Kim Leadbeater: Batley and Birstall MP talks about the challenges as she finds her way in the job
Juggling the needs of constituents with the demands of Westminster politics are among the “biggest challenges” of being an MP, according to Yorkshire’s newest representative.
Now six months into the job, Kim Leadbeater has shared her thoughts on having to “jump” between the concurrent demands of constituency service and national politics.
Ms Leadbeater also described the day that Conservative colleague Sir David Amess was killed at a public surgery as “the most emotional” in the job so far, having triggered memories of the murder of her own sister and predecessor, Jo Cox.
Former fitness instructor Ms Leadbeater was elected as the MP for Batley and Spen at the start of July, after her predecessor Tracy Brabin stood down to take the role of West Yorkshire Mayor.
When asked about the challenges of the job so far, she said: “I think it is the very long days and jumping around from subject to subject.
“I think that’s the biggest challenge, because you can be dealing with a very local personal problem for a constituent, and then you can find yourself in a debate on Covid regulations or Afghanistan, and I think being able to jump around from subject to subject is an ongoing challenge.
“That juggling of the constituency and the London-based stuff is a challenge.”
The death of Southend West MP Sir David in October united politicians from both sides of the House of Commons in condemnation and in mourning for their colleague of almost 40 years.
However, Ms Leadbeater is glad to see that the horror has triggered more of a wider conversation around the safety of those who serve in Parliament, or put themselves forward for other public roles.
She said: “Obviously the horrific killing of Sir David Amess was a tough day, and there were a tough few weeks following that which really reminded me very much of why I’m here and how I ended up here, but also that emotional connection with his family.
“I think that was probably the most emotional day in the job so far. Not the hardest, but certainly the most emotional.”
Ms Leadbeater’s sister served as Batley and Spen’s MP from 2015, until she was murdered in the constituency just one year later.
Reflecting now on the death of Sir David, Ms Leadbeater said the incident made her question the job and the risks involved.
“I remember exactly where I was,” she said. “I think it would probably be a moment for many people where they remember exactly where they were. It was one of those days where you question the job and the risks involved.
“One thing we have done since that time is have some serious conversations about safety and security, when we look at how we do that really important job of protecting democracy, but also protecting the people who put themselves forward for representation.”