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
CountyGreater London
Population125,351 (2011 census)[1]
Electorate79,581 (December 2010)[2]
Current constituency
Member of ParliamentRushanara Ali (Labour)
Created fromBethnal Green and Stepney
Created fromBethnal Green
Replaced byBethnal Green & Stepney and Bow & Poplar[3]

Bethnal Green and Bow 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]

The 2023 Periodic Review of Westminster constituencies proposes to abolish the seat in its revised proposal for the next general election.[4]


Map of present boundaries

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.[5]

History of boundaries[edit]

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[edit]

Brick Lane

The seat is centred on the northern part of the London Borough of Tower Hamlets, taking in much of Bethnal Green, Cambridge Heath, Whitechapel, Shadwell, Spitalfields and Stepney, most of Bow, and parts of Shoreditch, Limehouse and Hackney Wick. 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,[7] 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, 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.[8]


Political history[edit]

Bethnal Green and Bow is, based on results in local and national elections, traditionally a very safe Labour seat, its predecessor seats being held by Labour since prior to World War II. However, the 2005 Respect victory in this constituency bucked that trend when the electorate voted for expelled Labour MP, 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.[9] 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[citation needed] but controversial period. The delivery of major infrastructure projects, including many schools and school housing projects, was balanced by alleged corruption.


At 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 Labour-held constituencies to have any sort of pro-Conservative swing. Broadsheets and local newspapers ascribed this unusual result to problems over the selection of a Labour 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 a Bangladeshi background. However the leading Bangladeshi candidates in the local Labour Party were excluded from the selection. The only other constituency to have a pro-Conservative swing was Bradford West, who similarly had selected a Sikh rather than a Muslim candidate.

Following British participation in the 2003 invasion of Iraq, an action deeply unpopular with the Muslim community in the constituency but nevertheless supported by King, the newly formed Respect Party gained support. They topped the poll in Tower Hamlets in the 2004 European Parliamentary elections and subsequently won their first local council seat at a by-election. In the 2005 general election, the seat was a narrow victory for ex-Labour MP George Galloway, one of Respect's leading figures. Respect also won seats at the 2006 local council elections although its performance was not as strong as many observers believed it could have been.

Galloway attracted criticism for lack of attendance at Parliament, especially when he appeared on Celebrity Big Brother. He said that he had not missed any crucial votes, and that the best way for him to advance the interests of his constituents was 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 to the Labour incumbent Jim Fitzpatrick.

2010 general election[edit]

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. Miah 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 and then-charity worker for the Young Foundation who had previously worked as Parliamentary Assistant to the constituency's former Labour MP, Oona King. Ajmal Masroor, a television presenter on political debates and an imam,[10] 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 had gained at the 2010 general election, and represented a major setback for Respect (which thereby lost its sole 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 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, George Galloway did not contest re-election as MP for Bethnal Green and Bow, instead contesting Poplar and Limehouse. He finished in third place there, behind the Conservatives and Labour; but went on to win the Bradford West constituency at a by-election held on 29 March 2012.

Members of Parliament[edit]

Election Member[11] Party
Feb 1974 Ian Mikardo Labour
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[edit]

Bethnal Green & Bow Results 1997-2019.png

Elections in the 2010s[edit]

