Whoever wins at Batley and Spen, a divided community awaits

Whoever wins at Batley and Spen, a divided community awaits

In this constituency nestled in the West Yorkshire hills, tensions are running high again.

“It’s like a battlefield,” described one voter. “Everything gets so nasty and toxic when there is an election,” he added.

Westminster’s eyes will fall on a group of towns of Batley and Spen on Thursday, as they go to the polls for the fifth time in just six years.

Jo Cox was murdered in 2016

Since the assassination of MP Jo Cox by a far-right terrorist, this area has not recovered and community divisions are more visible than ever.

Simon Thirkill says he’s Batley through and through, he’s hurt by the division of this election.

Speaking to Sky News, he said: “It’s upsetting and heartbreaking that people can come in and stir things up so quickly.

“Batley is normally a strong constituency where people come together and talk about issues, but people have seen us as an easy target over the past few years and it’s an easy place to divide us.

“We’re still coming to terms with what happened to Jo Cox here five years ago, it’s really hard to put into words how all this hate and anger is making us feel now. “

Last week, in the midst of an election campaign, the Labor candidate was aggressively challenged by a man who was not from the region.

Simon Thirkill said it was ‘heartbreaking that people could come in and stir things up so quickly’

And on weekends, people ask were pelted with eggs and assaulted.

West Yorkshire Police said they recorded four offenses in connection with the attack and posted a photo of a man they wanted to speak to.

The political divide has been driven by the fact that 16 candidates are running, including George Galloway, a man who has campaigned several times within the Muslim community.

He has a lot of support for Batley and his involvement could divide the Labor vote and give the Tories victory for the first time in 24 years.

Taf Hussain, who owns a bed manufacturing company and is a long-time Labor voter, is now backing Mr Galloway because he is fed up with Labor leadership.

“I have no way of supporting Keir Starmer,” he said.

Taf Hussein said Labor “did not prioritize people in this region”

“Labor had plenty of opportunities to make things better at Batley and Spen and they didn’t. For years they have not put the people of this region first and people like me who live and work here feel hurt by their lack of commitment. “

When asked if he supported acts of aggression and attacks during the campaign, Mr Hussain told Sky News: ‘It is totally wrong that this election campaign has become disagreeable, but it has not. nothing to do with George Galloway, it’s people on the outside who are against Labor and the way they did it. “

There is no doubt that the tensions have increased in this race. Some people have called the campaign toxic, but on Thursday they will have to decide and for whoever wins, a divided community awaits.

Tanisha Bramwell is a community worker. Through the Bradford Road Food Bank, she met many people who were disheartened by the lack of unity in Batley.

Tanisha Bramwell
“Whoever the new MP is, he must work hard to bring this community together,” said Tanisha Bramwell

“This area just needs to be united again,” she said.

“There is a lot of good in Batley, the people here work together and there are a lot of positives, but at times like this the negatives are so prevalent that it’s hard to feel optimistic.

“Whoever the new MP is, he has to work hard to bring this community together. “


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