Tory candidate believes Batley and Spen voters are ready for change after 24 years of Labour

The Conservative candidate standing in the Batley and Spen by-election believes it will be “really tough” to win a seat which has been held by Labour for 24 years but voters are ready for change.

Ryan Stephenson on the campaign trail in Batley

Ryan Stephenson said if he is elected, he will focus on securing additional investment for the area, creating jobs and apprenticeships, improving schools and bolstering the police force with more officers.

The 32-year-old, who is a councillor on Leeds City Council, claimed that voters he has spoken to in Batley want a “proactive and hard working” MP and they “haven’t had that very recently”.

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“The key message I’m hearing from people on the doorstep, is they’re fed up with people always having a pop at the government, when actually they just want somebody to get on with the job, and deliver for people locally,” he said.

The by-election, which will take place on July 1, was triggered when the previous MP, Labour’s Tracy Brabin, had to stand down because she was elected as West Yorkshire’s mayor.

The seat has been held by Labour since 1997, and the party’s candidate for the upcoming election is Kim Leadbeater, sister of Jo Cox, who represented the area before she was murdered by a right-wing extremist.

After an emphatic victory in the 2019 General Election and a surprise victory in the Hartlepool by-election, several bookmakers have the Tories as favourites to take Batley and Spen.

But Mr Stephenson said it is "going to be a tight race" and he will have to "fight for every vote".

“This has been a Labour seat for a quarter of a century, so it’s going to be a tough challenge. But, with this positive message, let’s hope it’s enough this time so we can really deliver positive change,” he said.

"It matters what happens on poll day and what matters in the run up to the election is talking to people, listening to the issues that matter to them and telling them how we're going to be dealing with those issues."

Former Labour MP George Galloway, Tom Gordon (Liberal Democrat), Ross Peltier (Green Party), Corey Robinson (Yorkshire Party), and former Britain First deputy leader Jayda Fransen are also standing in the by-election.