diamond geezer

 Tuesday, June 11, 2024

All the candidates for the upcoming General Election are now in place, so I thought I'd have a look to see who mine are.

I have a new constituency this year, thanks to the Conservatives' decade-long quest to redraw the electoral map. Constituencies now have approximately equal electorates, which is terrible news for Wales (which is losing eight MPs) and good news for London (which is gaining two). Tower Hamlets and Newham are two of the fastest growing areas in the country so can now support five constituencies between them, not the previous four. And the extra constituency being shoehorned across the river Lea is my new constituency, Stratford and Bow.

Bow has a habit of being switched between constituencies as needs must. In 1950 Bow was lumped in with Poplar and the Isle of Dogs as part of the Poplar constituency. In 1974 Bow was coupled with Bethnal Green instead forming Bethnal Green & Bow. In 1983 Bow was switched back to Poplar, forming Bow & Poplar, then returned to Bethnal Green & Bow in 1997. Now we're being bundled in with Stratford, an electoral sprawl from Victoria Park to Upton Park, and all of us who live here can expect a new MP come July. Lyn Brown on the Newham side is retiring, while Rushanara Ali on the Tower Hamlets side will only be representing those living west of the Regents Canal.

So who might Stratford & Bow get next?

Nizam Ali (Independent) - Nizam works for the NHS, although if you dig one layer down it turns out he's an IT/commercial/management/consultancy kind of guy. He's campaigning to 'Kick out Labour and the Tories!!' because they've destroyed the country over decades, but is particularly focused on attitudes to Palestine. Its flag appears prominently in his campaign materials, where he's hoping an appeal to Vote Against Genocide will attract disillusioned Muslims to his cause. He may only have 15 followers on TikTok and one video on YouTube thus far, but his campaign is still young. [Instagram] [Twitter]

Kane Blackwell (Conservative) - Kane is the young blood the Tories have sent here to cut his campaigning teeth. He's a former Young Chairman of the Conservative Democratic Organisation, lives in West Kent, spent eighteen months as a producer for GB News and was a keen Brexiteer. In a speech last year he won plaudits from the right for saying 'If you don't believe in Woke, then the Conservative Party is your home'. Skimming back down his twitterstream I see he counts Priti Patel as a friend, sends Nigel Farage birthday wishes, supports the (non-T) LGB Alliance, rails against 'virtue signalling lefty celebrities' and wants to Defund the BBC. These are not especially viewpoints which resonate in my part of London, but every future Minister has to start somewhere. [Twitter]

Jeff Evans (Reform) - Jeff's from Enfield where he was a UKIP candidate locally in 2014 and 2018 before switching to Reform in 2022. He describes himself as 'Anti Woke, Anti PC', despises ULEZ, isn't keen on immigrants and reckons 'there is no climate emergency, it's all a massive money making con'. One piece of evidence for this is that it was warmer in Europe on 21st June 2017 than on 21st June 2022, which in Jeff's world is a QED. He may pick up some of the anti-Tory vote this time round, indeed I know at least one of my readers will be voting for him because they signed his nomination papers, but he won't be creating ripples locally. [Twitter]

Omar Faruk (Independent) - Omar's a barrister "on a journey to justice" with 27 years legal experience, and also hitched to a car company as part of the BMW Responsible Leaders Global Network. He's the preferred local candidate of The Muslim Vote, a nationwide anti-Labour campaign supporting Anti-Genocide alternatives whose slogan is "No Vote = a Vote for Keir Starmer". Alas Omar's Pledge to the Community on his website addresses only the People of Tower Hamlets, not of Newham, and this is not how to win votes in a cross-borough constituency.

