Bethnal Green and Bow (UK Parliament constituency)

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Bethnal Green and Bow
Borough constituency
for the House of Commons
Outline map
Boundary of Bethnal Green and Bow in Greater London.
County Greater London
Population 125,351 (2011 census)[1]
Electorate 79,581 (December 2010)[2]
Current constituency
Created 1997
Member of parliament Rushanara Ali (Labour)
Number of members One
Created from Bethnal Green and Stepney
Number of members One
Replaced by Bethnal Green and Stepney
Created from Bethnal Green
European Parliament constituency London

Bethnal Green and Bow (Contemp. RP) /ˈbɛθnl̩ ɡɹiːn ənd bəʊ/, (Cons. RP) /ˈbeθ-/, (Est. Eng.) /ˈbɛfnəw ɡɹiːn ən bəʊ/ is a constituency[n 1] in Greater London represented in the House of Commons of the UK Parliament since 2010 by Rushanara Ali of the Labour Party.[n 2]


Since the 2014 boundary changes, the constituency has contained the following electoral wards:

  • Weavers, Spitalfields and Banglatown, Whitechapel, St. Peter's, Bethnal Green, Stepney Green, St. Dunstan's, Bow West, Bow East.[3]

History of boundaries

The 1974–83 constituency comprised the then London Borough of Tower Hamlets wards of Bethnal Green Central, Bethnal Green East, Bethnal Green North, Bethnal Green South, Bethnal Green West, Bow North, Bow South, Bromley, Holy Trinity and Spitalfields.

Between the 1983 and 1997 general elections, the equivalent seat was Bethnal Green and Stepney.

The Tower Hamlets wards of Blackwall and Cubitt Town, Bromley-by-Bow, East India and Lansbury, Limehouse, Mile End East, Millwall, St Katherine’s and Wapping and Shadwell were before 2010 under the national Boundary Commission for England review which identified a need for London representation changes based on electorate estimates moved to the new constituency of Poplar and Limehouse. In this review a name change to "Tower Hamlets North" was publicly consulted on and rejected.

From 2010 to 2014 the seat had electoral wards:

Constituency profile

Brick Lane

The seat is centred on the northern part of the London Borough of Tower Hamlets, taking in much of Bethnal Green, Bow and Stepney. It includes much of the traditional East End and Brick Lane. The seat has a large Muslim community – one of the largest proportion of Muslim voters in the country. Whereas the seat has many small conservation areas,[5] it measures overall as among the poorest by income in London and is one of the most ethnically diverse, there is no majority ethnic group — large ethnic groups are British Bangladeshi, British Pakistani, White British, other White European and Black British.

Workless claimants who were registered jobseekers were in November 2012 higher than the national average of 3.8%, at 6% of the population based on a statistical compilation by The Guardian.[6]


Political history

Bethnal Green and Bow is, based on results in local and national elections, traditionally a very safe Labour territory, its predecessor seats being held by Labour since before World War II however the 2005 Respect victory in this seat showed that a moderate Labour candidate may not always been radical enough for the electorate who were won over that year by that party's candidate, George Galloway, generally considered to be far-left, who mounted a campaign focussed on two seats (see Poplar and Shoreditch and see, as to council representation, the London Borough of Tower Hamlets).


In 1974 the Bethnal Green constituency was abolished. A new seat was created with the strict official name of Tower Hamlets, Bethnal Green and Bow. However the London Borough prefix is not commonly used for seats in the 1974–1983 redistribution.

The 1974–1983 constituency was a safe Labour seat, with the Liberal Party in a distant second place. Ian Mikardo, a well known back bench Labour MP, represented the area in this period.

Between 1983 and 1997, most of the present constituency formed the seat of Bethnal Green and Stepney.

