GEORGE Galloway has been accused of stirring up a “toxic” atmosphere in a key English by-election after activists were pelted with eggs and allegedly kicked in the head.

The contest was triggered when the region’s former Labour MP, Tracy Brabin, was elected West Yorkshire mayor.

She is now campaigning for Kim Leadbeater, whose sister Jo Cox was murdered in the constituency in 2016, to replace her as MP.

The ballot box race is seen as a straight contest between Labour and the Tories, with pressure mounting on Keir Starmer to hold the seat.

However, former MP Galloway is also standing for his Workers Party in the area and has taken flak after Labour campaigners were attacked.

Brabin said she was leafleting with "colleagues, volunteers, campaigners" in the Whitaker Street area of Batley on Sunday when they "were followed, verbally abused and physically assaulted by a group of young men".

The mayor said: "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".

West Yorkshire Police confirmed that it was investigating, and Brabin – who also holds the police and crime commissioner responsibility for the region – praised officers for their swift response.

But she added: "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 Halifax , Holly Lynch, commented: "There has been a series of increasingly serious and violent attacks in recent days and this is absolutely unacceptable.

"Lawless thugs are seeking to intimidate and attack those involved in the proper democratic process."

She added: "George Galloway's campaign has created a toxic environment that is suffocating democracy and drowning out the voices of local people."

Galloway has rejected any suggestions of wrongdoing on behalf of his campaign.

The National: Keir Starmer and Jo Cox's sister Kim Leadbeater and on the campaign trail in Batley and SpenKeir Starmer and Jo Cox's sister Kim Leadbeater and on the campaign trail in Batley and Spen

READ MORE: Keir Starmer slams ‘abuse’ of Labour Batley and Spen by-election candidate

It comes after Labour leader Starmer condemned as "disgraceful" the abuse Labour candidate Leadbeater faced while campaigning on Friday.

Leadbeater was confronted by a man who challenged her over the situation in Kashmir and her stance on LGBT+ education in schools amid what he said were concerns from Muslim parents.

But in a video that circulated online, Leadbeater was seen to ask the man not to shout at her, before turning away and being pursued and heckled by a group.

In the video, he raises his voice at Leadbeater, who responds by repeatedly asking why he would shout at her in the street.

Leadbeater then leaves and is pursued by a group to a car.

She later alleged that opponent and Galloway had been "laughing" nearby.

Galloway said it was a "false statement" and, asked whether he would condemn the behaviour, he replied: "Absolutely."

He added: “Obviously you’re going to get a bit of division. It’s important that it’s kept in the proper limits, however, that’s what we try to do. That’s the instructions everyone has.”

Tensions have been rising in the race – where voters go to the polls on Thursday – which has a total of 16 candidates but is seen as a two-party battle between Labour and the Conservatives.

Stephen Yaxley-Lennon – also known as Tommy Robinson - was reported to be visiting the seat for a rally on Saturday, prompting counter-demonstrations.

But Yaxley-Lennon did not turn up and West Yorkshire Police said that despite around 400 people gathering, demonstrations passed mostly without incident.

A total of three arrests were made – two for public order offences and a man was also arrested for possession of an offensive weapon.

Officers also assisted two people who are believed to have suffered medical episodes.

Assistant Chief Constable Scott Bisset, who led the policing operation, said: "Our overall aim was to ensure that the demonstrations remained peaceful and were effectively managed, so that the wider public were able to go about their business unaffected."