Labour has regained control of the parliamentary constituency of Wakefield as Keir Starmer’s opposition party ousted the Conservatives from the ‘Red Wall’ seat by a majority of 4,925 votes in a by-election on Thursday.
Simon Lightwood, NHS worker and former Mary Creagh staffer, won against Tory candidate Nadeem Ahmed with Labour securing 13,166 votes compared to the Conservatives who received the backing of 8,241 residents.
Speaking after the result was announced this morning, Lightwood thanked Labour activists and said that it is “thanks to your tireless efforts that we’ve turned a page on Tory neglect and delivered a fresh start for Wakefield”.
“The people of Wakefield have spoken on behalf of the British people. They said, unreservedly, Boris Johnson your contempt for this country is no longer tolerated. Your government has no ideas, no plan to address the big issues,” he said.
“In this election, we offered a vision of Wakefield that was positive. Full of ideas, hope and aspiration, all guided by the principle that politics should be about creating a better country for us all.”
Labour: 47.9% (+8.1)
Conservatives: 30.0% (-17.3)
Independent (Akbar): 7.6% (+7.6)
Labour GAIN from Conservatives
Lightwood was selected as the Labour candidate in an internal process earlier this year that sparked controversy. The executive of the local party resigned after it claimed rules had been broken and left-wing contenders had been blocked.
In an interview with LabourList before the election on Thursday, the new Labour MP insisted that the by-election was not a referendum on Boris Johnson’s leadership or ‘partygate’ but was instead about “giving Wakefield back its voice”. Lightwood will now join the ranks of the Parliamentary Labour Party.
Voters in Wakefield went to the polls on Thursday in a by-election triggered by the conviction and resignation of disgraced former Conservative MP Imran Ahmad Khan when he was found guilty of sexually assaulting a child in 2008.
The by-election was one of two held on Thursday. Residents in Tiverton and Honiton also took part in a vote, prompted by the resignation of Conservative MP Neil Parish after he admitted watching pornography in the House of Commons.
Wakefield had been considered a Labour stronghold, having returned a Labour MP for 89 years prior to the last general election, but Labour’s Mary Creagh lost the seat as the Conservatives secured a 3,358-vote majority in 2019. It was one of 45 so-called Red Wall seats that switched from Labour to Tory in the last election.