The borough of Tower Hamlets has a reputation for being a bastion of radical politics, historically with a minority of Communists on its council and more recently with Respect forming the largest opponents to the quite frequent large Labour majorities on the council level. Before a recent revival, the Conservative Party were absent from the council from 1931 until 2006 – and all of its revival has been in the two riverside wards which does not apply to any of this seat.[7] The Liberal Party remained the main challengers to Labour in the Bethnal Green area but the loss of Percy Harris as Bethnal Green South West MP and eventually as London County Councillor too (despite a temporary comeback in 1946) put them out of the running in Parliamentary elections until a Liberal revival began in Bow in the late 1970s. Tower Hamlets was the only London Borough to have had seats held by the Communist Party of Great Britain; they lost their last seats in 1971. Between 1945 and 1950, Mile End provided the CPGB with one of its two parliamentary seats, being represented by Phil Piratin. Two Communists also won seats on the London County council (LCC) in 1947.

Between 1986 and 1994, the Liberal Democrats controlled Tower Hamlets London Borough Council, this proved a successful but controversial period. The delivery of major infrastructure projects, including many schools and school housing projects, was balanced by alleged corruption.


In the 1997 general election, there was a swing of 5% to the Conservative Party at a time when the national trend was a landslide swing against them. Bethnal Green and Bow was one of only two constituencies (of which there were more than 630) to have any sort of pro-Conservative swing. The other constituency was Bradford West. The Labour Party, broadsheets and local newspapers ascribed this unusual result to problems over the selection of a Labour Party candidate, following the retirement of Peter Shore. Oona King, who won the selection, was not well known and many in the local area would have preferred a candidate from for example a Bangladeshi background. However the leading Bangladeshi candidates in the local Labour Party were excluded from the selection.

Following British participation in the invasion of Iraq, an action deeply unpopular with the Muslim community in the constituency but nevertheless supported by Oona King, the newly formed Respect coalition gained support. They topped the poll in Tower Hamlets in the 2004 European Parliamentary elections and subsequently won their first local council seat in a by-election. In the May 2005 general election, the seat was narrowly won by former Labour MP George Galloway, one of Respect's leading figures. Respect also won seats in the 2006 local council elections although its performance was not as strong as many observers believed it could have been.[citation needed]

George Galloway has attracted criticism for lack of attendance at Parliament, especially when he appeared in the reality TV programme Big Brother.[citation needed] However, he has countered that he has not missed any crucial votes and that the best way for him to advance the interests of his constituents is by general campaigning. Galloway had always said that he only intended to stay in the seat for one parliament and in 2010 stood for the neighbouring constituency of Poplar and Limehouse. However, he lost the poll to the Labour incumbent Jim Fitzpatrick.

General Election 2010

In September 2007, the Respect party selected Abjol Miah, the leader of the Respect Group on Tower Hamlets Council as their candidate to replace George Galloway in Bethnal Green and Bow. He had worked in the local area as a radio presenter, drugs worker and martial arts trainer. The Labour Party selected Rushanara Ali, an Oxford graduate who had previously worked as Parliamentary Assistant to former MP Oona King,[8] then working for local charity The Young Foundation. Ajmal Masroor, a television presenter on political debates and an imam,[9] was the Liberal Democrat Candidate. Zakir Khan was selected by the Conservative Party from an open primary. He was the Head of Public Affairs for the Canary Wharf Group based in Tower Hamlets, and a former sports manager.

The election result was a clear win for Labour, this constituency being one of only three that Labour gained in the 2010 election, and represented a major setback for Respect (which thereby lost its only seat in Parliament). Ali won with 21,784 votes (42.9%, up 8.4% for Labour); Masroor came in second with 10,210 (20.1%, up 7.8% for the Liberal Democrats); Miah received only 8,532 votes, 16.8% of the total, representing a 19.8% fall in the Respect vote; and Khan received 7,071 (13.9%, a 2.0% increase in the Conservative vote). However, after George Galloway lost his seat in this constituency in 2010, he went on to win the Bradford West constituency in a by-election held on 29 March 2012.

