Wakefield Council result 'vote of confidence' for Labour as race to be party's by-election candidate hots up

Labour’s increased majority on Wakefield Council represents a “vote of confidence” in the party ahead of the imminent by-election in the city, a senior Yorkshire MP has said.

Louise Haigh, Labour’s Shadow Transport Secretary and MP for Sheffield Heeley, said the outcome of the local vote was a promising sign for the party’s chances in the by-election which has been caused by the resignation of Tory MP Imran Ahmad Khan following his conviction for sexual assault.

Ms Haigh said: “The results are a vote of confidence in the Labour Party to help deliver a fresh start for Wakefield and close a chapter on 12 years of Tory failure in Wakefield.”

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Last week’s elections saw Labour increase its majority on Wakefield Council, winning 45 seats against 13 for the Tories, three for the Liberal Democrats and two independents.

Louise Haigh has hailed Labour's council election results in Wakefield ahead of a by-election in the city.

Labour made an overall gain of one seat after winning both Wrenthorpe and Outwood West and Horbury and South Ossett from the Conservatives.

However, the party lost the seat of Knottingley to the Liberal Democrats.

It comes as Wakefield Council’s deputy leader Jack Hemingway has put his name forward to be Labour’s candidate in the forthcoming by-election.

Coun Hemingway said on Twitter: “Today I’m submitting my application to be Labour’s candidate for my home city of Wakefield. I have a proud track record as a local councillor and union organiser.

“I will help us to reconnect with the local community and rebuild on firmer foundations.”

Fellow Wakefield councillor Michael Graham is also in the running.

“I have a proven track record of working hard, listening to what residents want and delivering for our community,” he said. “Wakefield needs a local candidate who lives here and who understands the issues that local people are facing.”

Kate Dearden, head of research, policy and external relations for the Community union, has also put her name forward.

She said: “I’ve dedicated my life to the Labour movement and have a proud record of winning for workers. I’m the candidate who can build the team that beats the Tories and wins back Wakefield.”

Simon Lightwood, a member of the Labour’s national policy forum, the Yorkshire Labour regional board and an NHS worker, is also entering the race.

He said: “After listening to members and with strong support across Wakefield CLP, I’ve applied to be the Labour candidate in the by-election. Wakefield needs an MP who understands their concerns, has walked in their shoes, and will give them back a voice.”

Sam Howarth, who works for Labour MP and outgoing South Yorkshire mayor Dan Jarvis, has also announced his candidacy.

He said: “Wakefield has been without a voice for too long. That’s why I’m stepping forward to be the Labour candidate.

“Together we can be that voice. Together we can win.”

Former Wakefield MP Mary Creagh and ex-Morley and Outwood MP Ed Balls have both ruled out standing.

The date of the by-election is yet to be confirmed.

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Imran Ahmad Khan resigns as Wakefield MP following sexual assault conviction

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