Poplar & Limehouse

2015 Result:
Conservative: 12962 (25.4%)
Labour: 29886 (58.5%)
Lib Dem: 2149 (4.2%)
Green: 2463 (4.8%)
UKIP: 3128 (6.1%)
TUSC: 367 (0.7%)
Others: 89 (0.2%)
MAJORITY: 16924 (33.2%)

Category: Very safe Labour seat

Geography: Greater London. Part of the Tower Hamlets council area.

Main population centres: Poplar, Wapping, Isle of Dogs.

Profile: An east London seat covering the Isle-of-Dogs and the Canary Wharf development. To the north it covers Bromley-by-Bow and Mile End, once home to the Jewish community, now dominated by Bangladeshi Muslims. To the west it stretches up to the boundaries of the City of London, and includes the Tower of London. It contains incredible extremes, from extreme deprivation in the north of the seat to the gleaming skyscrapers and dockside developments of Canary Wharf in the south (although even in the areas surrounding Canary Wharf there are still working class areas). Wards like Bromley-by-Bow are over 70% social housing, mostly Bangladeshi Muslims with around half the population in social classes DE and one in five residents born in Bangladesh. In contrast in Millwall and Wapping there are large proportions of owner-occupiers or private renters, white young professionals looking to move near to Canary Wharf..

Politics: Until 2004 this was a rock solid Labour area, held by the party since 1922. Since then the politics have been more colourful - the rapid gentrification around the docklands and Canary Wharf means the south of the seat has been more Conservative, while in the largely Bangladeshi northern part of the seat Labour came under threat from first Respect and then the followers of the Independent mayor of Tower Hamlets Lutfur Rahman, later ejected for electoral fraud. For a while the political runctions and the splitting of the Labour vote put this seat on the Conservative target list, but with the collapse of Respect and the disgrace of Rahman, this seat once again looks like a Labour banker. The seat contains a number of slices of political history - it was the site of the Wapping Dispute in the 1980s, the Gang of Four made their declaration launching the SDP at David Owen`s Limehouse house in 1981 and in 1993 was the location of the BNP`s first local election victory, when Derek Beackon was briefly elected as a councillor in Millwall.

Current MP
JIM FITZPATRICK (Labour) Born 1952, Glasgow. Educated at Holyrood Secondary. Former firefighter. First elected as MP for Poplar and Canning Town in 1997. PPS to Alan Milburn 1999-2001. Government whip 2001-2005, Junior minister in the DPM`s department 2005-2006, under-secretary of state for transport 2007-2009, Minister of State for farming 2009-2010.
Past Results
Con: 12649 (27%)
Lab: 18679 (40%)
LDem: 5209 (11%)
Resp: 8160 (17%)
Oth: 2003 (4%)
MAJ: 6030 (13%)
Con: 8499 (22%)
Lab: 15628 (40%)
LDem: 5420 (14%)
GRN: 955 (2%)
Oth: 8508 (22%)
MAJ: 7120 (18%)
Con: 6758 (20%)
Lab: 20862 (61%)
LDem: 3795 (11%)
BNP: 1743 (5%)
Oth: 950 (3%)
MAJ: 14104 (41%)
Con: 5892 (15%)
Lab: 24807 (63%)
LDem: 4072 (10%)
Oth: 3406 (9%)
MAJ: 18915 (48%)

*There were boundary changes after 2005, name changed from Poplar & Canning Town

2015 Candidates
CHRIS WILFORD (Conservative) Educated at Kings College London. Policy advisor. Contested Tower Hamlets mayoral election 2014.
JIM FITZPATRICK (Labour) See above.
ELAINE BAGSHAWE (Liberal Democrat) Educated at Nottingham High School for Girls and Birmingham University. Business Change Manager.
NICHOLAS MCQUEEN (UKIP) Businessman and florist.
RENE MAGENZI (Red Flag Anti Corruption)
Comments - 113 Responses on “Poplar & Limehouse”
  1. I don’t think ‘safe Labour seat’ is really an accurate description now.

    It’s a complex seat in a state of transition. Partly because every new luxury apartment block that goes up in the docklands area to house bankers will bring in more Tory votes, but also because the left wing vote will be split by Respect or other minor parties.

