As I write this the by-election in Batley and Spen, where I live, is taking place but I shall not publish this post until the polls close. I fear that if the Conservatives take the seat this will be regraded as an endorsement of the Johnson Government, the most incompetent and dishonest of my lifetime at least, and probably ever. So I do not want to publish anything that contd be used as ammunition to hamper Labour's holding on to the seat.
However I believe the circumstances that have led to the by-election have involved an outrageous abuse of our democratic system, first by the former Labour MP, Tracy Brabin, and then by the Labour Party itself.
M/s Brabin was chosen to inherit" the seat in 2016, unopposed by the major parties, after the murder of the existing MP, Jo Cox. She held the seat in the General Election in December 2019 with a majority of some 3 000. I have not kept any of her election literature but I'm sure she promised us that, if elected, she would devote her entire thoughts and energies to the welfare of us residents of Batley and Spen, leaving us to assume that this would be for the entire parliament, and probably beyond.
However, less than 15 months later Ms Brabin decided she would prefer another post, the Mayor of West Yorkshire. One Labour source suggests that her motive in doing so was that she was
miffed at not being retained on the Labour front bench as shadow spokesperson for the
Arts. She made this choice knowing full well that if she were elected she would have to to resign as our MP, as the rules state that both posts can not be held by one and the same person.
In selecting M/s Brabin as their candidate for the election of West Yorkshire Mayor the regional Labour Party, or whoever is responsible, also showed how lightly they regard the promises made by their candidates in elections. They knew full well that if she succeeded in the mayoral election that would triger a by-election.
Surely the West Yorkshire Labour party is not so devoid of talent that there is no one else capable of being mayor (which is in any case a pots with very few powers).
According to this website
the average cost to the public purse of a by-election is around a quarter of a million pounds. Whether this has to be paid by Kirklees, our local authority which runs the election, or is paid by the Treasury I don't know, but it is a lot of public money. The precise figure is £239 529 and was calculated in 2014, so is probably somewhat over a quarter of a million now. Just over half of it is for the conduct of the poll (polling stations, postal votes,the count) and the rest is for the Freepost to which all candidates are entitled. With 16 candidates in this election, that proportion is probably more than half.
That is a great deal of public money to be squandered just to facilitate a career move for Tracy Brabin. However, if she were to contribute the excess of her mayoral salary of £105 000 a year over her MP's salary of £81 932 she could pay it off in 10 years or so..
Peanuts i know compared with the public money flung around by the Conservatives to their cronies, but still an abuse.