GARRY KITCHIN LETTER: Sad that by-election was a one-sided affair

I am writing to thank the people who voted for me in last week's by-election.

Friday, 4th November 2016, 8:46 am
Updated Wednesday, 16th November 2016, 3:53 pm
Batley and Spen MP Tracy Brabin

The final result was much as expected. That is a Labour win with other candidates failing to retain their deposits.

The vast resources that Labour poured into the contest simply swamped all other considerations.

I regret the one-sided nature of the by-election.

It was quite clear from the start that the contest was portrayed as Labour unity and hope set against fringe and extreme candidates with an agenda of hate.

While there were some candidates with divisive messages, at least a third of Labour’s nine rivals could not be classified like this fairly.

There was a very little mainstream attempt to correct this misconception.

BBC’s Len Tingle wrote the following about the result: “Labour party campaign managers had set themselves the twin objectives of ensuring a big turnout and that the nine candidates who put their names on the ballot paper from tiny fringe parties or standing as independents should be so badly supported they would lose their deposits.”

This demonstrates that Labour set out with the intention of not wanting an open contest where ideas were debated, including refusing a hustings with any candidates.

Instead, they created a campaign of Labour unity versus the hate and division of other candidates, a message the media were more than happy to pick up and run with.

They wanted to steamroll over any campaign messaging that wasn’t their own, and kill the democratic process.

It is sad that our democratic values were reduced to this.

For those who believe in an open democratic process, they were short-changed.

In the end most non-Labour voters did not even vote.

Tracy Brabin’s vote was less than 23 per cent of the electorate of Batley and Spen.

Given Tracy stood on a mandate of unity, asking for the votes of Conservative, Lib Dem, UKIP and Green supporters, I hope that she does not go to Westminster and simply support the Parliamentary Labour Party tribally in the lobbies.

She owes it to those who voted for her under these unusual circumstances to be more than Labour lobby fodder.

To act as an ordinary Labour MP under the circumstances of her election would be to go back on the mandate she was elected on.

Garry Kitchin, Independent Candidate during the Batley and Spen by-election