Bethnal Green Market. © Social Streets
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From Bethnal Green to the ballot box: The electoral mood on the street

With the general election in less than 24 hours, we asked locals how they felt about the election and if they thought change was coming.

Voting kicks off at 07:00 on Thursday, but many in Bethnal Green still haven’t decided who they are voting for or if they will even vote. 

The Bethnal Green and Bow constituency no longer exists for the 2024 general election, because of boundary changes. It has now been split into the following constituencies: Bethnal Green and Stepney and Stratford and Bow.

Here’s what the electoral mood is in Bethnal Green:

Altaf Hussain, Market trader, 40s 

Have you read the manifestos? How are you feeling about the election?

People are affected by what happens day to day. Whether you’re middle class or working class. These are the issues. Can you afford to pay the mortgage or your child’s extra tuition? Can you put enough food on your table? These are the conversations that need to be had and policies should be made that impact these day-to-day things. Policies that actually impact you. Like the Green Party saying they will cut crime to zero. How can you do that? It is scientifically impossible. Other parties might have good policies but they are not big enough. 

Do you think things will change with a Labour government?

Nothing will change. We are economically in a situation where the promises that are being made are not realistic. If you haven’t got the money, how are you making promises in your manifestos? Then you won’t be able to deliver on those policies. 

Yogita Danfa, Student, 18

Will you be voting on Thursday?

Oh, I don’t know anything about politics. I won’t be voting. I don’t even know who is running. 

Hasan Karakus, Market Trader, 40s

Who will you be voting for at the election?

I will vote for the communist party. 

Pointing out that there was no communist party, Hasan told us he would vote for whoever was the most communist. 

Jamal Smith, Delivery Driver, 16

Fresh out of school and loading up his delivery bag onto his bike, we asked Smith how he felt about the general election, even though he’s not yet old enough to vote this year.

Like many other young people we had come across, he said; ‘I’m not very bothered about the election. I don’t know much about it and I don’t think my vote would change anything.’

Mina Shah, Personal Trainer, 26

Who are you voting for and why? 

I’m voting Liberal Democrats because Ed Davey is such a lovely man and he seems like such an empathetic leader. Rabina Khan is also a powerful and great candidate. It’s hard to trust any politician these days, but my mother is disabled and elderly, and the Lib Dems have policies that could really help us. So I will be voting for them and praying and hoping that something changes to help those that really need it. 

Zaheda Begum, Mum, 30s

How are you feeling about the election? Have you decided who to vote for?

I’ve always voted Labour. It’s what I’ve always known, that Labour were the better party. But things have changed, the Labour party has changed. They’re no longer representative of the working class. Even before those comments, Keir Starmer made about the Bangladeshi community, I just felt like he was insincere every time he spoke. Rushsanara Ali, to me, has lost all credibility. First, she doesn’t take part in the Palestine vote and now she will let her leader talk about her community in such a way. She should be embarrassed and stand as an independent or stand down. 

I know that many Bengali voters are conflicted. Some are leaning towards independents like Ajmal Masroor and Sham Uddin, but none seem sincere. Keir Starmer’s comments about deporting Bangladeshis have pushed many away from Labour, despite our community being one of Labour’s loyalist supporters. 

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

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