Conservative Backbencher Esther McVey mocked the Labour Party after they secured a narrow 323 majority during the recent Batley and Spen by-election – a 7.5 percent swing away from the last election – by making reference to the previous large majority wins. Ms McVey noted the campaign was “particularly ugly” following harassment and unruly clashes among candidates, adding George Galloway may have cost the Conservatives the predicted win due to his Brexit support. Ms McVey also bit back against former Labour MP Caroline Flint for rubbing the loss in her face as they delivered subtle digs towards one another.
Speaking on GB News, Ms McVey reflected on the Batley and Spen by-election and how the campaign was one of the tensest for a long time.
She told the programme: “I think George Galloway absolutely turned the result on its head.
“The vote he went after, he got 8000, he was also a Brexiteer so it took some votes maybe from the Conservative party as well so it was all up in the air.”
Ms Flint shared her thoughts on the by-election and recalled seeing Mr Galloway on his open-top bus driving around the area.
Ms McVey noted it was after the Matt Hancock incident which saw him resign following the revelations of his affair.
Ms Flint added: “Nobody raised that on the doorstep with me.
“But you know I think people just suck that sort of thing up and then they’ll go and make the decision when they’re doing their ballot paper on those sort of things.
“I just want to say I think, Kim Leadbeater was the best candidate Labour could have for that area.
“She was born and bred there, she’s a real community person it’s authentic.
“And it was a really pretty nasty campaign, lots of sort of intimidation going on the streets towards Kim particularly.”
Ms Flint then delivered a subtle jab where she said the Conservatives “really wanted to win this” in a sly jeer to Ms McVey who picked up on the comment.
She retorted: “Well, everybody should want to win it but you’re quite right it was obviously an ugly campaign there.
“Some of the Labour leaflets led a lot to be desired when they had the meeting [Indian Prime Minister] Modi.
“I mean it was really ugly across the board, George Galloway brought in a different element.”
Labour leaflets posted throughout Batley and Spen highlighted examples of Tory Islamophobia in an attempt to win over the large Muslim population.
But many criticised the leaflets for stoking up racial hatred in the area.
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Presenter Tonya Buxton also joined in with the debate but delivered an honest assessment of the election and how some voters, like herself, were feeling.
She said: “I feel that together with what’s been going out there and during lockdown but with most people I feel I’ve lost confidence in politics.
“I’ve lost confidence in politicians, I naively thought before lockdown happened and the pandemic happened I really thought that our government had our best interests in heart.
“And I thought we were being led by people that are more intelligent than me – now I don’t believe that for a minute now.
“I think a lot of the general public has really lost confidence.”
Critics of Sir Keir Starmer said a by-election loss would have caused a leadership challenge with some activists believing he would be unable to reunite the party.
Kim Leadbeater won the election following a tough campaign that saw her and other Labour activists harassed and heckled in the street.
Ms Leadbeater is the sister of assassinated Labour MP Jo Cox who stood in the constituency before she was murdered.
Tracy Brabin had held the seat following Ms Cox’s death but stood down after she secured the role of West Yorkshire mayor.
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