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Page last updated at 16:02 GMT, Friday, 19 March 2010

MP Jim Fitzpatrick battle for Poplar and Limehouse seat

By Jerry Thomas
The Politics Show, BBC London

MP Jim Fitzpatrick
MP Jim Fitzpatrick will face a battle for the Poplar and Limehouse seat

In the East End of London incumbent Labour MP Jim Fitzpatrick faces a fight to hang on to his seat.

In 2005 it was Poplar and Canning Town but now after boundary changes the east end constituency has shifted a little westwards and is now Poplar and Limehouse.

80% of the old patch is included in the new constituency, but the changes in electoral terms are profound.

From a safe seat for New Labour incumbent MP Jim Fitzpatrick, current indications would suggest a too close to call fight between Conservatives and Labour, with Respect still a possible winner.

Tower Hamlets

The constituency sits in the London borough of Tower Hamlets where a quarter of households live on £15000 a year or less.

But it is also home to Canary Wharf, where the government calculated the average salary for a man in 2005 was over £100k per annum. Most of those people do not live locally, but that is changing.

Alisdair Carpenter, a local estate agent told the Politics Show London:

"It has changed quite dramatically. People didn't stay in the area. It was pretty desolate. People were here purely for work. They either rented places or had a bolt hole.

"Over the last 10 years, more and more people are staying in the area. It's become a place where people raise families and have children."

New politics

This 'new' population is one factor that has helped usher in new politics with critics reckoning that the Conservative party is the chief beneficiary.

But in this tale of two constituencies the borough has a severe problem with overcrowding, affecting up to a quarter of its residents.

George Galloway
In 2005 George Galloway unseated Labour's Oona King

Poplar and Limehouse is also notable for the fact a third of the voters are Muslim, the fifth highest proportion in the country.

Popular amongst many of those voters is Respects' George Galloway, who is standing this year.

In 2005, he caused one of the big upsets of election night by unseating Labour's Oona King in next door Bethnal Green and Bow.

An eventful five years has seen him take on the US Senate, appear on Big Brother and take three aid convoys to Gaza. But, less of the activity seems to have been in Parliament. In 2009, he only spoke in the House of Commons three times.

So can he do it again? Respect themselves admit that feelings about the war are not as strong as they were and in 2007, Respect split. Half of their twelve councillors in Tower Hamlets defected to other parties.

So traditional Labour territory challenged by a changing cultural and political landscape and an anti war party pitching for the Muslim vote makes this race just too close to call.

Current list of candidates standing in Poplar and Limehouse:
  • JIM FITZPATRICK MP - Labour
  • GEORGE GALLOWAY MP - Respect
  • Cllr. TIM ARCHER - Conservative
  • JONATHAN FRYER - Lib Dem
  • JIM THORNTON - Independent
  • ANDREW OSBOURNE - English Democrats

The Politics Show broadcasts at 1200 GMT on BBC One and for seven days after on the BBC iPlayer




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