Steve Hedley (Independent) - Here's our third anti-genocide candidate, this time from the left. Steve is Chair of Newham Trades Union Council and was previously RMT Union Senior Assistant General Secretary so has impeccable socialist credentials. He's been campaigning for Palestine for years - that keffiyeh isn't new - and reckons the race for PM is between "a right wing racist Islamophobic scum bag or Richie Sunak". Taxing the rich is one of his key policies, and if elected will only take a worker's wage and throw the surplus into campaigning. Steve has over 6000 followers on Instagram, far more than any other candidate in this election, but thus far his GoFundMe for campaign funds remains some way adrift of his £5000 target. [Instagram]

Joe Hudson-Small (Green) - Joe's an IT professional and rents a property in the Olympic Park, making him the only one of the main candidates who lives in the constituency. He's pro affordable housing and accessible public transport, also a keen litterpicker and installer of dogpoobag dispensers. No other candidate in my constituency has 💚🏳️‍🌈🏳️‍⚧️ in their Twitter bio. Joe's also had more electoral success than any other candidate, this when he stood to be the Member for City and East in this year's London Assembly elections and attracted 29,073 votes, just ten behind the Conservatives. He could very easily come second this time (so will still be an IT professional in four weeks time). [Twitter]

Halima Khan (Workers Party) - We've seen all the men, now here come the women. Halima is the candidate for the party founded by George Galloway, the outspoken cat impersonator who's previously been the MP for those of us in Bow. She casts herself as "Whistleblower of the Labour Party, for the Nation, for the Constituents and for Palestine", although you'll only know about her whistleblowing activities if you've seen the Al Jazeera series The Labour Files. No love is lost between Halima and her former employer ("Vote for Labour if you love nepotism and hate representation"), but her chief focus on social media is very much the "Israeli genocide". She seems a little put out that The Muslim Vote recommended Omar and not her, but I suspect her campaigning fire means she'll poll higher. [Instagram] [Twitter]

Uma Kumaran (Labour) - Short of a Galloway-style upset, here's my next MP. Uma was "born in East London" to Sri Lankan parents, I guess not in the constituency or she'd have mentioned it. She studied at Queen Mary University (another near miss) but has actually lived here (even if she now lives near Harrow). She started her political journey as a parliamentary researcher, was later a senior adviser to the Mayor of London in his first term and has just resigned as a Director in a global Climate Leadership Group. Recent tweets show her embracing all the usual campaigning tropes - smiling alongside people holding leaflets, chatting to street traders and getting up close to constituents' dogs. No kissed babies yet, but Uma has a job for life here if she wants it so there's plenty of time. [Instagram] [Twitter]

Fiona Lali (Independent) - There are no clues on the ballot paper but Fiona is a prominent member of the Revolutionary Communist Party, having been expelled from Labour post-Corbyn. She's already taken on Suella Braverman in a supposed viral interview on GB News, and now wants to bring down capitalism and the British government. "I wholeheartedly believe that I will see a revolution in this country in my lifetime," she says, "Britain is ripe and ready for the making". Fiona doesn't do Instagram but she has 115,000 followers on TikTok and 47,000 on Twitter so discount her at your peril. Equally, as the fifth candidate in this constituency to be speaking up loudly for Palestine, attracting her share of the vote is going to be challenging. [TikTok] [Twitter]

Janey Little (Liberal Democrats) - Janey lives in North Somerset, joined the party in 2019 and is currently Chair of the Young Liberals. She was present at the manifesto launch yesterday, this just three days after finishing her Finals (PPE at Oxford, since you ask). She's one of five candidates here who aren't yet over 30 (the others being Kane, Joe, Halima and Fiona). I think she's worked out she's not going to win because she's spent more time campaigning in Swansea and Winchester thus far. Safe seats are strange things, especially in hastily-sprung elections with hundreds of seats to fill, and both Janey and Kane feel like they're here doing essential work experience rather than attempting to win. [Twitter]

It would be extraordinary if any constituency in Tower Hamlets or Newham failed to elect a Labour MP, even in a blue year, and this is very much not that. This has thus been a fairly pointless biographical dissection of the ten candidates, even if you actually live here, because Uma is going to walk it. That said, digging into their beliefs and backstories for blogging purposes has been fascinating, otherwise I would have been walking into that polling booth on July 4th with almost zero knowledge of who I wasn't voting for. You can dig into the candidates for your constituency here.

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