Labour activists trying to get Jo Cox’s sister elected as an MP in her old constituency have been “pelted with eggs and kicked in the head” on the campaign trail, the local mayor has said.
West Yorkshire Mayor Tracy Brabin said she was leafleting with “colleagues, volunteers and campaigners” in Batley on Sunday when they were “followed, verbally abused and physically assaulted” by a group of young men.
“The group I was with included young people and the elderly. I witnessed them being egged, pushed and forced to the ground and kicked in the head,” she said.
West Yorkshire Police have confirmed they are investigating the incident.
A by-election was triggered when Ms Brabin became West Yorkshire mayor last month.
She took over the Batley and Spen seat for Labour after a career in acting following the death of Mrs Cox in 2016.
Commenting on the police’s response to the campaign trail incident, Ms Brabin said: “We know why tensions are rising in our streets. Those who want to sow division are not welcome in our community.
“The actions of these people do not represent the Batley and Spen I know. We are kinder than this.”
Labour MP for the nearby seat of Halifax Holly Lynch described the incident as “unacceptable” and those allegedly behind it as “lawless thugs seeking to intimidate and attack those involved in the proper democratic protest”.
It comes after Ms Leadbeater was filmed on the campaign trail being confronted by a man about the situation in Kashmir and her stance on LGBT education in schools.
The video, which was widely shared on social media, shows the candidate being shouted at and heckled.
She asks the man why he would shout at her in the street, before turning to leave and getting in a car, which is then followed by a group of people.
Ms Leadbeater claimed that one of her opponents, former MP George Galloway, who is standing for his Workers Party, was seen “laughing” nearby.
Mr Galloway described her claim as a “false statement”.
Tensions are rising high in the by-election race, which culminates with a vote on Thursday.
There are 16 candidates standing, including far-right figure Jadya Fransen of Britain First.
A rally for Ms Fransen – and a counter demonstration – was attended by more than 400 people in the constituency on Saturday.
Three arrests were made – two for public order offences and one for possession of an offensive weapon – according to West Yorkshire Police.