Victory for The Labour Movement
The results in Batley & Spen by-election has come in, with Labour clinging on to the seat by just 323 votes.
Beleaguered Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer, whose favourability ratings have tumbled lower and lower over the last few months, hailed it as “a fantastic result” despite Labour losing seven and a half percent of the vote since 2019 and squeaking by with a lead of less than 1% – in a seat they’ve held at every election since 1997.
George Galloway, who was expected to hurt Labour’s chances, appears to have picked up significant support from both sides of the aisle with a pro-Brexit and anti-woke message, securing 22% of the vote against expert predictions.
The Tory campaign, meanwhile, was marked by quiet complacency – perhaps buoyed by an opinion poll two weeks ago which suggested the Tories would win the seat by six points. Their disadvantage were that Hanky Panky Hancock and Boris dithering and delaying opening back up the Country.
And even in victory, Labour managed to find a way for simmering discontent between the party’s extreme and moderate factions to burst into the public realm. New Labour supremo, Peter Mandelson accused Diane Abbott and other Corbynite apparatchiks of “conspiring” against the feeble Starmer.
Mandelson’s comments followed whirlwind rumours Angela Rayner, who has been embraced by the Corbyn left, was preparing to usurp the Labour leader.
For her part, Abbott declared a “victory for the Labour movement” and urged Starmer not to abandon “the policies in 2017 and 2019 that were so popular”.
So popular they buried the party.