Labour activists ‘egged and kicked’ while campaigning in Batley and Spen by-election

“The actions of these people do not represent the Batley and Spen I know,’ says West Yorkshire mayor Tracy Brabin. “We are kinder than this”.

Peter Stubley
Sunday 27 June 2021 23:49
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Labour’s Batley and Spen candidate heckled and chased on campaign trail

Labour Party activists were egged, pushed to the ground and kicked in the head while campaigning in Batley and Spen, according to the region's mayor.

Tracey Brabin, who was elected to the new role in West Yorkshire last month, said she witnessed the attack while leafletting on Sunday.

Ms Brabin said the group were "followed, verbally abused and physically assaulted" by a group of young men in the Whitaker Street area of Batley.

"The group I was with included young people and the elderly. I witnessed them being egged, pushed and forced to the ground and kicked in the head".

The alleged assault is now being investigated by West Yorkshire Police.

It follows an incident on Friday when Jo Cox’s sister Lim Leadbeater, Labour's by-election candidate in for the Batley and Spen seat, was confronted by a group of protesters.

Video footage showed a man challenging her over the situation in Kashmir and the concerns of Muslim parents about LGBT+ education in schools.

Ms Leadbeater later described feeling “intimidated” and accused fellow candidate George Galloway of laughing during the incident. She has previously suggested the former Labour MP was trying to "sow division" in the area to win votes from the Muslim community.

Holly Lynch, Labour MP for Halifax and shadow crime reduction minister, said Mr Galloway's campaign had "created a toxic environment that is suffocating democracy and drowning out the voices of local people."

She added: "There has been a series of increasingly serious and violent attacks in recent days and this is absolutely unacceptable.

"Lawless thugs are seeking to intimidate and attack those involved in the proper democratic process."

Tensions were also high over the weekend after it was reported that Tommy Robinson - real name Stephen Yaxley-Lennon - would be joining far-right candidate Jayda Fransen for a rally in the area on Saturday.

In the end Robinson did not turn up and West Yorkshire Police said a planned demonstration of around 400 people "passed off largely without incident". Three people were arrested - two for public order offences and one for possession of an offensive weapon.

Ms Brabin said: "We know why tensions are rising in our streets. Those who want to sow division are not welcome in our community.

"The actions of these people do not represent the Batley and Spen I know. We are kinder than this."

Additional reporting by Press Association

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