The general election in Tower Hamlets

20 04 2010

The furore over politics in Tower Hamlets which I have discussed here in previous posts (here and here) is continuing into the general election campaign for the Bethnal Green and Bow constituency. Religion and politics from London, the UK, Bangladesh and other places mix in a complicated entaglement. 

One of the IFE/East london Mosque/Respect Party activists who featured in Channel 4’s dispatches programme, Abjol Miah is standing as the candidate for Respect, hoping to take over from George Galloway, who beat New Labour’s pro war candidate Oona King riding a wave of Bangladeshi anger over the Iraq War in 2005.

One of the legacies of Galloway’s victory seems to be that all the main parties are fielding British Bangladeshi candidates this time, having identified the young and Bangladeshi vote as a crucial one. Labour, the Conservatives, Respect, the Greens and Liberal Democrats are all fielding candidates of Bangladeshi origin. The Guardian has an article discussing the battle for Bethnal Green and Bow, and introducing the leading candidates, Respect’s Abjol Miah and Labour’s Rushanara Ali. Oxford educated Ali has worked for many years at the Young Foundation, and in many senses is an impressive candidate. She is a good speaker, an intellectual and has a good grasp of local and national policy debates.

Miah seems to have a greater affinity with most British Bangladeshis, especially the disillusioned, the Islamists and the Gallowayists. Does Ali have the neccessary street cred and ability to speak Bangla to win over the voters – those angry with Labour over the war and other percieved betrayals, and those who are suspicious of the banglaocracy dominating politics in the borough?

Its too tight to call, but its fascinating to watch.

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