Wakefield by-election: Who are the candidates in this crucial seat?

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Wakefield by-election candidates when is it polls labour conservative polls nadeem ahmad Red Wall seat Boris Johnson vote confidence - Chris J. Ratcliffe/Bloomberg
Wakefield by-election candidates when is it polls labour conservative polls nadeem ahmad Red Wall seat Boris Johnson vote confidence - Chris J. Ratcliffe/Bloomberg

Boris Johnson will face another crucial test today, June 23, when a by-election is held in Wakefield.

Voters in West Yorkshire will head to the polls on Thursday after the departure of the city's previous Conservative MP, Imran Ahmad Khan.

The Conservatives will be anxious to hold on to one of many 'Red Wall' gains they made in traditional Labour territory at the last general election.

Equally, Labour will need to show they can start winning back the loyalty of scores of northern and working-class Britons who abandoned the party in 2019.

Why is there a by-election in Wakefield?

A by-election takes place in a constituency when an MP's seat in the House of Commons becomes vacant between general elections.

This can take place when someone resigns, dies, is declared bankrupt, moves to the House of Lords, or is convicted of a serious criminal offence.

In April, Imran Ahmad Khan - the MP for Wakefield from December 2019 until last month - was found guilty of sexually assaulting a 15-year-old boy.

Imran Ahmad Khan pictured arriving at Southwark Crown Court for sentencing - Stefan Rousseau/PA Wire
Imran Ahmad Khan pictured arriving at Southwark Crown Court for sentencing - Stefan Rousseau/PA Wire

On May 3, he officially quit his seat after his conviction. He was also expelled by the Conservative Party and has been jailed for 18 months.

What happened last time?

As part of Mr Johnson's 2019 general election landslide, Wakefield elected its first Conservative MP since George Hillman in 1931.

Mr Ahmad Khan defeated Mary Creagh, the Labour candidate who had been the MP for Wakefield since 2005, winning a majority of 3,358.

The Conservatives swept to a landslide victory - winning dozens of seats including Wakefield for the first time in a generation - on a pledge to 'Get Brexit Done' - Ben Stansall/Pool/AFP via Getty Images
The Conservatives swept to a landslide victory - winning dozens of seats including Wakefield for the first time in a generation - on a pledge to 'Get Brexit Done' - Ben Stansall/Pool/AFP via Getty Images

The Conservatives won 47.3 per cent of the vote, Labour 39.8 per cent, the Brexit Party 6.1 per cent and the Liberal Democrats 3.9 per cent.

But the Tories have since lost some of their national support, with Sir Keir Starmer's party currently leading the opinion polls after years in the wilderness under Jeremy Corbyn.

Who are the candidates?

Listed by surname (in alphabetical order), the candidates are as follows:

  • Nadeem Ahmed, Conservative Party

  • Akef Akbar, Independent

  • Paul Bickerdike, Christian Peoples Alliance

  • Mick Dodgson, Freedom Alliance. Real People. Real Alternative

  • Sir Archibald Stanton Earl 'Eaton, The Official Monster Raving Loony Party

  • Jayda Fransen, Independent

  • Jordan James Gaskell, UK Independence Party

  • David John Rowntree Herdson, Yorkshire Party

  • Therese Hirst, English Democrats

  • Christopher Richard Jones, Northern Independence Party

  • Simon Robert Lightwood, Labour Party

  • Jamie Luke Needle, Liberal Democrats

  • Ashley Theo Blue Routh, Green Party

  • Ashlea Simon, Britain First

  • Chris Walsh, Reform UK

Nadeem Ahmed, the Conservative candidate, has been a councillor in Wakefield since 2006 and was described by party chairman Oliver Dowden as "a strong local voice for Wakefield, helping us level up there and across the whole United Kingdom".

Mr Ahmed has backed the Boris Johnson throughout partygate and said he remains a "great asset" to the Conservatives.

Simon Lightwood, the Labour candidate, is a member of the party's national policy forum and works for the NHS. He sits on Yorkshire Labour's regional board.

Labour was accused of breaching its own rules by limiting the number of local party representatives allowed to participate in the shortlisting process, leading the entire executive committee of the local constituency party to walk out in disgust.

Labour insisted local members made the final choice on a "strong champion" for the city.

What could the result mean?

The result of the by-election will be announced in the early hours of Friday, June 24.

Depending on the outcome, Wakefield could either be a triumph or a disaster for Boris Johnson and Sir Keir Starmer alike.

A Conservative win would be a major political victory for Mr Johnson after he survived the June 6 confidence vote.

It would renew faith in his leadership across his divided parliamentary party, while also vindicating his claims voters are less "obsessive" about partygate than the media and are still happy with his Government's record.

But if the party were to lose, it would signal renewed Tory vulnerability in the 45 'Red Wall' constituencies that turned blue for the first time in a generation in 2019.

There would be questions over whether Mr Johnson can ever fully regain public trust, and about the true success of the 'levelling-up agenda' if northern voters reject the Tories.

Both Sir Keir Starmer and Boris Johnson have plenty riding on the Wakefield result - Toby Melville/PA Wire
Both Sir Keir Starmer and Boris Johnson have plenty riding on the Wakefield result - Toby Melville/PA Wire

A Labour victory would give Sir Keir confidence his party is successfully rebuilding after it fell to its worst post-war general election defeat in 2019.

It would signal voters were regaining trust in Labour policies on issues such as the economy and suggest it could win back dozens of 'Red Wall' seats at the next general election.

However, a Labour loss after a torrid few months for the Tories nationally would raise serious questions about the party's offer to the public.

It would also compound fears about a lack of major keynote policies under Sir Keir to date, and whether he is the best possible leader to take the party into the next general election.

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