Galloway defeat in Batley and Spen hailed as ‘triumph’ over ‘toxic politics’

Jewish Labour groups welcome the result of the by-election


Jewish groups have welcomed the result of the Batley and Spen by-election, hailing Labour candidate Kim Leadbeater’s success as a “triumph for hope and decency” over the “toxic politics” of candidate George Galloway. 

Following weeks of intense and often divisive campaigning by activists on the far left and right, Ms Leadbeater defied pollsters to secure the seat formerly held by her murdered sister Jo Cox.

The new MP defeated Conservative candidate Ryan Stephenson by a narrow 323 votes.

Meanwhile Mr Galloway, whose campaign team comprised an alleged Holocaust denier and ardent anti-Israel activists, managed to rake in 8,000 votes, amounting to a 21.9 per cent vote share.

The Batley and Spen by-election saw the Israeli-Palestinian conflict once again placed under the political spotlight.

An official Labour Party leaflet distributed across the constituency highlighted Palestine, Kashmir and Islamophobia as key policy areas for Ms Leadbeater. 

Despite that, residents in Batley and Spen, which is home to a large Muslim and Pakistani population, previously told the JC  they wouldn’t vote Labour because Mr Starmer “follows the Zionist lobby” and “George Galloway speaks openly for Palestine… he will raise the issue of Palestine in Parliament”.

On Palestine, the newly elected MP promised to be a “strong national voice” in Parliament, but also clarified she would like to see a two-state solution, including a “safe and secure Israel”. 

Meanwhile, Jewish Labour voters and party members have praised Ms Leadbeater as a “fantastic candidate”. 

On Sunday members of the Jewish Labour Movement (JLM) from London, Manchester, Leeds and Stoke-on-Trent even spent the day campaigning for the new MP. 

Mike Katz, chair of JLM, told the JC: “This was a triumph for hope and decency. I’m proud that the Jewish Labour Movement was part of the tremendous Labour effort to win this seat and elect Kim Leadbeater – a fantastic local candidate who really embodies those values.”

The Jewish former MP for Stoke-on-Trent North, Ruth Smeeth, tweeted: “Completely delighted for Kim Leadbeater. She’s going to be an amazing MP for the people of Batley and Spen. Massive UK Labour team effort. Sending so much love to Holly Lynch and Shabana Mahmood.” 

Mr Galloway, who was sacked by talkRADIO over an alleged antisemitic tweet last year, has now vowed to challenge the by-election result in court.

A leaflet that appeared to come from Mr Galloway’s office stated: “They’ve sent ‘Muslim’ MPs here from around the country to do the bidding of Sir Keir Starmer – Israel’s number one supporter in the House of Commons.” 

Ms Leadbeater’s sexuality was also targeted by Galloway supporters. One voter on the ground told the JC“Labour policies here are not right, especially this Labour lady (the candidate) has spoken against Palestine and she wants to promote lesbianism. She wants the schools to adopt gay system (sic).”

But Mr Galloway’s defeat, though not crushing, was seen by some as a rejection of divisive and exploitative campaign tactics.  

“This was a triumph for hope and decency,” said Mr Katz.

“You can’t sit by when a tawdry populist like George Galloway uses his toxic politics to sow division and exploit communities.”

Following her success, Ms Leadbeater told the media: “This election has tested our community, but together we showed that hope will always triumph over division.”

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