VOTERS in the constituency of Batley and Spen are poised to elect a new MP after Tracy Brabin stepped down from the post.
The constituency’s new representative in Parliament will be decided on July 1, 2021.
Who is standing in the Batley and Spen by-election?
Brabin, 60, a former Coronation Street actress, resigned as an MP after she won the West Yorkshire mayoral election in 2021.
She had served as the MP for the constituency since October 2016.
Then Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn appointed her Shadow Minister for Early Years in July 2017 before promoting her to Shadow Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport in January 2020.
Under Sir Keir Starmer, she was given the new post of Shadow Minister for Cultural Industries in April 2020.
Paul Bickerdike – Christian Peoples Alliance
Bickerdike, and his wife Janet, have worked as foster parents for more than 13 years, raising over 25 children.
He has worked with the homeless, with mental health issues, alcoholics, drug addicts and people with antisocial behaviour orders among others.
In his candidacy statement it says: “He firmly believes in a just society where every individual counts. He wants politics to become relevant to the person on the street again and for people to be able to feel politicians listen to their opinions.
“He has found this in the Christian Peoples alliance and the policies they propose. He feels they will help create a fairer society for all.”
Mike Davies – Alliance For Green Socialism
Davies is a retired IT consultant who has worked in both the public and private sectors.
In his statement he pinpoints what he believes are “two big threats” to people, which must be tackled together.
He writes: “One is the gross inequality and injustice generated by capitalism.
“The other is the environmental degradation, particularly global warming, that threatens to disrupt the life-support system on which our lives depend.”
Jayda Fransen – Independent
Jayda Fransen is a far-right wing activist who was convicted of handing out religiously-aggravated leaflets in 2018.
She was previously associated with the English Defence League (EDL) but left due to its link with alcohol-fuelled violence.
She then joined Britain First which had Paul Golding as its leader at the time.
Fransen served as Deputy Leader from 2014 to 2019.
She became acting leader for six months from December 2016 to June 2017, while Golding was in prison.
George Galloway – Workers Party
Galloway, 66, has been leader of the Workers Party since 2019.
He claims he will serve only one term, if he is elected to Westminster, and says he is fighting on a number of issues – locally, nationally and internationally.
His statement says: “Locally on issues like education, crime, and health, nationally on issues such as Brexit, and globally on issues like the Palestinian conflict.”
He adds: “I will be the voice of Batley and Spen in Westminster, not the voice of Westminster in Batley and Spen.”
Tom Gordon – Liberal Democrats
Councillor Gordon was born in Pontefract and grew up in the area.
He attended Newcastle University and gained an undergraduate degree in Biochemistry before going on to take an MA in Public Health.
In May 2019 he was the first Liberal Democrat to be elected to Wakefield Council in almost a decade.
He now represents his hometowns of Knottingley & Ferrybridge on the Council.
Thérèse Hirst – English Democrats
Hirst is the deputy chairman of the English Democrats.
She finished second to Brabin in the 2016 by-election.
Hirst worked in Kirklees as a teacher of religious education before later going on to study and practise law.
Her campaign is particularly focused on bringing jobs to the area after what she sees has failures by both Labour and Conservatives.
Howling Laud Hope – The Official Monster Raving Loony Party
Alan “Howling Laud” Hope is the leader of the Official Monster Raving Loony Party.
Hope and his cat, Catmando, were elected joint leaders of the party following the death of Screaming Lord Sutch in 1999. Sadly Camando died in a traffic accident in 2002.
At the 2019 general election, he stood in the North-East Hampshire constituency, where he lives.
He received 576 votes, coming last out of six candidates with one per cent of the vote.
Susan Laird – Heritage Party
The Heritage Party describes itself as a “socially conservative political party” and claims to an alternative to the two party system.
In her statement Laird says: “The Heritage Party is the alternative which is patriotic, traditional, and will make the most of our opportunities to thrive after Brexit.
“We stand for all the things that are simple common sense that other parties are now against: defending our culture and heritage, national sovereignty, traditional family values, free and fair markets, free speech and liberty, and low immigration.”
Kim Leadbeater – Labour Party
Leadbeater is the sister of murdered MP Jo Cox who previously represented the constituency.
The younger sibling grew up with her family in Heckmondwike before becoming a lecturer.
The pair were close and spent a lot of time together doing various activities.
They were a part of Brownies and would often go cycling in the area they lived.
Kim said her sister was shyer than herself and worked hard to improve on her public speaking.
Since Jo’s death she has thrown herself into continuing her work and encouraging others to come together.
Oliver Purser – Social Democratic Party
Purser is a recent graduate with a degree in Natural Sciences from Durham.
In his statement he says: “The SDP is the party for the family, the community and the nation. We believe in long term, powerful investment to grow British industry and provide well-paid sustainable work.”
He adds: “We combine economic investment with a communitarian outlook… We offer a unique blend of centre-left economics with a commitment to conserving the values which bind our communities together.”
Corey Robinson – Yorkshire Party
Robinson was born and bred in the constituency and is a passionate Yorkshireman.
The party believes in creating a Parliament for the county in order to promote a “better Yorkshire for all”.
The party’s manifesto states: “We will always fight for local community politics fought on local community issues.”
It adds: “Yorkshire needs a fairer system of government, it needs the power to improve its hospitals, its schools and its environment.”
Andrew Smith – Rejoin EU
As the name of the party suggests, Smith is strongly pro-EU, wanting the UK to rejoin the European Union.
Smith, who spent some of his childhood living in Bradford, has a degree in Environmental Sciences and is a qualified accountant who was the finance director of a leading insurance company before becoming the chief executive of one of the largest pension schemes in the country.
In a statement, the party said: “Rejoin EU has a single policy, which is for the UK to rejoin the European Union.”
Ryan Stephenson – Conservative Party
Stephenson was born and raised in a pit village in West Yorkshire and studied at Leeds University.
His campaign has focused on local business and the need to create “good local jobs” as well as need to cut crime.
He has vowed to “work with police to cut crime and put more officers on the beat” and create more opportunities for young people.
Stephenson has also raised the need to improve local transport links.
Jack Thomson – UK Independence Party (Ukip)
Thomson comes from a working-class background who claims to understand “the every-day struggles that real people face in their everyday lives.”
He says: “The candidates that the electorate “should fear” are both the Tory and Labour offerings who are just ready to roll out the same old brand of shut-up and put-up politics, concentrating only on the numbers in Westminster and not about the people who put them there.”
Jonathan Tilt – Freedom Alliance
Tilt is the treasurer and founder member of the party and is a chartered accountant who after working in financial management for twenty years retrained as an acupuncturist.
The party’s webpage states: “Our clear aim is to build a grassroots movement that is organised and co-ordinated locally with minimal central management.”
Tilt previously stood in the Kirklees local election earlier this year and picked up 79 votes.
Anne Marie Waters – The For Britain Movement
The anti-Islam campaigner is a far-right activist and the founder of For Britain.
In the past she challenged Henry Bolton for the leadership of Ukip, but lost, in 2017.
Waters, originally from Dublin, describes herself as “passionately, loyally, resolutely and proudly British.”
Waters also launched anti-Islam organisation, Pegida UK, with former EDL leader Tommy Robinson in 2016.