor.Several bookmakers have tipped the Conservatives to take control of Batley and Spen, after an emphatic victory in the 2019 General Election and a surprise win in the Hartlepool by-election earlier this year.

But Labour have held the seat in West Yorkshire for 24 years and their candidate Kim Leadbeater is confident she can come out on top in July’s election.

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Her sister Jo Cox represented Batley and Spen until she was murdered by a right-wing extremist in 2016.

Who is Kim Leadbeater?

Ms Leadbeater, who is now 45-years-old, was born and raised in Heckmondwike and lived with her parents Jean and Gordon Leadbeater and older sister Jo.

She attended Heckmondwike Grammar School with her sister, before she studied at Leeds Metropolitan University and then obtained a PGCE in further education from the University of Huddersfield.

After finishing university, she then worked as a lecturer in physical activity, health and wellbeing at Bradford College and as a health and wellbeing consultant and personal trainer, but never left the area she is now looking to represent.

"The biggest thing for me is that this is my patch,” she told the Yorkshire Post in May.

“This is the area that I've lived in all my life and I've lived in every little bit of it, to be honest so Batley, Heckmondwike, Cleckheaton, Gomersal, Liversedge, Littletown, places that other candidates from other parties probably haven't even heard of.

"So this is very very personal for me and it's very very local for me. I live here, I care about it, and I want to make a difference.”

After the death of her sister, Ms Leadbeater established the Jo Cox Foundation in her honour and became an ambassador for the organisation.

She also became chair of the More in Common Batley & Spen volunteer group, which works to promote social cohesion.

In the 2021 New Year Honours List, she received an MBE for services to the community in Batley & Spen, West Yorkshire, and combatting loneliness during the Covid-19 pandemic.

In May 2021, she was chosen as the candidate who will compete to run the constituency, securing more than 80 per cent of the vote from Batley and Spen Labour members.

She told The Yorkshire Post that she made the "very difficult decision" to enter politics after “lots of long, difficult conversations with family and friends and people who know me".

"No one asked me to put myself forward, I chose to do it off my own back and that's really important to me. I think I've got an amazing team around me, and I think being part of the Labour Party family has also made me feel safe and secure,” she said.

“I'm going into politics to change politics, not to change who I am."