    The geography of the seat is such that as the population on the Isle of Dogs expands, any wards that get lopped off to reduce the electorate will be of benefit to the Tories. Will be interesting to see what happens over the next couple of elections.

  2. I think for the purposes of 2015 that it’s still a safe Labour seat. And it’s worth noting that Labour’s vote hardly declined at all in 2010, despite the continued upmarket turn of many southern parts of the seat, and despite Galloway’s candidacy. There will need to be huge further social change before the Tories can seriously expect to win here, even in a very good year.

  3. I think it will still be a “safe Labour seat” in 20 years’ time.

    A large number of the luxury apartments are owned by foreign citizens who can’t vote here.

    Respect are clearly diminishing as a significant force.

  4. Canning Town is still a nasty area and creates a barrier to the Docklands area which is fairly Conservative competitive.

    But I’m not actually sure where the boundaries go.

    Some of the area east is in danger of actually going back in to decline – a lesson on how to develop areas thinking ahead.

    Eventually a Conservative may be elected in a seat covering this area
    but in the meantime I would have to change my name to Gloy Plopwell
    and frankly, not going to do that.

  5. “Canning Town is still a nasty area and creates a barrier to the Docklands area which is fairly Conservative competitive.”

    Completely true, and you can certainly see how un-gentrified Canning Town is when you fly from City Airport. Canning Town is, however, part of Newham so no longer part of this seat. The same applies to Beckton, where multiple gentrification attempts also seem to have failed.

  6. Yes until that problem is cracked, it’s going to be difficult. Btw I use city airport where possible – a business airport and you get a much better service than heathrow.

  7. You get a fantastic view of this constituency from the Docklands Light Railway. The link to City Airport was a nice addition a few years ago. I had a ride on the cable car today, which is quite a breathtaking experience.

  8. I found it scarier than most cable cars, which go up the mountain along the same sort of gradient as the mountain. But then, it was very windy & it wobbled a bit.

  9. My prediction for 2015-
    Labour- 55%
    Conservative- 23%
    Respect- 10%
    Liberal Democrat- 9%
    UKIP- 3%

  10. Firefighter? Fireman actually

  11. LAB HOLD MAJ: 34%
    LAB 56
    CON 22
    LD 8
    RES 6
    UKIP 5
    GRN 3

  12. A solid Labour seat, no changes here. I think we will see the tory vote diminish considerably in the local elections in May

  13. Labour will be extremely keen to gain some of the Tory seats in the constituency this May, and to knock out the last LD councillor in Bethnal Green, since they face some threat from Independents & Respect in some wards which should be safe Labour. A lot will depend on whether the Independents who support Mayor Rahman a) do stand, and if so b) avoid competing with Respect for the hardline Bangladeshi & left-wing vote. I still find it hard to see Labour fail to retain an outright majority, seeing that the councillors who were suspended from the party were readmitted some time ago, but Tower Hamlets is totally unlike all the other London boroughs in its municipal politics and it might be wise not to be too certain of outcomes until the votes are in, or at least we know who the candidates are.

  14. I wouldn’t trust the results in Tower Hamlets no matter what they are

  15. Barnaby Mauder, I am not sure whether Respect will be able to defend their remaining 2 seats on Tower Hamlets Borough Council (which are also their last remaining council seats)…Respect has basically collapsed nationwide following the resignation from the party of those 5 councillors in Bradford and if Left Unity or the Socialists stand there they may end up receiving a significant portion of Respect’s former vote in this borough, if they bother to stand and work.

  16. You could be right about that. However you managed to spell my name wrong despite seeing it pretty frequently.

  17. It will be very interesting to see whether the Tories can hold onto their council seats on and around the Isle of Dogs. On the one hand, a lower turnout compared with 2010 and further gentrification should help them, on the other their majorities are quite small and Respect seemingly took a lot of Labour votes. Would be interested to hear what Pete and Barnaby expect to happen.

  18. I honestly don’t have any inside knowledge or insight, HH – I would only be guessing. I don’t know if there have been further large-scale owner-occupied developments in the Isle of Dogs since 2010 or if gentrification was already more or less complete by then. The GLA results suggest there ought to be some Labour gains, but at a guess I’d that the Tories should at least hold on to Millwall ward, though it’s possible that E India & Blackwall could be pretty close.

