The outcome of Batley & Spen is still unpredictable. The Tories’ chances of victory will become much clearer when local independent heavyweight Paul Halloran makes his mind up about whether or not to stand; much like the Reform Party in Hartlepool, the Tories need to win over a sizable chunk of Halloran’s 2019 12% vote share to take the seat. On his Facebook page, Halloran claims “I have been approached by 2 national parties (not the Conservatives) & 1 regional party” – Guido now hears multiple rumours that he is having serious conversations with Tice’s Reform Party. It’d be an interesting move should he be their candidate – would it help or hinder his name recognition? Would local voters thinking the ‘local issues’ man was turning his eyes towards the national horizon?
Guido is told the Reform Party is in no rush to select their candidate, and will not hurry up until Labour moves the writ for the by-election. In the meantime, they’re focusing on Chesham & Amersham.
Word also reaches Guido from local Tory sources that Labour’s latest by-election stitch-up isn’t going down well. Journalists in the area were out filming ordinary voters for vox pops this week, and Labour’s selection of Jo Cox’s sister is eliciting plenty of responses along the line of it being a “cynical” and “desperate” move. Even if Paul Halloran does stand, the Tories may still pick up plenty of his voters. It sounds like more than a few on the doorstep are admitting their frustration at accidentally letting Tracy Brabin in in 2019…
Robert Courts (Con) – 17,313 (45.02%)
Liz Leffman (Lib Dem) – 11,611 (30.19%)
Duncan Enright (Lab) – 5,765 (14.99%)
Larry Sanders (Green) – 1,363 (3.54%)
Dickie Bird (UKIP) – 1,354 (3.52%)
Easy Tory hold though a big swing to the LibDems, very bad result for UKIP.
Batley and Spen
Tracy Brabin (Lab) – 17,506 (85.84%)
Therese Hirst (Eng Dem) – 969 (4.75%)
David Furness (BNP) – 548 (2.69%)
Garry Kitchin (Ind) – 517 (2.54%)
Labour uncontested in Batley and Spen.