#ELLGE19 Ali and Begum secure strong majorities in Labour stronghold

Apsana Begum after the results were announced. Pic: Georgina Gambetta

By Georgina Gambetta and Tom McGhie

Labour’s Rushanara Ali and Apsana Begum secured strong majorities in the constituencies of Bethnal Green and Bow, and Poplar and Limehouse early this morning.

Ali won her fourth consecutive election in the constituency and increased her majority to 37,524, a 61.7% vote share. Although Begum, who succeeds longstanding Labour MP and Brexit supporter Jim Fitzpatrick, also secured a majority of 28,904, this was lower than the 2017 result. These wins were one of few highlights during an otherwise “disastrous” night for the party around the country. 

Rounds of applause greeted both candidates when their wins were announced at Capital Hall in Tower Hamlets.  Both constituencies have been Labour strongholds for decades.

Ali’ s speech was a blend of celebrating the history and diversity of the area, but stressing the uncertainty of the times.  She said: “We must redouble our efforts to fight for a fairer future…and continue to fight a damaging and destructive Brexit that will devastate communities across the country.” 

Begum’s speech praised the Poplar and Limehouse electorate for voting “to stop austerity, to eliminate child poverty, to abolish in-work poverty and stop the cruelty and injustice of universal credit.” 

Rushanara Ali with her team celebrating a win for Bethnal Green and Bow. Pic: Georgina Gambetta

Despite Ali’s and Begum’s victories, the mood in the room throughout the evening’s proceedings remained muted due to the Conservatives comfortable triumph at national level. The unease was emphasised by neither of the candidates, nor any of their supporters, speaking to the media. 

Ali said: “Although tonight has been devastating in results for our party….we will never give up the fight for social justice and equality and we will never give up the fight to build a better country that celebrates peoples talents no matter their background.” 

In response to Jeremy’s Corbyn’s announcement that he will not be standing in the next general election, Begum said: “I am so proud of the leadership of Jeremy Corbyn and to be part of an ongoing transformation within the Labour party”. After her speech, she added: “I will fight the Tories in parliament and make sure we stop them destroying our communities and increasing poverty and devastation.” 

However, the Labour leader did not garner praise from everyone; Andrew Cregan, Liberal Democrat candidate for Poplar and Limehouse told Eastlondonlines: “The picture across the country is a disaster for Labour. Corbyn has made that party unelectable and they have facilitated both Brexit and this Tory victory off the back of their own uselessness”. 

As well as being nationally triumphant, the Conservative Party held their position as the second party in both constituencies. 

Tower Hamlets Conservatives, Sheun Oke and Nick Stovold centre. Pic. Tower Hamlets Conservatives

Nick Stovold, candidate for Bethnal Green and Bow, secured 10.73% of the vote, and Sheun Oke, candidate for Poplar and Limehouse, achieved 15.84%. Although this is a reduced share compared to 2017. 

Reflecting on Boris Johnson’s win, Stovold told Eastlondonlines: “The national result is fantastic…we can move beyond Brexit and achieve things this country needs to achieve….we can finally bring the country together.” 

Oke told Eastlondonlines: “I will work with [Begum] to make this a better community. Billions of pounds are exchanged every day close by in Canary Wharf, I want to give young people better opportunities.” 

The other candidates were less than optimistic about the future under the Conservatives.  David Axe, Brexit Party candidate for Bethnal Green and Bow told Eastlondonlines: “I don’t believe what the Conservatives are putting on the table represents Brexit…this is not going to get done and dusted by the end of December, doesn’t look like it’s going to be done and dusted before 2021.” 

Josh Barbarinde, Liberal Democrat candidate for Bethnal Green and Bow, told Eastlondonlines: “We’ve seen over the last four years what they’ve done to our country. Youth violence has risen by around 80%, yet they find themselves with a majority…Over the last year youth services across the country have been cut on average by 40%…police have been cut…and schools are struggling.” 

It was a good night for the Green Party and the Liberal Democrats, who each increased their vote share in both constituencies. Shahrar Ali, the Green Party candidate for Bethnal Green and Bow, told Eastlondonlines: “Nationally we’ve clearly got hotspots…I’ll be coming back for more for the council and future elections…I’m heartened by the increase in our result.” 

Tower Hamlets Green Party. Pic: Tower Hamlets Green Party

Barbarinde, told Eastlondonlines:  “I have absolutely loved trying to represent an area which I have been based in for many years and the place where I set up my now award-winning business as a small stall in Spitalfields.” 

And yet, both spoke of how there had been a lot of negative and not totally trustworthy campaigning across this election. Barbarinde also described the need for electoral reform, so that people could “vote with their hearts.” 

For the Brexit Party, neither Catherine Cui or David Axe achieved a tangible result in what remains a largely two-party borough. 

Poplar and Limehouse: 

Candidate: Votes PercentageSwing
Apsana Begum (Labour Party)38,660 63.1 -4.2 
Sheun Oke (Conservative Party )9756 15.9 -4.2 
Andrew Creegan (Liberal Democrats)8832 14.4 +7.7 
Neil Jameson (Green Party)2159 3.5 +1.8 
Catherine Cui (Brexit Party)1493 2.4 +2.4 
Andy Irlam  (Independent)376 0.6 +0.6 

Bethnal Green and Bow:

Candidates: Votes PercentageSwing
Rushanara Ali (Labour Party) 44,05272.7 +0.9 
Nick Stovold (Conservative Party) 6,52810.8 -1.9
Josh Barbarinde (Liberal Democrats) 5,8929.7  +4.7
Shahrar Ali (Green Party) 2,5704.2 +1.7 
David Axe (Brexit Party) 1,0811.8 +1.8 
Vanessa Hudson (Animal Welfare) 4390.7 +0.7 
Turnout:60,810 Majority: 37,524 

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