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Labour think tank says Batley and Spen win ‘draws line’ under tricky party period

A TOP Labour think tank praised the party’s Batley and Spen by-election win and stated it was a sign of a new beginning for Labour which “draws a line” under what has been a difficult time for the left-leaning movement.

Batley and Spen win ‘draws a line’ for Labour says expert

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General Secretary of the Fabian Society Andrew Harrop told Express.co.uk the Batley and Spen by-election victory was especially noteworthy considering the odds being stacked against Labour. Andrew Harrop added the problems and fall in support in the constituency can be traced to the 2016 Brexit referendum in which a build-up of frustration “fed through” local election results. The left-wing think tank boss also attacked rival George Galloway for running a “toxic” campaign as Mr Harrop was hopeful it was the start of Labour’s clawing back of seats.

Speaking to Express.co.uk, Mr Harrop was asked what does the victory now mean for Labour and what will be the next steps for the struggling party. 

He said: “I think this is a really important result because it sort of draws a line under a really tricky period for the Labour Party.

“And a lot of the problems Labour faces are not really about individual personalities and whether Keir Starmer is doing well or badly.

“Some of the problems that we saw in the local elections and in the Hartlepool by-election, they really date back to the 2016 referendum.

Sir Keir Starmer

Sir Keir Starmer’s leadership was under threat if Labour lost the seat (Image: Getty)

Andrew Harrop

Andrew Harrop said the victory draws a line under Labour’s difficult period (Image: Express.co.uk)

“It has been gradually feeding through into different local results ever since.

“And sadly for the Labour Party some of the drift away of traditional ex-industrial towns from the Labour Party – that’s been underway for 15 years or more.”

But Mr Harrop conceded the victory may not be the start of Labour winning a general election anytime soon but was a local victory nonetheless due to the difficulties the party faced during its campaign.

He continued: “So, you know, I’m not saying that it’s going to transform everything by having won this by-election, but it does draw a line.

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Sir Keir Starmer

Kim Leadbeater won the election by a narrow majority (Image: Getty)

“And it’s particularly impressive because actually, Labour faced some really big headwind in this election.

“George Galloway’s intervention was hugely toxic and corrosive and could have split the Labour vote.

“But at the same time, Boris Johnson was being seen to have done his job in delivering the vaccine and was getting credit for that.

“He was seen to have done his job on Brexit.

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Labour Batley and Spen

Labour avoided another by-election defeat (Image: Getty)

“So for Labour to win in those conditions was actually really, really impressive.

“Even though the number the majority is quite small, actually the political importance of this, this election victory is very high.”

Mr Harrop added Labour needs to “calm down” following the victory as he says much of the left remains fractured which he believes is a natural feature of the left. 

The think tank leader urged Labour supporters, no matter where they fall on the political spectrum, to unite and put differences aside if they want to oust Boris Johnson.

Labour candidate Kim Leadbeater won the Batley and Spen by-election by a majority of 323 in a seat which had been comfortably Labour since 1997. 

Ms Leadbeater is the sister of assassinated MP Jo Cox who was the MP for Batley and Spen before her death in 2016. 

Labour praised Ms Leadbeater as being “the perfect candidate” due to her strong local ties and positive attitude following a particularly tense campaign.

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