Labour's Mike Wood, who won the seat in 1997, is defending a majority of 5,788 over the Conservatives. His prospects for success have been improved with the addition of Heckmondwike to the constituency since the last election in 2005.

Conservative Janice Small will be Mr Wood's main competitor, though the BNP will also look to improve on the 6.8% they won last time. Lib Dem Neil Bentley, who took 14.6% of the vote in 2005, is standing again this year.

The constituency includes Batley, Heckmondwike, Birstall, Birkenshaw, East Bierley, Liversedge and Gomersal.

The Batley and Spen seat was formed in 1983. Conservative Elizabeth Peacock was MP for the area until 1997.

At the last census 83.9% of Batley and Spen's population was white, while 14.7% were Asian. Some 70% of people in the constituency live in owner-occupied homes, with 18% in social housing and 7% in private-rented accommodation.

Batley is home to Fox's Biscuits and was the birthplace of the late singer Robert Palmer. The constituency also includes Oakwell Hall in Birstall, a stately home built in 1583.