Heckmondwike councillor enters race for Labour nomination in Batley & Spen

A Heckmondwike councillor is the latest to enter the race to become Labour’s candidate in the looming Batley and Spen by-election.

Heckmondwike councillor Aafaq Butt

Aafaq Butt, who was elected to Kirklees Council in 2019, has announced his intention to stand for the Labour nomination.

He said: “I think most people know me quite well but being local has enabled me to form relationships with so many people, and being a local councillor has helped me embed myself within the local community and get to the heart of your issues.”

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Mr Butt is a healthcare professional working in cancer care and has liaised with charities and organisation that seek to eradicate hate crimes.

He wants to ensure that “all voices are heard at the tables of power from all sides of Batley and Spen” and and says it would be his “ultimate honour and privilege” to represent the area in Parliament.

Applications for potential candidates are now closed, with the Labour Party expecting to announce a shortlist on Saturday, followed by selection on Sunday.

Other candidates in the Labour contest include Kim Leadbeater, sister of former MP Jo Cox who is the founder of the Batley-based Jo Cox Foundation and chair of the networking group More In Common, and Batley East councillor Habiban Zaman, who has been active in the area for 30 years including via her constituency work with former Labour MPs Mike Wood, Mrs Cox and latterly for Tracy Brabin, who resigned as MP when she was elected as West Yorkshire Mayor.

No-one else has formally declared their intentions but the Local Democracy Reporting Service understands that the party may also be considering Huddersfield lawyer Hugh Goulbourne, who was on the Labour shortlist last year for the West Yorkshire mayoral nomination.

The Conservatives’ choice to contest the seat is Ryan Stephenson, a councillor in Leeds and currently chairman of the West Yorkshire Conservatives.

George Galloway has also said he will stand in Batley and Spen on behalf of the Workers Party of Britain. His avowed intention is to soak up some Labour votes in an attempt to destabilise Sir Keir Starmer.

And Paul Halloran, who stood as an independent in the 2019 general election and came third, securing 6,432 votes, is also on the sidelines. His involvement could draw away some traditional Tory voters.