Election 2010: Bethnal Green and Bow MP candidates
AS the Bethnal Green and Bow candidates gear up for election day next week, there is one outcome that residents are almost guaranteed to see - the historical moment of a Bangladeshi MP taking a seat in parliament. The five major parties have each put fo
AS the Bethnal Green and Bow candidates gear up for election day next week, there is one outcome that residents are almost guaranteed to see - the historical moment of a Bangladeshi MP taking a seat in parliament.
The five major parties have each put forward a Bangladeshi candidate to fight for the Bethnal Green and Bow hot seat.
Labour's Rushanara Ali, the Tories' Zakir Khan, Lib Dem's Ajmal Masroor, Green's Farid Bakht and Respect's Abjol Miah are all hoping to win residents' votes on May 6.
But they are facing competition from United Voice's Hasib Hikmat, BNP's Jeffrey Marshall, three Independent candidates Patrick Brooks, Haji Mahmood Choudhury, Ahmed Abdul Malik and the Pirate Party of the United Kingdom candidate Alexander Van Terheyden.
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Poplar and Limehouse may have the clash of personalities but political followers will still be turning out in Bethnal Green and Bow to see who replaces Respect's George Galloway as he switches constituencies.
With a population of around 101,000, Bethnal Green and Bow is centred on the northern part Tower Hamlets, taking in much of Bethnal Green, Bow and Stepney.
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It is undoubtedly one of London's poorest constituencies with a large Bangladeshi community and a traditional Labour following.
The 2005 elections saw a 51 per cent turnout and the anti-war feeling among the area's Muslim community helped George Galloway beat Labour's Oona King by an 823 majority.
Mr Miah will be fighting for the Respect seat but Labour is confident that its party is back in the race.
The Lib Dem's will be hoping Nick Clegg's surge in popularity will help them regain the power its party lost in Tower Hamlets in 1994 and the Green party is adamant the fight for Westminster is a five-horse race.
And the Conservatives are also fighting for the title with the 1997 general election, seeing a swing of five per cent to the Tories at a time when the national trend was a landslide swing against them.
LIBERAL Democrat candidate Ajmal Masroor insists all the "hibernating support" for his party has come out again. And he has his own plans for the borough which includes getting more families into homes, working closely with the City and Canary Wharf to create more jobs for the borough's unemployed and creating more youth centres. The father-of-two pledges to work with people of all cultures and ethnicity to "bring the community together" and says he wants to see more "competency" within the council. The British imam grew up around Shadwell and was the founder of Communities in Action Enterprises, a community development group based in the borough. He also works as a youth worker in Tower Hamlets, having trained as a facilitator and mediator. He provides consultancy and support to media and various government agencies on Muslim issues and is a broadcaster and regular contributor on national radio and TV programmes.
LABOUR'S Rushanara Ali could become the party's first Bangladeshi female MP if she wins the hot seat in Westminster and pledges to be a "strong voice" for the East End community. She says she feels privileged to be standing as a candidate and wants to see further improvements to schools by working closely with parents and teachers, and wants more money invested into helping people into jobs. She pledges to restore the sense of cohesion within the borough and work for the whole community. She grew up in Tower Hamlets, having moved to the UK from Bangladesh when she was seven-years-old. She is Associate Director of the Young Foundation in Bethnal Green and also helped set up Tower Hamlets Summer University for the borough's teenagers. She is a former Governor of Tower Hamlets College and Commissioner for the London Child Poverty Commission.
CONSERVATIVE candidate Zakir Khan claims he wants to make history, not only in Tower Hamlets but in the country, by being the first Bangladeshi Tory MP. He will be following in the footsteps of Mancherjee Merwanjee Bhownaggree who was the first Conservative Asian MP when he was elected in 1896. He pledges to bring an "energetic change to the borough" and work directly with front-line workers to improve services. He also says he would provide detailed data about the crime in the area and give people the power to elect an individual to set their policing priorities. Having been brought up in Whitechapel and now living in Newham, Mr Khan has worked as a team leader and managing career advisors for Tower Hamlets College and as a manager for Kingsley Hall. He joined the Canary Wharf Group 10 years ago and six years later became Head of Community Affairs.
