Kim Leadbeater MP: Getting sport, exercise and health into politics

The new session of Parliament kicked off this month with the Queen’s Speech – sadly without Her Majesty – although up here in Yorkshire I suspect many people are probably more interested in the end of the football season

By Jane Chippindale
Wednesday, 25th May 2022, 10:13 am
Updated Wednesday, 25th May 2022, 10:15 am

Kim Leadbeater MP writes: Leeds stayed up in the Premier League and, depending on what happens at Wembley on Sunday, Huddersfield Town may be joining them. Hopefully good news all round!

I know some people think we should keep politics out of sport, but I’m very interested in getting sport into politics. Not just sport, but health and fitness generally. It’s a crucial part of creating a healthier, happier country and tackling a wide range of issues from loneliness and social isolation to mental health and illnesses like heart disease and diabetes.

So over the past few weeks I’ve been supporting a range of sports and fitness events, including the Training Cave Boxing Gym in Birstall, Oakwell Hall Parkrun, Heckmondwike Cycle Speedway, and a brilliant match at the Batley Bulldogs Fox’s Biscuits Stadium between Colostomy UK and the British Asian Rugby Association. And I was at Headingley to discuss Yorkshire Cricket’s efforts to tackle racism.

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KEEPING FIT: A parkrun is a great way to exercise in the fresh air. Photo: Jake Oakley

I enjoyed the Gomersal May Fayre at the Wheatsheaf pub, Roberttown in Bloom, had lots of fun at Hunsworth Scouts Gala, and bought some beautiful things at the brilliant first Heckmondwike Market.

I had a lovely time at the Batley Butterfly House coffee morning, and enjoyed preparing pizza with the kids at the Windy Bank Community Centre and taking part in the Grassroots healthy cooking and eating session at Batley Community Centre.

I’m very aware that for many people, the cost of living crisis and escalating fuel bills in particular are making day-to-day life really tough. I’ve spoken up about this at Westminster and highlighted the cases of local people who have told me that they worry about running out of money before pay day. Until we get the economy growing and working for people on lower and middle incomes, we will struggle to improve everyone’s health and well-being.

I feel that there are big issues around the whole direction our country is going in and I will continue to speak up on them on behalf of my constituents.

I’ve been discussing some of the challenges we face in different ways this month. In the Jo Cox Memorial Lecture in Cambridge my parliamentary friend and colleague Baroness Sayeeda Warsi looked at how we can avoid letting so-called ‘culture wars’ distract us from getting the policies right on the issues of today. And I presented a ‘Dispatches’ TV programme on Channel Four on Monday night talking about how we can keep not just MPs but our society and democracy safe from threats and intimidation.

These serious problems are not going to be solved quickly or easily, but I remain a very optimistic person. I believe a strong sense of community is fundamental when people are under pressure and that’s something I will always fight to retain here in Batley and Spen. And there are some brilliant events coming up that we can celebrate with family and friends including the Great Get Together weekend at the end of June and before that the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee celebrations. I am delighted to see so much taking place across the whole of Batley and Spen.