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Sunday, July 21, 2024
Chrisp Street Market. Photo by Holly Munks © Social Streets C.I.C.
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The word on Chrisp Street: what people in Poplar think about the general election

With the general election upon us tomorrow, we asked locals shopping in Chrisp Street Market what they want from their next leader.

Voting kicks off at 07:00 tomorrow, but many in Poplar still haven’t decided how they’ll cast their ballot. 

Chrisp Street Market is in the heart of the Poplar and Limehouse constituency. Despite being a stone’s throw from Canary Wharf, this voting area is among those with the highest rates of child poverty in the country. 

It has historically been a Labour stronghold, with Apsana Begum representing the area since 2019. Begum is standing for re-election, following speculation that Labour would ask her to stand down as an MP in what commentators described as ‘Labour’s left-wing cull’.

Residents have 10 candidates to pick between, Apsana Begum (Labour), Freddie Downing (Conservatives), Richard Flowers (Liberal Democrats), Nathalie Bienfait (Green Party), Kamran Khan (Workers Party of Britain), Tony Glover (Reform UK), Manny Lawal (Social Democratic Party), Ehtashamul Haque (Independent).

We asked local people how they felt about the general election, and which issues matter most to them. Here’s what they had to say. 

Amanah Ali, pharmacist, 22

What are your thoughts on Labour at the moment?

I’m still voting Labour for Apsana Begum and I don’t care if it’s controversial. They will undoubtedly win a majority so there’s no point voting for other candidates who won’t be able to make a difference. I’ve voted for her for years. She’s been through a lot in her career but she’s still defended her morals and her policies. I won’t change that now just because the head of her party is a downright loser. 

Nana Asare Amponsem, NHS worker, 53

Do you think change will come with the next government?

I think so – I hope so, anyway. It’s a hard job. 

Who stands out to you as a candidate?

I’m not sure about the candidates in this area. But I’ve known Rabeena Khan [note: Khan is a former Labour Councillor for Shadwell, currently standing as the Liberal Democrat candidate for Bethnal Green and Stepney]. I remember when she was a young girl, door-knocking and handing out leaflets. I voted for her then and I would still vote for her now. I know she wants to do a lot of good things and I think she deserves to win. I was worried for a bit because she was with that dodgy mayor, Lutfur Rahman. But she’s doing her own thing now. 

Anisa Rahman, sixth-form student in Poplar, 17

If you could vote in this election, who would you vote for?

Probably either the Liberal Democrats or the Green Party. My family has always voted for Labour, but it feels like the Labour party has changed. The thing is, Jeremy Corbyn was a good man – I like him. Keir Starmer though, he just seems fake. He doesn’t seem like an actual Labour person. 

Mohamed Ahmed, local to Poplar

Are you planning to vote in the election? 

I don’t know. I just feel like the Conservatives have screwed up the economy, but I feel like Labour is more dangerous. I don’t trust the policies Labour wants to implement.

Which policies concern you the most?

I’m worried about men being allowed to use women’s bathrooms because I have sisters and nieces. I fear that under Labour, these policies would come into society. 

I’m also concerned about the health system. Older people are struggling to make doctor’s appointments. You can’t just phone and get an appointment now. The government is trying to make people book appointments online, but not everyone can access the internet. How many older people do you think would get the internet when they didn’t grow up knowing how to use it? The government is bringing in policies without thinking about how it could impact people. Sure, I can do online booking, but my mom can only just about use YouTube. It just adds an extra barrier. 

Do you trust any of the parties to deliver on their promises?

Not really. My friend is going to vote Labour because they’re a different party to what we have now, but I don’t see what Labour will do to make things better. The conservatives messed up the NHS, and I don’t know how Labour will get it working again. I don’t know what’s going to happen to schooling and education. I just don’t see how they are actually going to improve the country.

Alex Duncan Cane, retired, 72 

How do you feel about the politicians who want to represent the area? 

You can’t trust any of these MPs. They are all selfish – I’ll tell you that. Not one of them has good politics. 

For more of our general election coverage, read Voting guide 2024: what to expect on polling day in Tower Hamlets

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