General Election: where Tower Hamlets hustings are Wednesday and Thursday nights
PUBLISHED: 16:57 04 December 2019 | UPDATED: 09:45 12 December 2019
Final battle lines have been drawn up as 12 wannnabe MP candidates fight it out in the East End tonight and tomorrow in the last parliamentary hustings a week before the December 12 general election.
Six candidates battling to be MP for Poplar and Limehouse, which includes the Isle of Dogs, meet at tonight's hustings (Wednesday) staged at 7pm at St Luke's Millwall Church.
Another six draw swards at the neighbouring Bethnal Green and Bow constituency tomorrow evening (Thursday) at the Metropolitan University's Cass art school in Whitechapel.
The two Labour-held constituencies, both in the 'remain' camp in the 2016 Brexit referendum, are already scarred by controversy since the last polls in 2017.
Anti-Semitism reared its head during the 2018 local elections in the Isle of Dogs against a Conservative councillor with tweets from left-wing Momentum supporters who have plagued Labour's rank-and-file.
The Liberal Democrats have been pushing their anti-Brexit bandwagon with party leaders targeting the East End, first Sir Vince Cable last year holding the party conference at Canary Wharf, a business district which has seen a slow exodus of bank services and EU organisations, and lately Jo Swinson visiting the Crisis headquarters in Whitechapel last week promising to scrap the Vagrancy Act to tackle rough sleeping.
Labour has also been campaigning to end homelessness, pressing the Conservative government for more funds to expand social housing to alleviate Tower Hamlets' waiting list with 19,000 families on it.
Labour is split on Brexit, like its national party, with its former East End MPs from last time round being polls apart on whether we stay in the EU or quit. Both constituencies are strongly remain.
Bethnal Green and & Bow's last MP campaigned at Westminster against Brexit and joined the picket when the prime minister unlawfully suspended Parliament.
But the Poplar and Limehouse MP went against the constituency grain and supported the defeated Tory Brexit bill, before stepping down last month after 22 years as its man at Westminster.
There has been a battle within Labour for a candidate to replace him, which ended in mayhem at their selection meeting in October with two members of Momentum going head-to-head for the coveted role.
'Remain' candidates in both constituencies face challenges on their 'home turf' from two Brexit party runners.
The NHS also plays a big part in the run-up to the polls with East End GPs and hospital doctors joining long-running campaigns to stop privatisation creeping into public health care, in an area with some of the country's highest rates of chronic illness and cancer.
Poverty is another big issue, with Tower Hamlets having one of the highest levels of child deprivation in London.
Malpractice in public office is never far from the campaign trail, with one candidate on an anti-corruption ticket after his success in 2015 bringing down the corrupt Lutfur Rahman regime at the town hall.
Meanwhile, the Greens hope to make a splash in the East End which has some of London's worst air pollution, which also saw mass climate demos in the summer which blocked the Whitechapel Road.
Tonight's Poplar & Limehouse hustings staged by the Isle of Dogs Neighbourhood Forum is at 7pm at St Luke's Millwall Church in Alpha Grove.
Candidates facing questions from the audience are Apsana Begum (Lab), Andrew Cregan (Lib Dem), Catherine Cui (Brexit), Andy Erlam (anti corruption), Neil Jameson (Green) and Sheun Oke (Con).
Thursday night's Bethnal Green & Bow hustings at the Metropolitan University starts 6.30pm at the Cass Building in Goldstone Street, off Whitechapel High Street, while next Monday's hustings at Limehouse Basin Crusing Association's centre in Northey Street, off Narrow Street, is at 7pm.
Candidates facing questions from the audience are Mohammad Ali (Green), Rushanara Ali (Lab), David Axe (Brexit), Joshua Babarinde (Lib Dem), Vanessa Hudson (Animal Welfare) and Nicholas Strovold (Con).