The sister of assassinated MP Jo Cox is considering running in the Batley and Spen by-elections.
Labor faces a huge test to hang on to the West Yorkshire constituency where Cox was killed by a far-right terrorist in June 2016. His sister, Kim Leadbeater, told friends she was considering run as a Labor candidate in what would be her. first entry into politics.
Leadbeater, 44, is an activist who lives locally and is an ambassador for the Jo Cox Foundation, which is dedicated to continuing her sister’s legacy.
Labor defends a slim majority of 3,525 votes in a seat it has held since 1997. The by-election was called after local MP Tracy Brabin was elected West Yorkshire’s first mayor on Sunday.
Labor leader Keir Starmer is under enormous pressure on the party’s performance in his former heart following a devastating defeat in the Hartlepool by-election. Losing another seat to the Conservatives would embolden its critics.
Leadbeater, leader of the More in Common Batley and Spen community volunteer group, received an MBE in New Year’s Honors in December for his work on social isolation during the Covid-19 pandemic. She is the most prominent name to emerge as a potential candidate so far.
A local Labor source said some unions were waiting to see if Leadbeater stood up before deciding which candidate to support. Another Labor figure said Leadbeater would “cut off” any attempts by rival parties to ignite a row over the suspension of the Batley High School teacher which showed a cartoon of the Prophet Muhammad, sparking days of protests in the constituency in March.
Paula Sherriff, the former Labor MP from neighbor Dewsbury, is also considering putting her name forward. She would like to return to Westminster after losing her seat in 2019.
The Labor candidate is expected to be shortlisted in the coming weeks and chosen by a vote of local members, a return to standard procedure after an outcry from some members after Paul Williams was selected to run for Hartlepool without a vote, due to instant by-election. .
A date for the by-election has yet to be set, but it is understood that July 22 has been suggested. There are discussions about holding the contest in mid-June, the first opportunity. However, that would conflict with the fifth anniversary of Cox’s murder on June 16.
Lisa Johnson, the director of external relations for the GMB union, which is seen as a key player in Labor power, had been briefed on the candidacy but said she was not interested. Salma Arif, a member of the Leeds council cabinet, was mentioned, as was Habiban Zaman, an adviser from Batley East. Dan Howard, a Labor Party press secretary who worked for Cox’s predecessor, also proposed his name.