  19. It is worth noting here that quite a sizeable chunk of WWC residents have moved out to Essex over the last four years which may have some effect on the Tory vote on the Ilse of Dogs. Many friends of mine have done the move to Thurrock, Basildon, Benfleet etc. It means the Tories will have to campaign hard to make sure that those busy city workers (including a sizeable professional European community/young singletons) do actually come out and vote on the day. If Labour choose a Bengali candidate turnout will be high here as many in that community will almost certainly vote vote for him/her.

  20. Yes, good points.

    It’s also worth mentioning the high profile of Cllr Peter Golds, especially in terms of the work he has done trying to expose electoral fraud. I wonder whether that will do him good or harm in the election. It would certainly suit both Labour and the mayor for him to be defeated and he might therefore face a substantial campaign against him in his ward.

  21. Another issue to take into account is the significant changes in ward boundaries coming into effect this year. Tower Hamlets will now have 1, 2 and 3-member wards rather than the previous situation where all wards had 3 councillors.

  22. Yes I had forgotten that. It’s very strange given that London has moved over to 3 member wards as standard except in exceptional circumstances. I wonder why the commission is going back on that.

  23. I was unaware that was happening. Is that just in Tower Hamlets?

    I remember seeing a link on the Local Gov BC website some time ago but I never clicked on it.

  24. Boundary changes in some other boroughs too – K&C is one, IIRC.

  25. Also forgot to say the number of councillors is being cut from 51 to 45

  26. Hmm. I really had no idea about that, and am very surprised. I was very heavily involved in working on the boundary changes in my borough at the turn of the millenium, and ultimately Labour had to do a joint submission with the Conservatives since our proposals were so similar it made sense. The Commission were most adamant that there had to be 3-member wards other than in exceptional circumstances – Harefield in Hillingdon for example, being a detached village, was permitted to remain 2-member, and there are also 2-member wards which got through in Croydon and Hammersmith & Fulham (College Park & Old Oak), but nowhere else unless I’m much mistaken. I am surprised that the Commission have reversed their policies, and wonder if we could return to 2-member wards in my borough before long. After all, on the pre-2002 boundaries Labour would have won 5 seats on my council in that year’s elections; as it was, with the new LD-created boundaries we were wiped out, and quite comfortably too. I doubt if the Conservatives who now control the council would be averse to this. The irony is that the LDs were so desperate to wipe Labour out that they created wards which now could be, and indeed were, won by the Conservatives; all of the wards which contained any territory with Labour councillors were won by the Conservatives in 2002, not the LDs, though one (W Twickenham) has gone LD since as our vote collapsed.

  27. Bromley still has several 2-member wards (Mottingham, Crystal Palace, Biggin Hill, Shortlands) and one 1-member ward (Darwin).

  28. “I still find it hard to see Labour fail to retain an outright majority, seeing that the councillors who were suspended from the party were readmitted some time ago”

    This is not the case. There was another defection from Labour only last month, and they now only hold 26 seats on the council. There has been no rapprochement or reunion between those who left to follow Lutfur Rahman and the Labour party.

  29. I was having a think about this seat and I think the Tories’ best chances here will be in the new wards of Island Gardens and Canary Wharf, maybe Blackwall, Wapping and Limehouse at a push.

  30. “There has been no rapprochement or reunion between those who left to follow Lutfur Rahman and the Labour party.”

    Why would there be any rapprochement with someone who is [a somewhat litigious gentleman against whom no charges have been brought! 🙂 – AW]

    If Channel 4’s “How to get a council house” is to be believed, the bedroom tax and benefit cap combined with rapid gentrification have had a substantial impact in Tower Hamlets already, with many poor mostly Asian families leaving the borough.

    This is bound to have some kind of political effect, initially perhaps benefitting Labour by eroding mayor Rahman’s support base. Long term the Tory vote will strengthen.

  31. I’d have thought a large drop in the Respect vote is likely here mostly to Labour’s benefit but the Tory vote could move up a few points here.

  32. They finally declared a result in Bromley S ward, 5 days after the election. Labour won both seats. The second seat was won by only 10 votes, but really, did it need to take 5 days to sort that one out? We now await the delayed election in Blackwall & Cubitt Town. If Labour were to win all 3 seats there, that would mean overall control of the council by one seat.

