Jonathan Fryer

Writer, Lecturer, Broadcaster and Liberal Democrat Politician

Archive for May 6th, 2010

Tower Hamlets Polling Day

Posted by jonathanfryer on Thursday, 6th May, 2010

Elections in Tower Hamlets are quite unlike those in most of the rest of Britain — and I don’t just mean the apparent prevalence of voting fraud, which marred the 2006 local elections and has come back to haunt us all now, with several Labour candidates and activists having to defend themselves against accusations. The biggest difference between elections in this borough and elsewhere — even in London — is that instead of having three (usually elderly) lady and gentleman ‘tellers’ seated outside the entrance of the polling station asking for voters’ numbers and wearing respectively red, blue and yellow rosettes, here in Tower Hamlets bands of supporters of the four main parties (Lab, Respect, Con, LibDem) stand near the polling stations flaunting their party colours and handing out leaflets to the people going in. By law (or local arrangement with the police) they must stay 50 yards away from the entrance itelf, so as not to impede voters’ entry or to appear intimidiating. So far, so good today; everything has been going peacefully and the turnout has been brisk. Let’s hope things stay that way. The turnout is traditionally higher among voters of Bangladeshi origin than among the indigienous white EastEnders, which used to be good news for Labour. But these days, Laboiur cannot take a Bengali block vote for granted. On the contrary, all four contending teams in both my seat of Poplar & Limehouse and neighbouring Bethnal Green & Bow have large numbers of Bengali candidates and helpers.

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