As the Batley and Spen by-election approaches, polling shows that the Conservatives are on course to take the seat from Labour, after doing the same in Hartlepool last month.
Despite the best efforts of Labour’s candidate, Kim Leadbeater, the party could lose the Batley and Spen contest on 1 July, as polls show support dropping amid a hard-fought campaign.
What does the poll say?
We are set for a third shock by-election result since May, following on from Chesham and Amersham earlier this month, and Hartlepool last month.
The Tories look set to recover after the recent setback though, with Labour at risk of another shock-loss in a once relatively safe seat.
Labour’s candidate Kim Leadbeater was drafted in to fight the by-election, but despite a strong campaign seems to be falling behind.
A new poll by Survation puts the Conservatives on 47 per cent in Batley and Spen, with Labour on 41.
Here are the results of the poll:
– Ryan Stephenson, Conservative - 47%
– Kim Leadbeater, Labour - 41%
– George Galloway, Workers Party - 6%
– Tom Gordon, Liberal Democrats - 3%
– Other - 2%
Concerns expressed by many in the Labour party seem to be baring out, as the Conservative candidate, Ryan Stephenson, takes a fairly strong lead in this first poll.
Unlike the recent Hartlepool by-election though, the poll shows that smaller parties pulling voters away from Labour could be the deciding factor here.
Unlike in 2019, when the pro-Brexit vote was split between Conservatives, Brexit Party and a local independent party, now the ‘left’ vote is split.
The poll puts George Galloway’s Workers Party on 6 per cent, after the former MP and reality show contestant has waged a highly visible campaign centered around supporting Palestinian rights.
The Liberal Democrats, who have elected councillors in one of the constituency’s wards, are polling just 3 per cent.
None of the numerous smaller party candidates, including a number of far-right extremist Jayda Fransen, had enough support to be picked up in the polling.
What does the poll mean for Labour?
In a phone-poll completed by 323 people, voters of Batley and Spen were asked about the upcoming by-election, the party leaders and a number of issues.
The results will make grim reading for Keir Starmer, as they show that he is not only on course to lose in Batley and Spen, but that Boris Johnson beats him with voters there on almost every metric.
A majority of voters said they trusted Johnson over Starmer on every issue, including the NHS, and said he would make the best prime minister.
More voters also said that Johnson “best represents the interests of the North” over Starmer.
Andy Burnham for Labour leader?
While Labour does not perform well in the polling, some in the party will take consolation from Labour as a party being seen more favourably than its current leader.
And if leadership is the issue, then voters have some idea of who they would like to replace Starmer.
Asked whether they would be more likely to vote Labour if Greater Manchester mayor Andy Burnham were leader of the party, 34 per cent said yes, while 33 per cent said ‘neither more nor less’.
There has been speculation that the former Labour MP, who served in government under Tony Blair and Gordon Brown, could return to Westminster to take on the Labour leadership role.
As one of a handful of Labour figures who bucked the national trend in the recent local elections to secure an enhanced majority as mayor of Greater Manchester, Burnham could be a strong candidate to take over from Starmer.
Asked about a potential leadership bid after the local elections, Burnham told Sky News that, “in the distant future, if the party were ever to feel it needed me, well I’m here and they should get in touch”.
However, Burnham has since sought to play down this possibility, as he could not run to be leader as mayor, but would need to be elected as an MP.