Jonathan Fryer

Writer, Lecturer, Broadcaster and Liberal Democrat Politician

Posts Tagged ‘Bethnal Green & Bow’

Two Feisty LibDem Women for Tower Hamlets!

Posted by jonathanfryer on Thursday, 5th February, 2015

Elaine BagshawTeena LashmoreThis evening Tower Hamlets Liberal Democrat members gathered at Oxford House in Bethnal Green to choose our two candidates for the general election in May, for the constituencies of Poplar & Limehouse (which I fought in 2010) and Bethnal Green & Bow (where Ajmal Masroor lifted the LibDems to second place last time). I’m pleased to say that both constituencies have chosen feisty women for May 2015, who will be able to strike a different note above the noise of the macho slug-fest in the borough between Labour and Mayor Lutfur Rahman’s “Tower Hamlets First”: Elaine Bahsaw (Poplar & Limehouse) and Teena Lashmore (Bethnal Green & Bow). Elaine both lives and works in Poplar & Limehouse and is well known within the Liberal Democrat party as a former Chair of Liberal Youth. Teena Lashmore works in Tower Hamlets and lives in the neighbouring inner London borough of Hackney, where she has been very active in the anti-racist group Hackney United. That has been a role model for community interaction in Britain, not least for the cooperation between the Jewish and Muslim communities (Hackney’s Cazenove ward notably has two Jewish councillors and one Muslim, all LibDems) and so her experience will be very useful in multicultural Tower Hamlets. Choosing two women candidates, including one from an ethnic minority, also means that London Liberal Democrats are starting to look more like the city where the party operates, which was an ambition I tried to promote when I was Chair of the region from 2010-2012.

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Respect Funks It

Posted by jonathanfryer on Wednesday, 15th September, 2010

The Rise and Fall of the Respect Party will make an interesting book one day and one key chapter will doubtless focus on the party’s failure to stand a candidate in the Tower Hamlets Mayoral election, for which polling is on 21 October. It was Respect which organised sufficient signatures from the borough’s electors to ensure that there was a referendum on whether to move to a directly-elected mayoral system in Tower Hamlets. Sure enough, in May — on the same day as the general and local elections — Tower Hamlets voted by a comfortable margin to do so. But Respect fared disastrously in the elections, losing the Bethnal Green & Bow seat to Labour and coming third, while in Poplar & Limehouse (which I fought for the LibDems) George Galloway did so badly he didn’t even turn up for the count. Respect also also lost all but one of its councillors. There had been speculation that George would stand as Respect’s candidate in the Mayoral election, but it has now been announced they won’t fight it at all. Instead, Respect will endorse Labour’s controversial candidate, former Council leader Lutfur Rahman — which says almost as much about him as it does about Respect’s terminal state.

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Oona King Enlivens Mayoral Race

Posted by jonathanfryer on Monday, 24th May, 2010

The contest to become next Mayor of London has suddenly become a lot more interesting with Oona King’s announcement that she intends to run for the Labour nomination. The former MP for Bethnal Green & Bow — famously ousted by George Galloway at the 2005 General Election — has obviously decided that she misses frontline politics after all, having previously seemed to rather enjoy being out of it. She’s developed something of a media presence over the past five years and generally seems far more comfortable in her political skin than she did while she was an MP. It’s about time there was a BME candidate for the London Mayoralty (two of the three LibDem contenders for the nomination in 2008 were Asian, but ex-policeman Brian Paddick won it easily). Of course, there is one big obstacle to Oona King’s getting the Labour nomination an the chance to fight against the Tory incumbent Boris Johnson: Ken Livingstone, who has made it abundantly clear that he wants to get back in charge at City Hall. Ken does have a vociferous fan-base, even if many within the Labour Party think he’s last year’s goods. Others may, of course, throw their hats in the ring imminently. The actual nomination election will run parallel to the election of the new Labour Party leader, so there’ll be a result in the autumn.

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Respect’s Burst Balloon

Posted by jonathanfryer on Saturday, 8th May, 2010

One of the stories of the general election that has got somewhat lost under the radar in all the speculation about post-election deals is the collapse of the Respect party. My earstwhile opponent in Poplar & Limehouse, George Galloway, was confidently predicting that Respect would come out of the elections with three MPs. But the actual result was zero. Zilch. Even the rather impressive Salma Yaqoob failed to make a breakthough in Birmingham. George himself came third and bottled out of coming to the election declaration. So much for all the pizazz and bombast of the Respect bus that blasted the street of our bprough for days on end. His counterpart in Bethnal Green & Bow (George’s old seat) also came third, behind the Liberal Democrats. Most striking of all, Respect managed to elect just one councillor in Tower Hamlets (the Council George said they were going to seize from Labour). Not one got elected in Newham (which is now a truly One Party State; every single councillor is Labour). Respect was behind the petition to get a directly-elected Mayor in Tower Hamlets, which will reportedly trigger an election in October this year. Will they put up George, or is he soiled goods? Will they put up a candidate at all, now their balloon has been burst?

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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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Posted by jonathanfryer on Saturday, 20th March, 2010

I spent a couple of hours this lunchtime with a lively group of Bengali youngsters from Tower Hamlets in Chrisp Street Market in my constituency of Poplar & Limehouse, collecting signatures for a petition that will be delivered to Gordon Brown, urging that more is done to ensure that people in developing countries have access to clean water. The message ‘Safe water can save a child’s life’ went down well with most passers-by — though a certain percenatge always run shy of anyone collecting signatures for anything. The action (which was mirrored by a similar operation by other young people in Whitechapel, in the neighbouring seat of Bethnal Green & Bow) was organised by Drop4Life, a ‘Beyond Boundaries’ project organised by BRAC UK, the UK arm of an organisation that was originally set up in Bangladesh in 1972 by Fazle Hasan Abed, to help the country overcome the devastation and trauma of the Bangldesh Liberation War. Subsequently, BRAC evolved into what organsiers describe as a self-financed paradigm in sustainable human development and claims to be the largest NGO in the world, employing over 100,000 people, 72 per cent of whom are women.


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