UK Batley and Spen by-election minus one day

Conservatives likely to gain a second seat at a by-election. Also covered: French regional elections and a massive stuff-up on preferential voting in New York City.


5:30pm If the expected loss had occurred, many in Labour would have been calling for Keir Starmer’s head. So Starmer and his allies will be jubilant at this result.

4:58pm Labour HOLD Batley and Spen. Vote shares were 35.3% Labour (down 7.4%), 34.4% Tory (down 1.6%) and 21.9% for the Workers’ Party’s Galloway. This result is very contrary to expectations of a Tory gain. While Galloway was expected to help the Tories by taking away from Labour, some people who may have voted Tory probably voted Galloway as he was another anti-establishment candidate. Also, the Tory lead in national polls has fallen from low double digits to high single digits. Maybe this reflects the vaccination surge for the Tories finally wearing off, plus the Matt Hancock scandal.

11:55am I need to leave soon, so I won’t be able to post the result until I get back later this afternoon. But local council by-election results look dire for Labour – you can read about them on the Britain Elects Twitter account.

11:50am Friday George Galloway stood in Batley and Spen for the Workers’ Party on a platform to the left of Labour. A tweet from a Daily Mirror correspondent says his party expects Galloway to come second, driving Labour into third.

9:15am Even though preferences were entirely optional at this NYC election, just 29.3% of all votes cast for candidates other than Adams and Garcia exhausted. That’s far less than in NSW for eg the Upper Hunter by-election, when over 60% of all minor candidates’ preferences exhausted.

9am Thursday Garcia trails Adams by almost 15,000 votes (51.1-48.9) in the corrected NYC preferential vote with over 125,000 postals still to be added that are expected to favour Garcia. Garcia edged out Wiley by just 0.1% at the second last count.

Guest post by Adrian Beaumont, who joins us from time to time to provide commentary on elections internationally. Adrian is an honorary associate at the University of Melbourne. His work on electoral matters for The Conversation can be found here, and his own website is here.

Polls for the UK Labour-held Batley and Spen by-election close at 7am AEST Friday. This seat voted 60% Leave at the Brexit referendum. The 2019 results were 42.7% Labour (down 12.7% since 2017), 36.0% Conservative (down 2.8%), 12.2% for an independent, 4.7% Lib Dem (up 2.4%) and 3.2% Brexit party. A Survation poll two weeks ago gave the Conservatives a 47-41 lead over Labour.

If the Conservatives win Batley and Spen, it would be their second gain at a by-election this term, following their early May triumph in Hartlepool. Except for 1961, when the Conservatives gained after the winning Labour candidate was disqualified, this would be the first time since 1929 that an incumbent government gained two seats at by-elections.

I believe Labour is in trouble in its seats that voted for Brexit because of education polarisation. I wrote in May for The Conversation that whites without a university education are deserting left-leaning parties in Australia, the US and the UK.

While the Conservatives have been winning in Brexit voting Labour seats, they were rebuffed at the Chesham and Amersham by-election last fortnight. The Lib Dems won 56.7% (up a massive 30.4%), the Conservatives 35.5% (down 19.9%), the Greens 3.9% (down 1.6%) and Labour a pathetic 1.6% (down 11.2%). This seat was 55% Remain.

This by-election was the 15th largest “two party” swing in UK by-elections. The Lib Dems and their Liberal predecessors have benefited in seven of the larger swings, with some others having MPs who switched parties before resigning and recontesting. However, Labour’s vote share appears to be their lowest at a by-election they contested.

UK Health Secretary Matt Hancock resigned on Saturday after pictures of him kissing his female aide were published by The Sun on Friday. Hancock’s major problem was not infidelity to his wife, but that he had advocated social distancing during COVID, but was not distancing from his aide. A national poll taken on Monday gave the Conservatives a seven point lead, down from 11 the previous week.

French regional elections and polling for 2022 presidential election

French regional elections were held in two rounds on June 20 and 27. The Guardian reported that results were disappointing for both Marine le Pen’s far-right National Rally, and incumbent president Emmanuel Macron’s centrist La République en Marche. Neither party won any regions, as the centre-left Socialists and centre-right Républicains dominated. Turnout was low, with 66% of registered voters abstaining.

The first round of the French presidential election will be held in April 2022. If no candidate wins at least 50%, a runoff between the top two is held a fortnight after the first round.

For the first round, le Pen is just ahead of Macron, by about 27% to 26%, with both well ahead of other candidates who are under 18%. In the second round, Macron is leading le Pen by about 53.5-46.5. That’s well down from Macron’s crushing 66.1-33.9 margin in 2017, though polls understated Macron’s vote then.

Preferential voting comes to New York City!

The Democratic mayoral primary for NYC occurred on June 22 using preferential voting for the first time. As NYC is heavily Democratic, the Democratic nominee is almost certain to win the November general election.

