Labour have held Batley & Spen with a majority of 323. This was despite George Galloway taking 22 per cent of the vote, about twice what I had anticipated, indicating that many Muslims (and others) had voted for him.
It is possible that he took some anti-system votes off the right leaning Heavy Woolen District Independents who polled well at the general election. His anti-woke rhetoric and social conservatism may have appealed to some of them.
Turnout was low at under 50 per cent suggesting a lack of enthusiasm on the part of Conservative voters. The Conservative share of the vote was down 1.7 per cent.
The result takes the pressure off Keir Starmer with talk of leadership challenges.
It also suggests that, despite Boris Johnson's denials, the Mike Hancock resignation and the way it was handled did have some impact on voters as the only opinion poll had put the Conservatives ahead.
Credit must go to Kim Leadbeater who was clearly an effective candidate well known in the locality.
Some prescient comments on the constituency by Jane Green (more favourable territory for Labour than Hartlepool): https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2021/jun/23/batley-spen-byelection-labour
Professor Sir John Curtice has noted on Radio 4 that it is not necessarily a turning point for Labour. Their share of the vote was down 7 per cent and the Brexit vote was lower than in Hartlepool.
The BBC Radio Leeds correspondent suggested on Radio 5 that an open letter from a group of Muslim women a few days before the election may have had some effect. They named no names, but said they wanted action not words.
The Official Monster Raving Loony Party finished ahead of eight candidates. The Heritage Party candidate got just 33 votes.