RESPECT leader Abjol Miah is fighting to keep his party in Westminster as George Galloway switches to Poplar and Limehouse. The father-of-four claims to offer "peace, justice and equality" while his opponents offer "privatization and war". He pledges to tackle gang culture, reduce crime and scrap student fees. And he wants to establish broad-based community boards for public safety to ensure neighbourhood policing. And he is not someone to mess with as when he was 23, he represented Britain at the 1994 World Stick Fighting Championship in the Philippines. He is a silver UK medallist in the sport, as well as a black belt in Taekwondo. As well as being a councillor since 2006 when he became leader of his party, Mr Miah has worked with teenagers as a drug prevention education officer and at the borough's Drug Action Team. He lives within the constituency.
GREEN candidate Farid Bakht who is the International Coordinator on the party's National Executive Committee insists the fight for the Westminster seat is a five-horse race. If elected he would like to revive small businesses, and invest more money in Roman Road Market. He wants to get more people educated, abolish tuition fees and encourage graduates into 'green' jobs. He insists every house that needs it should get insulation and he wants to see the borough marketed more to pull-in tourists from around the Olympics site in Stratford. He was born in Hackney, to a mother from the Basque country in Spain, and a father from Sylhet in Bangladesh. The 47-year-old who is married with a nine-year old daughter, worked in Bangladesh for three years and has been running small businesses around Whitechapel and Brick Lane for the past 12 years.
UNITED Voice candidate Hasib Hikmat wants 'zero tolerance' policing to combat knife and drugs crime and antisocial behaviour. He is concerned about the influences young people are exposed to, such as pornography and drug dealing being glamorised in some computer games. He wants to see more social workers to work with dysfunctional families. And he believes the nationalised banks should remain in the public sector and provide interest free loans to university students and provide equity loans to first-time house buyers. The 35-year-old quit his job as head of science at Bow Boys' School to run for parliament and set up the United Voice party. He is one of only two of the candidates who live within the constituency as he lives in Bethnal Green with his wife and three children,
PIRATE party candidate Alexander van Terheyden is campaigning for reform in copyright and privacy law as well as freedom of speech. The 29-year-old who works in the financial markets says the British public should not be treated as "criminals" for "enjoying music" and insists the Pirate Party is leading the way on fighting for freedom. He claims to be fighting for "common decent citizens who choose to celebrate life rather than oppress life".
BNP candidate Jeffrey Marshall wants to make changes to the way the East End is run. He pledges to reform the housing system so "genuine East Enders" have priority rather than "homeless foreigners" and wants a zero-tolerance policy on knife and gun crime. He thinks there should be a debate on the return of the death penalty for premeditated killing and pupils should be taught about preventing abortions. Born in Hackney, Mr Marshall took a degree in History & Philosophy at the University of Kent. He trained to be an English teacher and spent six years living and working in Barcelona, Madrid, Poland and Brazil. He now teaches English and trains foreign professionals in business English and language-related skills.
INDEPENDENT candidate Ahmed Malik is contesting the seat as an Independent and is using the election to draw attention to Islamophobia. The Queen Mary College trained lawyer works as an East London barrister and is also a founder of the Muslim Weekly newspaper. He said one of the reasons he was standing was because he is "disappointed that the mainstream parties are either totally silent or ignoring some extremely important issues such Islamophobic attacks on Muslims."
He also pledges to fight for housing and jobs for people in the constituency and raise awareness of the threats of climate change in Bangladesh and the plight of the Somali community.
INDEPENDENT candidate Patrick Brooks says his main reason for standing is to get support for his campaign Justice4Ben. The former manager at Sainsbury's in Whitechapel is speaking up for fellow employee Ben who took care of the store's security. Mr Brooks claims his colleague was made redundant from the store in a way that was "unfair and unjust" and he is determined to highlight his plight.
The 48-year-old, who worked for Sainsbury's for 25 years before becoming a property developer, says a vote for him is a vote for "fairness for all in Bethnal Green and Bow, and fairness for those who not only live in the community but put something back into it."
INDEPENDENT Haji Mahmood Choudhury wants to help every resident within Bethnal Green and Bow. He pledges to solve all his constituents' problems and insists he can represent them "better than anybody else". And if he cannot keep to his promises he says he will resign. He wants to help those on the waiting list and combat crime. But what really makes him angry is the war in Iraq and Afghanistan which he says is costing the country millions of pounds that would be better spent on health care and housing. The father-of-three is a chartered accountant and the former chairman of the Asian Centre in Haringey which provides services to hundreds of people in the area.