One of the candidates who stood in the Batley and Spen by-election last week is preparing to challenge the result of the election.
George Galloway, the former Labour Party MP and current candidate for the Workers Party, is planning to start a legal challenge against the by-election result.
His challenge is premised on three issues: firstly, the lack of a recount despite a small margin of victory, the removal of his election posters before the election by the Labour Council and defamatory allegations against him and his party.
In what the Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer called a “fantastic result”, the Labour Party held the seat despite a Tory surge in votes. The Labour Party candidate Kim Leadbeater beat the nearest Tory candidate by just 323 votes. The Tory candidate achieved 12,973 votes, which amounted to 34.4% of the vote compared to Labour’s 35.3% of the vote.
In comparison, Mr Galloway’s Workers Party received 21.9% of the vote share with 8,264 votes. This put his party third in the final tally.
Nevertheless, in a video on Mr Galloway’s YouTube channel, Mr Galloway vowed to bring up a legal challenge to contest the result of the election.
In the video, he said:
“The result of this election cannot stand and we will take whatever legal measures are necessary to have that result set aside. There are multiple reasons, not all of which I’ll have time to go into now in detail, but the tin hat was put on the banana republic that has been called this parliamentary by-election by the Returning Officer’s refusal to grant a recount when the margin of victory was less than one percent.”
He continued by saying that it was reasonable to grant a recount in this situation because there were “not even enough chairs for the people in the count to sit off and not even a coffee after 4am”.
He went on to claim that there had been “egregious and serious election-altering” by “the banana republic that is the Kirklees Labour-controlled Council”.
He said that the decision three days before polling day to “remove virtually all of our posters from the lampposts throughout the constituency, incurring a significant public expense in a Council that claims to be too cash-strapped to fill in the potholes, the size of which is such that you could lie down and sleep in them. Coincidentally or not, on the very day that Kirklees Council began taking down our posters, Labour issued a leaflet claiming that our campaign was running out of steam.”
Mr Galloway called this claim a “significant part” of the legal action that he was taking.
However, the “most egregious” issue according to Mr Galloway was the “multiple false statements” made by the Labour candidate Ms Leadbeater, that when she was harassed outside the Al-Medina mosque “I stood laughing on the other side of the road”. He corrected the account by saying: “I was never on the other side of the road, I was on the same side of the road as the Labour was. I was a hundred yards away and not laughing.” He also said that this statement from the Labour candidate “turned the tide” of the election campaign.
Mr Galloway had said previously that had Labour not finished third in this by-election, he would eat his hat.