Simon v/s Nadeem:
By-elections in
Wakefield, Tiverton
and Honiton

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LONDON: A by-election for the UK parliamentary constituency of Wakefield is due to be held on 23 June 2022. Labour’s candidate Simon Robert Lightwood is against the Conservative Nadeem Ahmed in the fray. Prominent Kashmiri leader Bashir Ratwi and other political supporters were at the back of Simon Robert Lightwood with active support of Salford MP Rebecca Long Baily. They say that he is a potential candidate and can deliver the goods for the betterment of people.

Conservative candidate Nadeem Ahmed says people can still trust the Tory party

The bye-election was triggered by the resignation, on 3 May 2022, of Member of Parliament (MP) Imran Ahmad Khan, who was elected as a Conservative at the 2019 general election and resigned following a criminal conviction for sexual assault.

Wakefield lies in the West Yorkshire region. The seat covers most of Wakefield itself (besides the Wakefield South ward), the small towns of Ossett and Horbury, and the more rural parishes of Crigglestone, Sitlington, West Bretton and Woolley. In the 2016 EU referendum, 63% of the voters who turned out voted to leave the European Union.

Labour candidate for Wakefield by-election Simon Robert Lightwood with supporters

Before Imran Ahmad Khan won the seat for the Conservatives at the 2019 general election, it had been held by the Labour Party since the 1932 Wakefield by-election, when Labour gained the seat from the Conservatives. The seat is regarded as part of the so-called “red wall”, and Labour hopes to regain the seat.

Three candidates are considered main including Nadeem Ahmed, Conservative Party, Simon Robert Lightwood, Labour Party and Akef Akbar, Independent.

Prominent Kashmiri leader Bashir Ratwi (middle) with Salford MP Rebecca Long Baily (right) during election campaign for Labour candidate Simon Robert Lightwood

Two by-elections

According to a BBC’s commentative report, voters go to the polls on Thursday 23 June in two by-elections which could provide another damaging blow to Boris Johnson’s authority.

The prime minister faces the prospect of losing two Conservative seats after the previous MPs were forced to resign because of scandals. If the Conservatives lose both, it will increase the pressure on Mr Johnson from within his own party, just a fortnight after he survived a vote of confidence in his leadership, BBC reported.

Labour candidate for Wakefield by-election Simon Robert Lightwood with supporters

In the case of Wakefield, former Conservative MP Imran Ahmad Khan stood down after being convicted of sexually assaulting a 15-year-old boy in 2008. He was jailed for 18 months.

In Tiverton and Honiton, the seat became available when Tory MP Neil Parish resigned after admitting he had watched pornography on his phone twice while in the Commons chamber.

Wakefield, in West Yorkshire, was part of Labour’s “red wall” which fell to the Conservatives in the 2019 general election. It had been a Labour seat since 1932 but the area voted Leave in the 2016 EU referendum, and the Tories overturned Labour’s 2,176-majority in 2019 with the “Get Brexit done” campaign slogan.

By contrast, Tiverton and Honiton in Devon has been a Conservative-voting area since the 1920s, although the seat boundaries have changed several times. The Tories won it with a majority of 24,239 votes in 2019. Results of the by-elections are due in the early hours of 24 June.

Thursday’s election in Wakefield is a must-win for Labour, senior frontbencher Wes Streeting has said. The shadow health secretary said that Sur Keir Starmer’s party will face serious questions if it failed to take the crucial red-wall seat back from the Tories.

“Thursday’s contest in West Yorkshire is a ‘big test’ of whether voters in key seats om the north and Midlands are ready to put their trust in Labour again, the shadow minister said.

Meanwhile, the Tory candidate Nadeem Ahmed has apologised after referring to serial killer Harold Shipman in an analogy about trusting the Tory party. Mr Ahmed told a newspaper that Khan was “one bad apple” and “we still trust GPs after Harold Shipman killed hundreds of people”.

He now admits his comments would have been offensive to Shipman’s victims.

Shipman was jailed for life in 2000 for killing 15 patients, but is thought to have murdered more than 200.

Speaking to the BBC on Monday, Mr Ahmed said: “The comments and the analogy were incorrect, and in hindsight looking back at it, they were wrong and I apologise because it will have caused offence to the victims of that named person.

“The point I was trying to make was the idea that people need to trust or should have trust in politicians.”

Nadeem Ahmed, a former teacher of 20 years, appears to remain confident however and has dismissed recent polling by JL Partners which gives Sir Keir Starmer‘s party a 20-point lead in the polls. “It’s a load of rubbish,” he told i. “It is not what I’m getting on the doorstep.”

Separate polling carried out by Survation on behalf of campaigning platform 38 Degrees has given Labour a 23-point lead over the Tories. They suggest the party’s candidate is on course to win 56 per cent of the vote, with the Tories set for just 33 per cent.

But Mr Ahmed is adamant that he is getting an overwhelmingly positive response from voters while out on the campaign trail.