Labour’s Batley & Spen by-election campaign disintegrates following series of critical errors

The Labour Party’s campaign in Batley & Spen, where a by-election is being held on Thursday, is on the ropes after the party tried to claw back Muslim voters following George Galloway’s entry into the race with ill-advised campaign literature.

But that is not the only misstep causing problems after it emerged candidate, Kim Leadbeater was associated with a £1,000 donation to an extremely controversial Muslim charity.

This site reported yesterday on how Labour’s dangerous game of identity politics is backfiring following the release of footage of Leadbeater struggling to answer questions by local Muslims on her LGBT stance. In the clip, she is seen walking back to her car as a man asks her to “reassure Muslim parents who don’t want their children to learn about LGBT”.

Labour is in danger of coming third on Thursday due to passionately pro-Muslim veteran politician George Galloway’s presence on the ballot. According to the 2011 census, 52.2% of Batley East is Muslim while 30.5% of the population are Muslim.

Desperate to get those votes back, Leadbeater’s campaign has printed leaflets showing prime minister Boris Johnson looking chummy with his Indian counterpart, Hindu nationalist, Narendra Modi. The image is accompanied by the line: “Don’t risk a Tory MP who is not on your side”.

The leaflet even includes an arrow pointing at supposed pals Johnson and Modi with the text “the risk of voting for anyone but Labour is clear” placed inside the arrow. The wording is clearly intended to put voters off voting for Galloway as well as Boris’s candidate.

Accusations of stoking racial tensions were quickly levelled. Labour Friends of India issued a statement that read: “It is unfortunate that the Labour Party used a picture of the prime minister of India, the world’s largest democracy and one of the UK’s closest friends, from the G7 in 2019, on its leaflet.

“We ask the Labour Party to withdraw the leaflet immediately and we will also be writing to the leadership about this.”

The Telegraph reports that the party refused to answer questions on the leaflet.

Despite being a local girl, Leadbeater is not thought to have been a popular choice among activists due to her lack of experience. Her stock will have fallen with voters as well after it emerged a foundation she represents gave £1,000 to notorious charity, Purpose of Life.

In March, the Muslim charity identified the Batley Grammar School teacher who showed pictures of the Prophet Muhammad in a religious studies class on free speech. The shocking intervention led to the teacher going into hiding with his family.

Pouring extra fuel, the charity’s leader, Mohammad Sajad Hussain accused the teacher of “sadistic behaviour” and called for him to be “permanently removed”. The teacher’s father told the press shortly afterwards his son feared for his life.

Hussain was invited onto Julia Hartley-Brewer’s TalkRadio show and asked no less than five times whether he would advocate beheading over images of the Mohammed (see clip below).

Guido Fawkes report that Leadbeater is an ambassador for the Jo Cox Foundation, which handed Purpose of Life the big cheque after it all kicked off at Batley Grammar. She has not stepped down from her post since being made a parliamentary candidate.

And these are just the most recent strategic errors to come to the public’s attention. Given Labour’s fragile position in the polls, any by-election outside of London is not in the party’s interests.

The Batley and Spen contest came about needlessly due to incumbent MP Tracy Brabin’s selection to run for West Yorkshire Mayor, one of Labour’s few victories at last month’s otherwise devastating local and regional elections, which also saw Hartlepool turn from red to blue after party HQ parachuted in their preferred candidate. 

That state of affairs is repeating itself in Batley & Spen, that and a whole lot more.