International rugby player to fight by-election for Greens

A rugby league international who has been selected to fight the Batley and Spen by-election for the Green Party says he feels “in tune with the attitudes, needs and wants” of the community.

Ross Peltier, 29, is a prop forward with Doncaster Dons and has represented the Jamaica international team nine times as well as playing for Keighley Cougars and Bradford Bulls.

Mr Peltier said: “As a professional rugby league player I have a profile of sorts in an area which holds rugby league as its beating heart.

“I feel I can bridge the gap with the working person who has been a single party voter all his life to the Green Party.”

Mr Peltier, who works in the building sector, said he lives in Cleckheaton, in the constituency, with his partner and young children.

He said: “I moved to the Cleckheaton area to raise my young family a number of years ago and loved the area since day one.

“As a working-class man who lives in the area in a humble terrace house, I feel I am like everyone else in the area and relatable to them.

“I feel I am in tune with the attitudes, needs and wants from the area through living and working shoulder to shoulder with everyday people within the community.”

Andrew Cooper, who leads the Greens on Kirklees Council, said: “He really is a local boy and a role model for so many.

A voter placing a ballot paper in the ballot box (Rui Vieira/AP)
A voter placing a ballot paper in the ballot box (Rui Vieira/AP)

“He has a passion for our area and as a Green MP would not have party bosses telling him how to vote.”

But the Greens have a lot to do to make an impact on the poll which is being as a straight race between Labour and the Tories.

In the December 2019 general election, the party received just 692 votes.

The by-election is being billed as a crucial test for Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer after his party’s defeat by the Tories in the Hartlepool by-election last month.

Labour is pinning its hopes on Kim Leadbeater, the sister of Jo Cox, who was Batley and Spen MP until her murder in Birstall, in the constituency, in 2016.

The Conservatives have chosen Leeds councillor Ryan Stephenson as their candidate.

With both Labour and the Tories closely watching the electoral maths they are both following carefully which other candidates stand.

In 2019, Paul Halloran, representing the Heavy Woollen District Independents, came third in Batley and Spen, securing more than 6,000 votes, 12% of the total.

Mr Halloran has not yet confirmed whether he is standing on July 1.

And the Yorkshire Party, which has selected local engineer Corey Robinson to fight the by-election, came third in the recent West Yorkshire mayoral election, with nearly 10% of the vote, beating the Greens and the Liberal Democrats.

Last week, former MP and veteran campaigner George Galloway also announced he is running, stating his aim was to oust Sir Keir Starmer as Labour leader.

The Lib Dems, who came fourth in 2019, have selected TV producer Jo Conchie.

The by-election was triggered after Tracy Brabin, who won the seat for Labour in 2019 with a 3,525 majority over the Conservatives, was elected as the Mayor of West Yorkshire last month.