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Voting down the Roman: what people in Bow think about the general election

The general election is just one sleep away, so we asked local people down Roman Road what they want out of their next leader.

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

Before the constituency boundaries changed, residents in the wards of Bow East and Bow West were part of Bethnal Green and Bow. Now, they’re part of a new, third constituency in Tower Hamlets – Stratford and Bow – and residents are about to select their first MP.

The constituency also contains wards in Newham, previously part of West Ham. Both West Ham and Bethnal Green and Bow have traditionally been Labour strongholds, indicating how voters may cast their ballot on Thursday.

But nothing’s set in stone, and residents have 10 candidates to pick between, Uma Kumaran (Labour), Kane Blackwell (Conservatives), Janey Little (Liberal Democrats), Joe Hudson-Small (Green Party), Halima Khan (Workers Party of Britain), Jeff Evans (Reform UK), Fiona Lali (Independent), Omar Faruk (Independent), Steve Hedley (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.

Sophie Stuiver, reception manager in Tower Hamlets, 27

 What are your thoughts on Labour at the moment?

I’m really angry and frustrated because the Bangladeshi community has supported Labour for a very long time, especially my parents, so originally we thought yeah let’s vote Labour, but after seeing how [Keir Starmer] is talking about the Bangladeshi community, that was disgusting.

There’s so many ethnic minorities living in Tower Hamlets, and the words he used are like “go back to your country”, it’s just ridiculous and that’s pure racism. I think independent – that’s who I’ll vote for. 

How important is the Israel-Gaza war to your vote?

Obviously, Gaza is very close to our heart, and the whole conspiracy, and the war and the bombing and the killing of the children, and all the women, it’s really sad. And the fact that no one is actually like, everyone’s standing up and doing so much, but they’re not actually being arrested, it’s not a crime, and it is genuine genocide, it’s so upsetting.

What issues do you care about the most?

Cost of living, NHS, TFL, our jobs, housing as well, more opportunities, for women as well, my parents. I think housing is such a big issue in Tower Hamlets as well. I can see they’re doing a lot of things as well, but I think that’s one of the biggest issues. 

Just naturally, we would vote for Labour. But now we won’t. He’s lost so much, because in Tower Hamlets, there are a lot of Bangladeshis, like a lot, and he just lost all of that, and that’s his fault, and he’s a racist, and he deserves to go back to his country, if he has one.

Hakim Rahman, owner of Sugar Shack, 26

 Will you vote on Thursday?

I’ve registered to vote but I’m still debating Labour or Conservative. This is my first time voting.

What are the most important issues for you?

I feel like, the young people, the knife crime. I want the neighbourhood, and the roads to be safer. This should be the first concern. Because there’s a lot of fights. Especially the Roman Road, it’s not a good area. I work here, so I can see at nighttime, there’s always people stealing, there’s a lot of theft. Even here, the rider comes here with their bike, and within a minute someone steals it. It’s getting harder for the riders, whoever does Deliveroo and Just Eat, it’s harder for them. I don’t think many people want to do Uber Eats or Deliveroo but they’re doing it because they don’t have another option. But it’s really sad when you see teenage people stealing bikes. So the parties should look into how to stop knife crime and stealing bikes.

What are your views on immigration?

I don’t think anyone wants to leave their own country. Everybody wants to have a better life. There are people who want to stay in their country because they have a better life, and there are people who are struggling in their own country, so they go somewhere else to have a better life. So I think it should be fair. Nobody should stop anybody. I don’t think we should make their lives more difficult, we should be fair and allow them.

Retired Roman Road Market trader, 80

How do you feel about the different political parties?

I have no confidence in any of them, they’re all the same, they’re all the same. Once they get in, they’re all just for themselves.

How do you feel about the Conservatives?

I’m disappointed with how they’ve allowed the country to go. And they’ve been in charge so, it’s their fault. But also I’ve had this other lot, that’s going to get in, Labour, I’ve had them before. And they’re just as bad, when they got thrown out last time, the country was bankrupt. They left a note in the safe, in the treasury, with something on it like, “sorry, nothing left, all gone”. That was the last lot, and they’re going to get put back in again.

What do you want your politicians to do?

To do something proper. Have you tried to get a doctor’s appointment? It’s incredible that it’s been allowed to go like this. All sorts of things. The changeover to the internet, for people like me at my age, we don’t understand any of it, and we can’t get to grips with it. I can’t go and park my car, because I can’t do apps, and all that, I can’t do that, but we’re not considered at all. It’s just one big mess.

How will you decide? Will you be reading the manifestos?

No, I won’t read anything that they say, because they never do it. For the first time in my life, I do not know what I’ll do. When I was younger I used to vote Labour. I’ve since voted Conservative because Labour just continually ended up bankrupting the country. You know what they say about socialism – you spend other people’s money. I’m for someone who will reward people who get up and go to work in the morning, will help those that need help, and control immigration.

George Abbott, owner of Abbott’s, 81

How do you feel about the general election?

I’m going to vote Conservative, because that’s the only chance the country has got. The country is in a terrible mess, and the politicians that you’ve got now, I would think 60% to 70% on both sides, I wouldn’t trust any of them, because they’re not professional politicans. Tony Blair was the obvious leader wasn’t he, he had a 10-year plan when he came in, but he forgot to tell all of us mug punters that the first five years were for his wife Cherie, he made all her friends peers and God knows what, and the second 10 years were for him. And how he’s a multi-millionaire floating around the world, not doing a lot. That’s Labour for you, but everyone wants to have a good life. But they decry the workers from having a good life.

Immigration has got out of control. I live in Tower Hamlets, and really I’d be better off getting the voting thing, and making a plane and throwing it out the window, because it’s 70% ethnic. It’s not been controlled and it’s out of control, and it can only get worse. You don’t want to be too harsh on everything, but if I was younger, I probably wouldn’t still be living in this country.

Morwenna Griffin, early years educator in Bow, 36

How do you feel about the different parties?

I’ll probably vote for Labour. I think their early years policies are better, and I work in that sector, so that’s what I’m particularly interested in.

What are some other issues you care about?

I think mainly education, and the knock-on things you get in education, like access to services for special needs, or speech and language, there’s such a delay at the moment, and that’s such a big issue with SEN children as well. They’re not getting enough funding, and it’s the same with all the other services as well. It’s the same with social services, it can be hard to access the right support you need for children.

Do you trust Keir Starmer to solve those issues?

I think he could go further than he’s going, but I do think it would be better than the current situation.

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3 thoughts on “Voting down the Roman: what people in Bow think about the general election

  • Votes from Old Ford also will be interesting. People fed up around there as well

  • George Abbott is on the wrong side of history. The Conservatives have truly failed and are finished, least in the current form anyway! Reform are the way forward now

    • Reform are a shower of racist grifters, nothing more


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