  33. The result is in for the countermanded election in Blackwall & Cubitt Town. Labour won 2 of the 3 seats, and the Tories one. There were only 5 votes between the 2nd Labour candidate, the top Tory & the last Labour candidate meaning that Labour were only 6 votes away from retaining overall control of the council. Tower Hamlets First were just behind Labour & the Tories, then UKIP, the Greens & the LDs with only about 70 votes, finally TUSC (who got 11 votes) and an Independent also with 11 votes.

  34. Labour wouldn’t have control regardless of course because the Mayor is an Independent Islamist (unless of course a court overturns that result)

  35. Yes that’s true – not in reality certainly.

  36. Labour deserve everything they get in Tower Hamlets as they bent over backwards to please the bengali community in that borough over the past 30 odd years and now that same community have wised up to the fact that they do not need to vote Labour to gain power the Labour grip is slipping, albeit very slowly.

  37. Do you think Tower Hamlets First will stand in the general election, and how well will they do in the borough’s two seats?

  38. I have no idea as to whether they will stand but even if they do I suspect both seats are safe for Labour.

  39. Are respect just a pro-islamification of Britain party?

  40. Basically yes, with a few useful idiots from our home grown far left thrown in

  41. Pete is spot on.

  42. “I have no idea as to whether they will stand but even if they do I suspect both seats are safe for Labour.”

    It has to be remembered that Galloway/ Respect took 16.5% of Labours share of the vote in 2005 (Bethnal Green & Bow) and almost as much Conservative vote 10.1%.

    In the Bradford West by election Galloway / Respect took 20.2% of the Labour share of the vote and 22.7% of the Conservative share of the vote.

    If the Respect vote collaspes then it will not all go back to Labour because it did not all come from Labour in the first place.

    I could see a slump in the Respect vote not hugely benefiting Labour against a backdrop of increasing gentrification – particuarly in this constituency.

  43. Am I right in thinking that much Conservative vote share in areas with a high Asian population is down to religion/community of candidates? I’ve heard that explanation when talking about why some Tories went for Galloway in 2005. Of course in 2012 I suspect it was more a case of wanting to give Labour a kick.

  44. Much of the Asian Conservative vote in Bethnal Green & Bow and Bradford West emerged in 1997 when both these constiituencies not only bucked the massive national swing to Labour – and were the only two constituencies that swung to the Conservatives.

    I think that these results were down to Labour and Conservatives choice of candidates.

  45. The extent of gentrification in this seat could put it in the Tory column in the future. Obviously not for a few more elections but eventually if that’s where it’s trending.

  46. This seat along with Bethnal Green and Bow could both be gained by Tower Hamlets First in May and be Labours only losses outside of Scotland. I think Candidates have been selected through as its not 100% I won’t name them. This seat is the less likely of the two I believe through the fact this seat has a quite decent Tory vote which is likely to hold up better than other seats both from UKIP and swing away because of the Demographics of the vote does mean TH First or even Labour could finish third through. A decent chance for TH First to be third but very unlikely for Labour I would say. Personally I think it will be a Labour Hold but who knows TH First could easily take advantage from Political circumstances regarding if Mayor Rahman result will be overturned or not. An overturned result will greatly increase their chances of a win I think. Until the declaration nobody will know for sure. Even a Labour Landside could coincide with Tower Hamlets seats being lost.

  47. Would Alf Garnett have been in this seat? I caught a re-run over the holidays and recall him complaining about being moved out of Wapping for flats, although the Council that he complained about was Newham. Incidentally, before Christmas I bemoaned the lack of national tv events these days. I spotted that the Chas & Dave Christmas show re-run on ch5 drew in a surprising 1.2m viewers and Miss World 0.8m even though that was on a Sky channel. Would these unfashionable, non-PC viewers all be UKIP in Essex etc?

  48. The 1980’s series was set in West Ham was of course is Newham but that must have been where he was moved from.
    Wapping is definitely in this seat.

  49. Mayor Rahman electoral trial has began. As there at least 100 witness I believe any overturning of the result lt will be too late for a mayoral election on the same day as the general.and may not even decide before the general anyway. The trial has the potential to cause some serious violence depending on the result which may also impact on this seat’s May result. I would say TH first have around a 15% chance of winning this seat as Galloway was not close through circumstances are a bit better in this seat now and events at the high court could quite easily increase the chance.

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