Members of Parliament

Election Member[10] Party
Feb 1974 Ian Mikardo Labour Co-operative
1983 constituency abolished: see Bethnal Green and Stepney
1997 constituency recreated
1997 Oona King Labour
2005 George Galloway Respect
2010 Rushanara Ali Labour

Election results

Elections since 1997

Election Political result Candidate Party Votes % ±%
General Election 2015 [11][12] [13]
Turnout: 52,924 (64.0%) +1.6
Labour hold
Majority: 24,317 (45.9%) +23.1
Swing: 8.5% from Con to Lab
Rushanara Ali Labour 32,387 61.2 +18.3
Matthew Smith Conservative 8,070 15.2 +1.3
Alistair Polson Green 4,906 9.3 +7.6
Pauline McQueen UKIP 3,219 6.1 N/A
Teena Lashmore Liberal Democrat 2,395 4.5 −15.6
Glyn Robbins TUSC 949 1.8 N/A
M Rowshan Ali Communities United 356 0.7 N/A
Jonathan Dewey CISTA 303 0.6 N/A
Alasdair Henderson[14] Whig 203 0.4 N/A
Elliot Ball The 30–50 Coalition 78 0.1 N/A
Jason Pavlou Red Flag Anti-Corruption 58 0.1 N/A
General Election 2010 [15]
Electorate: 79,581
Turnout: 50,728 (62.4%) +10.9
Labour gain from Respect
Majority: 11,574 (22.8%) N/A
Swing: 14.1%% from Respect to Lab
Rushanara Ali Labour 21,784 42.9 +8.4
Ajmal Masroor Liberal Democrat 10,210 20.1 +7.8
Abjol Miah Respect 8,532 16.8 −19.8
Zakir Khan Conservative 7,071 13.9 +2.0
Jeffrey Marshall BNP 1,405 2.8 N/A
Farid Bakht Green 856 1.7 −2.8
Patrick Brooks Independent 277 0.5 N/A
Alexander van Terheyden Pirate 213 0.4 N/A
Hasib Hikmat Independent 213 0.4 N/A
Haji Mahmood Choudhury Independent 100 0.2 N/A
Ahmed Abdul Malik Independent 71 0.1 N/A
General Election 2005
Turnout: 44,007 (51.2%) +1.0
Respect gain from Labour
Majority: 823 (1.9%) N/A
Swing: 26.2% from Lab to Respect
George Galloway Respect 15,801 35.9 N/A
Oona King Labour 14,978 34.0 −16.5
Shahagir Bakth Faruk Conservative 6,244 14.2 −10.1
Syed Nurul Islam Dulu Liberal Democrat 4,928 11.2 −4.3
John Foster Green 1,950 4.4 +0.1
Ejiro Etefia Independent 68 0.2 N/A
Celia Pugh Communist League 38 0.1 N/A
General Election 2001
Turnout: 38,414 (50.2%) −10.1
Labour hold
Majority: 10,057 (26.2%) +0.9
Oona King Labour 19,380 50.5 +4.1
Shahagir Bakth Faruk Conservative 9,323 24.3 +3.2
Janet Ludlow Liberal Democrat 5,946 15.5 +3.5
Anna Bragga Green 1,666 4.3 +2.5
Michael Davidson BNP 1,211 3.2 −4.3
Dennis Delderfield New Britain 888 2.3 N/A
General Election 1997
Turnout: 44,682 (60.3%) −5.2
Labour win
Majority: 11,285 (25.3%) N/A
Oona King Labour 20,697 46.3 −9.5
Kabir Choudhury Conservative 9,412 21.1 +3.2
Syed Nurul Islam Dulu Liberal Democrat 5,361 12.0 −10.3
David King BNP 3,350 7.5 +3.9
Terry Milson Liberal 2,963 6.6 N/A
Sheref Osman Independent 1,117 2.5 N/A
Stephen Petter Green 812 1.8 N/A
Muhammed Abdullah Referendum 557 1.2 N/A
Abdul Hamid Socialist Labour 413 0.9 N/A

