Batley and Spen by-election: far-right candidates lose deposits, win less than 2% of the vote and “sink without a trace”

Far-right candidates “sunk without a trace” in the Batley and Spen by-elections, losing their deposits and winning just 1.4% of the combined vote.

Five far-right and nationalist groups contested the seat where former MP Jo Cox was assassinated by a neo-Nazi in 2016.

The by-election acted as a lightning rod for fringe figures seeking to gain exposure, mainly by capitalizing on the Batley Grammar School comic.

Their campaign sparked counter-protests from anti-racist groups, while actor-turned-activist Laurence Fox staged a “free speech” rally in the city.

The five candidates won a combined total of 538 votes – 1.4% – in the race won by Ms Cox’s sister, new Labor MP Kim Leadbeater.

The worst result was Susan Laird of the new populist Heritage party, with 33 votes, followed by former British deputy leader Jayda Fransen, with 50.

Anne Marie Waters, leader of the far-right movement For Britain, got 97 votes, while candidate Ukip Jack Thomson got 151 and England’s Democrat Therese Hirst got 207.

Election rules mean that all candidates must pay a deposit of £ 500, which is returned if they receive at least 5 percent of the vote. The results mean that every far-right candidate has lost their money.

The vote was the culmination of weeks of divisive campaigning in a seat where its sitting MP was assassinated by a neo-Nazi almost exactly five years ago.

Far-right candidates have not attempted to use Ms Cox’s death, or acknowledge it in any way, in their campaign materials.

Her husband, Brendan Cox, believes it was a “deliberate omission” to avoid damaging criticism.

“The reality is that these far right groups have sunk without a trace,” he said. The independent.

“These are all individuals on their own little ego journeys. None of them have anything resembling a movement or political force behind them.

Floral tributes and messages are left outside Batley Town Hall ahead of a public event to celebrate the life of Labor MP Jo Cox on June 22, 2016

(Ian Forsyth / Getty Images)

“The fact that there are nearly half a dozen of them is an indicator of their weakness and irrelevance, certainly not of their popularity or prestige.”

The range of candidates was evidence of the divide in British right-wing movements in recent years.

Fransen, the former deputy leader of Britain First, appeared as an independent on the ballot because her group “British Freedom Party” was not officially registered.

Waters was running for the head of the minor extremist political party For Britain, which she founded after losing Ukip’s leadership election in 2017.

Ukip himself has swung to the right in an identity crisis following the EU referendum and Nigel Farage’s resignation to form the Brexit Party, and now runs on the slogan ‘Save the Great- Brittany “.

Another right-wing party contesting Batley was the little-known Heritage Party, which was formed last year by former UKip Assembly member from London, David Kurten.

England’s Democratic Nationalists, founded by former Conservative Party member Robin Tilbrook, also fielded a candidate.

The five far-right and nationalist candidates argued over the dissemination of cartoons depicting the Prophet Muhammad at the Batley Grammar School, at the heart of their campaign.

In a campaign video posted by For Britain, Waters claimed that the protests and threats against the teacher involved were evidence of “Muslim domination”.

(Getty Images)

“In 21st century Britain we are under Sharia law,” she added, urging people to “wake up and fight it”.

One of his campaign posters used, without caption or context, a 2014 photo of a member of the banned Islamist network al-Muhajiroun of Anjem Choudary holding a sign saying: “Muslims reject democracy.”

The poster called on voters to “stand up to Sharia law in Batley and Spen”.

Frasen’s posters claimed “True Patriots Vote Jayda” and carried the slogan “Keep Batley British”.

The activist, who was convicted of harassment aggravated by religion, claimed to be “representing the British, Christians, Batleys and Spen” and his “forgotten community of indigenous peoples”.

Fransen attempted to use Christian iconography in his campaign materials, prompting a rebuke from the Bishop of Leeds after a photo of a local church appeared on a leaflet without permission.

Rev. Nick Baines said: “The Christian gospel rejects the association of the cross and the church with Jayda Fransen’s political statement.”

Ukip candidate Mr Thomson said the Batley Grammar School row was one of his “main campaign points”.

His campaign materials included pledges to “save our statues”, “kick out all foreign criminals” and “fund the BBC”.

Heritage Party candidate Ms Laird had campaign points, including ending coronavirus lockdowns, defending “traditional family values” and stopping “Black Lives Matter and LGBT propaganda in schools”.

Thérèse Hirst, of the English Democrats, told the Yorkshire Post she came forward because Labor had “abandoned us to awaken extreme left ideology and had a deep aversion to England and the English”.

One of her campaign leaflets denounced “globalism” and said she would “control the borders” and support the “English NHS” if elected.

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