THE BLOG

This Time I Was Elected To Jo Cox's Former Seat, The Atmosphere Was Very Different

14/06/2017 17:06 | Updated 15 June 2017
Ian Forsyth via Getty Images

Eating take away curry on a bed in a hotel room near the count, I watched the rolling news coverage sick to my stomach. I knew our brilliant Batley and Spen team had run a positive, upbeat and passionate campaign and the exit poll had brought hope of good news. But still I was nervous, if the papers were right we were headed for a Tory landslide and the seat I'd won just months ago after the murder of luminous and talented Jo Cox could be under threat.

Thoughts of all the work I'd started in my constituency going for nothing were racing through my mind. Vital issues such as standing against the proposed downgrade to our local hospital, crippling cuts to our schools and police as well as making the positive case for regeneration. Then there was parliament, questioning ministers on everything from foodbanks to Brexit, my place on the Women and Equality Select Committee and a commission on creating opportunities for working class people in the arts - an issue I'm incredibly passionate about - this fascinating world I'd stepped into could be taken away.

But then results started to pour in. Labour were winning new seats and a Tory government was no certainty. My heart started racing as my husband and I put the curry to one side and hurried to the count.

Last time I was in that cavernous space, it was the by-election. Nine fringe parties stood against me and the atmosphere was tense. My acceptance speech was heckled by far-right fanatics and it took all my determination to power through and stand my ground.

This time, the atmosphere was very different. Four constituencies were being counted. Batley and Spen, Dewsbury, Huddersfield and Colne Valley and there was excitement, energy and hope in the air. Labour looked like they'd do better than expected.

Heading to see the numbers for Batley and Spen with my calm and efficient agent Craig, I just wanted to win. Getting over the line was all that mattered. As we heard the numbers I was in shock. Nearly 29,000 for Labour against 20,000 Conservative. Others lost their deposits and I'd secured the biggest majority for Batley since 1966 with 55.5% of the vote. A resounding victory and a powerful personal mandate.

Driving back to my cottage in Hartshead with the sun on the horizon, I felt sure Jo would be proud. There have been times when I have doubted my ability to follow someone so talented and so loved but the overwhelming number of votes has given me a real confidence that my community believe in me as their advocate and MP in my own right. I can't wait to get back to work in the knowledge that my vote in parliament is worth more than ever. I will be a strong voice for our community celebrating the best of Batley and Spen. Our diverse and brilliant community who have been through so much, can now look to a future that's bright and full of hope.

Tracy Brabin is the Labour MP for Batley and Spen

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