Black former policeman Eric Adams led on first preferences with 31.7%, followed by left-wing activist Maya Wiley with 22.3%, former NYC sanitation commissioner Kathryn Garcia with 19.5% and 2020 presidential candidate Andrew Yang with 11.7%.

These primary votes reflected the election night count. Over 140,000 votes were added and preferences were distributed on Tuesday (US time), and Garcia was just ahead of Wiley at the penultimate count, before losing to Adams by 51.1-48.9. The nearly 16,000 Adams margin excluded over 124,000 postal votes that are expected to favour Garcia.

But late on Tuesday, the NYC Board of Elections yanked these results. Analyst Dave Wasserman said something was wrong with the 140,000 additional votes, which had low vote shares for the four major candidates – they’re mostly test votes that hadn’t been removed. Maybe we’ll get clearer results Thursday AEST, but currently this NYC election is a massive stuff-up. This will provide ammunition for Trump’s baseless fraud claims.

I will update this article in the next two days to follow developments in NYC and Batley and Spen.

15 comments on “UK Batley and Spen by-election minus one day”

  1. The NYC interim RCV figures did include test ballot figures that should have been cleared from the system but were not.

    Why no one thought to reconcile the RCV tally report against the number of in person pre poll and Election Day votes (the only votes counted so far) prior to publication is a mystery and the NYC Board of Elections have admitted it was their fault.

    According to the New York Times the company who provided the RCV count software had previously offered to run the figures as an independent cross check but no one at the Board replied to their emails.

    But a minor saving grace is that the report is only an interim one as approx 125k absentee ballots have yet to be processed let alone tabulated.

    The Republican Primary wasn’t affected as there were only two candidates.

    This debacle is indeed already been used to rail against RCV as an election method and some people are conflating the NYC deadlines for the receipt of absentee ballots and the final certification of the results as being caused by RCV when they are the same deadlines as applied in previous elections.

  2. I hope it’s OK to post this link to the Britain Elects write up of the Batley & Spen by-election. I have no connection with the site but find it informative as a bit of an election geek.

    It describes the geography and electoral history of the constituency and may be of interest to some of your readers.

    There are also write ups of a slew of local council by-elections also taking place here on Thursday.

  3. Labour have held Batley & Spen.

    Lab: 35.3% (-7.4)
    Con: 34.4% (-1.6)
    WPGB: 21.9% (+21.9)
    LDem: 3.3% (-1.3)
    York: 2.2% (+2.2)
    UKIP: 0.4% (+0.4)
    Oth: 2.5% (+2.5)

    Source: Britain Elects (Twitter)

  4. It’s a Labour Hold.

    Labour 13,296 35.3% (down 7.4%j

    Tories 12,973 34.4% (down 1.6%)

    Workers party 8,264 21.9% (up 21.9%)

    Majority 323

    Turn out 47.61% (which is pretty good for a UK Parliamentary By-election. Chesham was 52.1% and Hartlepool 42.7%)

  5. Good to learn that Labour’s Kim Leadbeater has won the B&S ball by a nerve-jangling 323 votes. So much for the polls. Labour under Starmer got off to a choppy start, but let’s hope the sailing gets smoother from now. Galloway’s Nasty Party antics make her victory all the sweeter. He really is a sad sack. I should have had a few bob on it.


    Labour candidate Kim Leadbeater wins narrow victory in Batley and Spen byelection
    Sister of murdered MP Jo Cox holds West Yorkshire seat for party, easing pressure on leader Keir Starmer

    Labour defy the odds and win close-run Batley and Spen by-election in shock victory
    Kim Leadbeater, sister of murdered MP Jo Cox, has pulled off a shock victory in West Yorkshire in a major boost for Keir Starmer

  7. A tweet from a Daily Mirror correspondent says his party expects Galloway to come second, driving Labour into third.

    They don’t make “third” like they used to. 😛

    22% is pretty decent for a minor party, though. That one and only poll knew Galloway existed, but got his vote too low by 16% ; Labor 6% and Conservative 13% wrong in the other direction. Seat polls, eh.

    The SDP still exist, for some reason you’d need to be a true believer to understand why. Fun fact: this is not the first time they’ve been beaten by the Monster Raving Loonies. Give it up, guys.

  8. AB posted : But local council by-election results look dire for Labour – you can read about them on the Britain Elects Twitter account.

    And it is

    Writtle (Chelmsford ) result:

    CON: 50.0% (-10.7)
    LDEM: 39.9% (+0.6)
    GRN: 5.4% (+5.4)
    LAB: 4.7% (+4.7)

    Conservative HOLD.

    Looks like 10% dropped in Tory vote went to Greens and LAB. If it went Lib Dems, they could have won the seat.

  9. Ven

    Local election by-election results mean absolutely nothing when it comes to national politics in the UK.

    Just as a by-election for a town council seat in Alice Springs means nothing when it comes to ScoMo selecting let alone winning or losing the next federal Election.

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