Sister of Jo Cox plans to stand in Batley and Spen by-election
Kim Leadbeater has thrown her hat into the ring to become the next MP for Batley and Spen and continue her sister's legacy.
Speaking to the Batley and Birstall News, Kim Leadbeater 45, announced she hoped to stand for Labour in the forthcoming by-election. The seat became vacant on Sunday when Labour’s Tracy Brabin, MP for the last four years, stood down after being elected the first Mayor of West Yorkshire.
Ms Brabin took over from her friend Mrs Cox, who had only been the MP for 13 months when she was shot and repeatedly stabbed by a right-wing extremist in Birstall on June 16, 2016.
Ms Leadbeater is founder of the Batley-based Jo Cox Foundation and is an ambassador for the charity. She is also chair of the off-shoot networking group More In Common.
Ms Leadbeater was awarded the MBE in the New Year Honours last December for services to social cohesion, the community in Batley and Spen and combatting loneliness during the Covid-19 pandemic.
Ms Leadbeater said the announcement of a by-election had affected her deeply and she had done a lot of soul-searching.
She added: “I’ve been moved by how many local people from across the area, many Labour Party members but others too, have been in touch asking me if I would stand.
“It has knocked me for six. I would love to represent this extraordinary, vibrant place that I have called home all my life. I am touched that so many people seem to think I would do a good job and I can promise that if they want me, I will give my all for Batley and Spen at Westminster.
“The truth is, I have never really seen myself as a political animal, but I care deeply about the area where I was born and have always lived, and where the people are second to none.
"Through all the work I have done with Jo’s foundation over the past five years I have met so many truly fantastic people. This community picked me up when I needed it most and I will be forever grateful.”
Ms Leadbeater said she understood that many people were “disillusioned and disengaged” with politics.
She added: "Everyone knows I talk a lot, but I also listen a lot. And I’ve listened to hundreds of people over these last few years.
"I’ve heard how disillusioned and disengaged they are with politics and how worried they are about the future of our towns and villages. And I’ve listened to their ideas about how we can give Batley and Spen an even brighter future.
"I won’t pretend to have all the answers, but I will speak up wherever and whenever it takes, so the voice of this constituency is heard loud and clear.
"Strengthening the community that I love and taking it forward will be a team effort but I’m ready to take a lead in that.
"I’ll be talking a lot to Labour members in the next little while - but mainly, once again, listening to what they have to say.
"And if they put their confidence in me to be their candidate, then I would be honoured to represent them and give the people of Batley and Spen the opportunity to put their trust in me."
No date has yet been set for the by-election. Labour is defending a 3,525 majority but the bookmakers immediately installed the Tories as odds-on favourites to take a seat they haven’t held since 1997.
The earliest an election could be held is mid-June but that is thought unlikely as it would clash with the fifth anniversary of Mrs Cox’s death. A suggested date is July 22.
Other names in the frame for Labour include Kirklees Council leader and Batley West councillor Shabir Pandor; Batley East councillor Habiban Zaman; and former Dewsbury MP Paula Sherriff.