Andy Burnham admits losing Batley and Spen would be ‘a real challenge’ for Labour
Labour is showing an 'identity crisis' says Emily Maitlis
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The Greater Manchester mayor, who experts believe could be a frontrunner to replace Sir Keir Starmer, rejected the notion that a loss in the on-going by-election would be the end for the Labour Party. The by-election result for the West Yorkshire constituency is seen as a litmus test for Sir Keir Starmer’s leadership over the party. At time of writing, votes are being counted after polls closed at 10pm.
When asked on BBC Question Time whether a Labour defeat in Batley and Spen would be the “final nail in the coffin” for the party, Mr Burnham rejected the idea.
He said “No, absolutely not.
“The constituency is not what you might typically call a red wall seat where there’s been a Labour majority forever.
“This is a seat which is more marginal and always has been.
“It would be serious. This is a real challenge not only for Keir Starmer and the Labour party but for the Left more broadly.”
Also speaking on the programme, Tory MP David Davis believed a poor result won’t be the end for the Labour party.
He said: “I’ve seen both parties be on their uppers, and then come back from it.”
The West Yorkshire seat has been owned by Labour since 1997, meaning a loss would put yet another dent in Labour’s Northern Red Wall.
Labour’s candidate in the by-election is Kim Leadbeater, the sister of former Batley and Spen MP Jo Cox, who was murdered in the constituency in 2016.
Mr Burnham went on to explain how the Tories have misled voters with a false narrative.
He said: “We’ve lived through a decade now where quite wealthy and privileged people on the right or even the hard-right of politics have posed as the friends of working class people.”
Mr Burnham added that Labour has “failed to counter the narrative” and warned the party has become more divided than ever.
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“It has divided people and made them fearful of each other,” he said.
“I think what the Labour party and the left more broadly around the world has got to do is bring people back together again.”
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