Jonathan Fryer

Writer, Lecturer, Broadcaster and Liberal Democrat Politician

Posts Tagged ‘Poplar & Limehouse’

Full LibDem Slate for Tower Hamlets

Posted by jonathanfryer on Thursday, 5th April, 2018

THLDs 1Tower Hamlets Liberal Democrats are running a full slate of borough council candidates for the election on 3rd May, for the first time since 2010 (when I was the parliamentary candidate for the constituency of Poplar & Limehouse). Elaine Bagshaw is our Mayoral candidate. This time I’m standing for Council in my home ward of Mile End, along with Richard Macmillan and Tabitha Potts. As in much of the country, the local party was hit badly by the fallout from the 2010-2015 Coalition government with the Conservatives (despite the fact that several positive LibDem policies were introduced during that time, including the pupil premium, a substantial rise in the personal tax allowance and same sex marriage). However, in common with most other London borough local parties, Tower Hamlets LibDems have experienced a great surge in members (now well over 700) and keen young activists. Many of these have been motivated by the shock of the 2016 EU Referendum result (for which London as a whole did not vote Leave, Tower Hamlets markedly so) and the linked fact that under the leadership of Vince Cable the LibDems have firmly established themselves as the party of ExitFromBrexit, in sharp contrast to Theresa May’s Conservatives and Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour. That is a message that is going down well on the doorstep, not least among the thousands of (non-UK) EU citizens — many of them married to or living with Brits — who are alarmed by the threats to their situation post March 2019. Of course, EU citizens can vote in local elections (but not in national ones, unless they are from Ireland, Cyprus or Malta) and their participation in this May’s vote could have a decisive effect on the outcome. Both for them, and for UK and Commonwealth citizens resident in Britain who are not yet on the electoral register, do please register by the deadline of 17 April. It’s a quick and easy process to do online through the government website:

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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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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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