Elections in the 1970s

Election Political result Candidate Party Votes % ±%
General Election, 1979
Turnout: 51,436 (55.5%) +2.5
Labour hold
Majority: 7,554 (26.5%) −29.4
Ian Mikardo Labour 14,227 49.9 −19.0
Eric Flounders Liberal 6,673 23.4 +10.4
Robin Page Conservative 5,567 19.5 +9.0
Martin Webster National Front 1,740 6.1 −1.5
W.C. Colvill Workers Revolutionary 183 0.6 +0.6
R.J. Varnes Socialist Unity 153 0.5 +0.5
General Election, October 1974
Turnout: 53,753 (53.0%) −8.0
Labour hold
Majority: 15,949 (55.9%) +10.0
Ian Mikardo Labour 19,649 68.9 +3.3
Tudor Gates Liberal 3,700 13.0 −6.7
Christopher Murphy Conservative 2,995 10.5 −4.2
W.E. Castleton National Front 2,172 7.6 +7.6
General Election, February 1974
Turnout: 53,427 (61.0%)
Labour win of new seat
Majority: 14,954 (45.9%)
Ian Mikardo Labour 21,371 65.6 N/A
Tudor Gates Liberal 6,417 19.7 N/A
Christopher Murphy Conservative 4,787 14.7 N/A


The 2011 census recorded a population of 125,351 people. The constituency has recently become one of the most ethnically diverse areas in the UK, 3.11% of the population were of mixed race, the largest non-mixed ethnic group was white at 41.9 per cent of the population (and of the total: 33.6% of British ethnicity), the second largest ethnic group was Bangladeshi which formed 33.4 per cent of the population, other Asians 6.59 per cent (comprises British Indians, British Pakistanis and other Asians), those of Black race constituted 4.9 per cent (see British African-Caribbean community), Chinese 1.81 per cent, and other ethnic groups, including Arab heritage 2.24 per cent. Statistics from the census recorded 35.4 per cent of people are Muslims, among the highest ten seats by Islamic proportion of the population in the UK.[16]

In 2001 the largest two groups were in the same order, but constituted 46.4% and 35.7% of the population, respectively.[16]

Notes and references

  1. A borough constituency (for the purposes of election expenses and type of returning officer)
  2. As with all constituencies, the constituency elects one Member of Parliament (MP) by the first past the post system of election at least every five years.
  1. "Bethnal Green and Bow: Usual Resident Population, 2011". Neighbourhood Statistics. Office for National Statistics. Retrieved 29 January 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  2. "Electorate Figures – Boundary Commission for England". 2011 Electorate Figures. Boundary Commission for England. 4 March 2011. Retrieved 13 March 2011.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  3. Report of Local Government Boundary Commission for England on Tower Hamlets council website
  4. 2010 post-revision map Greater London and metropolitan areas of England
  5. London Borough Tower Hamlets – Conservation Areas detailed map showing majority of the 58 in the borough are in this area.
  6. Unemployment claimants by constituency The Guardian
  7. Election results – London Borough of Tower Hamlets
  8. "Commission to tackle child poverty in London". London Councils. 2006-02-20. Retrieved 2008-09-18.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  9. Ajmal For London
  10. Leigh Rayment's Historical List of MPs – Constituencies beginning with "B" (part 3)[self-published source][better source needed]
  11. "Election Data 2015". Electoral Calculus. Archived from the original on 17 October 2015. Retrieved 17 October 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  12. 9Jul15 and electorate was 82,727
  13. In 2015, the Class War Party announced Duncan Disorderly as its candidate (see "Candidates". Class War. Retrieved 30 January 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>), but he failed to stand.
  14. "Bethnal Green and Bow". Whig Party. Retrieved 24 March 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  15. "Election Data 2010". Electoral Calculus. Archived from the original on 17 October 2015. Retrieved 17 October 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  16. 16.0 16.1 2011 Census statistics – Neighbourhood Statistics. Table: QS201EW

External links


  • Boundaries of Parliamentary Constituencies 1885–1972, compiled and edited by F.W.S. Craig (Parliamentary Reference Publications 1972)
  • British Parliamentary Election Results 1974–1983, compiled and edited by F.W.S. Craig (Parliamentary Research Services 1984)
  • Who's Who of British Members of Parliament, Volume IV 1945–1979, edited by M. Stenton and S. Lees (Harvester Press 1981)