Batley and Spen MP Kim Leadbeater: 'Now the hard work really begins'

It’s just a week since I arrived for the votes to be counted at the end of a hard-fought by-election, still not knowing if I was going to be the new MP for Batley and Spen or not.

Kim Leadbeater gives her acceptance speech following her victory in last week's Batley and Spen by-election
Kim Leadbeater gives her acceptance speech following her victory in last week's Batley and Spen by-election

I was proud of my campaign, which was sometimes conducted in very challenging circumstances.

But nothing can compare to the pride I felt when the result was announced and I discovered that the people of Batley and Spen had voted to put their trust in me.

I also knew at that moment that the real hard work was about to begin.

Ms Leadbeater celebrates her by-election victory with Sir Keir Starmer and Labour supporters in Cleckheaton. Photo: Getty Images

During the campaign I spent important time meeting local businesses, community groups and residents, knocking on doors and making phone calls for hours but I knew that I could only really make a difference if I was successful in getting elected.

I am very grateful that I now have the opportunity to do so.

My majority may not be the largest in history, but I mean to make good on my pledge to represent everyone across the whole of Batley and Spen, whether they voted for me or not.

When I spoke after the result was announced I said that the result was a victory for hope over division and I really meant it.

One of Ms Leadbeater's first visits was to Gomersal and Cleckheaton Football Club to meet with coaches and players following an arson attack at its base

This constituency has been through a lot in recent years and it’s sad that the by-election raised tensions and created conflicts that we didn’t ask for and certainly didn’t need.

But the circus has now left town, as we knew it would.

I know from very personal experience what a strong community we are and I am certain that we will see this once again in the coming weeks and months.

I intend to play my part in that and I really hope you’ll join me.

Together we can show the world the true face of Batley and Spen – proud of who we are, confident about our future and able to unite around a shared vision for the well-being of our families and friends, towns and villages.

I’ve been an MP for less than a week but I arrived at Westminster on Monday knowing that I had to hit the ground running.

I want to start getting things done straight away on the issues that I know from the many conversations I had during the campaign are your priorities.

Once I found my office and worked out how to use the Parliamentary IT system I took the first opportunity to raise with ministers the funding required to repair potholes in the roads and cut down on dangerous speeding.

I’ve also taken up an issue particularly close to my own heart – how we can better use the power of sport to give young people more to do and reduce anti-social behaviour.

Sadly one of my first tasks over the weekend was to visit Gomersal and Cleckheaton Football Club, which had been subjected to dreadful mindless vandalism leading to the destruction and theft of thousands of pounds worth of equipment.

It’s heart-breaking to see such a hard-working group of volunteers and local children subjected to such a pointless act – and I know there have been other similar incidents across our area in recent months.

I will always do what I can to support local clubs, groups and charities who are working hard in our community.

On Sunday I had a fairly soggy time when I joined the Keep Hecky Tidy litter pick where volunteers were giving up their time to clean up the Beck Lane area of Heckmondwike.

The rainy weather didn’t deter us and I look forward to working with similar groups across the area to not only keep our streets clean but to also look at how we can prevent them getting that way in the first place.

In my view, prevention is always better than cure.

I know my life is going to be a bit of a juggling act from now on – between Batley and Spen and London.

There’s a lot of work to be done down in Parliament, and that’s what I was elected to do; every time MPs vote they are taking decisions that affect the lives of all of us in one way or another.

Like the rest of life, Parliament is rather different at the moment because of Covid restrictions; the number of MPs allowed in the chamber is limited and remote working is still the order of the day.

Like everybody, I’m really looking forward to when we can go back to working face to face, subject of course to the best health advice at the time.

When that happens I’ll also be able to start organising a schedule of regular meetings with local people, and getting back out on the streets talking to as many people as I possibly can.

Because politics for me is all about people. You put me here and I will never forget that, and I want to be as open and accessible to you as I possibly can be.

Thank you once again for putting your trust in me and I hope to see you soon.