2019 general election: Bethnal Green and Bow[12]
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Labour Rushanara Ali 44,052 72.7 +0.9
Conservative Nicholas Stovold 6,528 10.8 −1.9
Liberal Democrats Josh Babarinde 5,892 9.7 +4.7
Green Shahrar Ali 2,570 4.2 +1.7
Brexit Party David Axe 1,081 1.8 New
Animal Welfare Vanessa Hudson 439 0.7 New
Majority 37,524 61.9 +2.8
Turnout 60,562 68.7 −0.8
Registered electors 88,169
Labour hold Swing +1.4
2017 general election: Bethnal Green and Bow[13][14]
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Labour Rushanara Ali 42,969 71.8 +10.6
Conservative Charlotte Chirico 7,576 12.7 −2.5
Independent Ajmal Masroor 3,888 6.5 New
Liberal Democrats Will Dyer 2,982 5.0 +0.5
Green Alistair Polson 1,516 2.5 -6.8
UKIP Ian de Wulverton 894 1.5 −4.6
Majority 35,393 59.1 +13.1
Turnout 59,825 69.5 +5.5
Registered electors 86,075
Labour hold Swing +6.6
2015 general election: Bethnal Green and Bow[15][16][17]
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Labour Rushanara Ali 32,387 61.2 +18.3
Conservative Matthew Smith 8,070 15.2 +1.3
Green Alistair Polson 4,906 9.3 +7.6
UKIP Pauline McQueen 3,219 6.1 New
Liberal Democrats Teena Lashmore 2,395 4.5 −15.6
TUSC Glyn Robbins 949 1.8 New
Communities United M Rowshan Ali 356 0.7 New
CISTA Jonathan Dewey 303 0.6 New
Whig Alasdair Henderson[18] 203 0.4 New
The 30–50 Coalition Elliot Ball 78 0.1 New
Red Flag Anti-Corruption Jason Pavlou 58 0.1 New
Majority 24,317 46.0 +23.2
Turnout 52,924 64.0 +1.6
Registered electors 82,727
Labour hold Swing +8.5
2010 general election: Bethnal Green and Bow[19]
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Labour Rushanara Ali 21,784 42.9 +8.4
Liberal Democrats Ajmal Masroor 10,210 20.1 +7.8
Respect Abjol Miah 8,532 16.8 −19.8
Conservative Zakir Khan 7,071 13.9 +2.0
BNP Jeffrey Marshall 1,405 2.8 New
Green Farid Bakht 856 1.7 −2.8
Independent Patrick Brooks 277 0.5 New
Pirate Alexander van Terheyden 213 0.4 New
Independent Hasib Hikmat 209 0.4 New
Independent Haji Choudhury 100 0.2 New
Independent Ahmed Abdul Malik 71 0.1 New
Majority 11,574 22.8 N/A
Turnout 50,728 62.4 +10.9
Registered electors 81,243
Labour gain from Respect Swing +14.1

Elections in the 2000s[edit]

2005 general election: Bethnal Green and Bow[20]
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Respect George Galloway 15,801 35.9 New
Labour Oona King 14,978 34.0 −16.5
Conservative Shahagir Faruk 6,244 14.2 −10.1
Liberal Democrats Syed Dulu 4,928 11.2 −4.3
Green John Foster 1,950 4.4 +0.1
Independent Ejiro Etefia 68 0.2 New
Communist League Celia Pugh 38 0.1 New
Majority 823 1.9 N/A
Turnout 44,007 51.2 +1.0
Registered electors 82,599
Respect gain from Labour Swing +26.2
2001 general election: Bethnal Green and Bow[21]
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Labour Oona King 19,380 50.5 +4.2
Conservative Shahagir Faruk 9,323 24.3 +3.2
Liberal Democrats Janet Ludlow 5,946 15.5 +3.5
Green Anna Bragga 1,666 4.3 +2.5
BNP Michael Davidson 1,211 3.2 −4.3
New Britain Dennis Delderfield 888 2.3 New
Majority 10,057 26.2 +1.0
Turnout 38,414 50.2 −10.1
Registered electors 79,192
Labour hold Swing −0.5

Elections in the 1990s[edit]

1997 general election: Bethnal Green and Bow[22]
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Labour Oona King 20,697 46.3
Conservative Kabir Choudhury 9,412 21.1
Liberal Democrats Syed Dulu 5,361 12.0
BNP David King 3,350 7.5
Liberal Terry Milson 2,963 6.6
Independent Sheref Osman 1,117 2.5
Green Stephen Petter 812 1.8
Referendum Muhammed Abdullah 557 1.2
Socialist Labour Abdul Hamid 413 0.9
Majority 11,285 25.2
Turnout 44,682 60.3
Registered electors 73,008
Labour win (new seat)

Elections in the 1970s[edit]

1979 general election: Bethnal Green and Bow
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Labour Ian Mikardo 14,227 49.9 −19.0
Liberal Eric Flounders 6,673 23.4 +10.4
Conservative Robin Page 5,567 19.5 +9.0
National Front Martin Webster 1,740 6.1 −1.5
Workers Revolutionary W.C. Colvill 183 0.6 New
Socialist Unity R.J. Varnes 153 0.5 New
Majority 7,554 26.5 −29.4
Turnout 28,543 55.5 +2.5
Registered electors 51,436
Labour hold Swing
October 1974 general election: Bethnal Green and Bow
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Labour Ian Mikardo 19,649 68.9 +3.3
Liberal Tudor Gates 3,700 13.0 −6.7
Conservative Christopher Murphy 2,995 10.5 −4.2
National Front W.E. Castleton 2,172 7.6 New
Majority 15,949 55.9 +10.0
Turnout 28,516 53.0 −8.0
Registered electors 53,763
Labour hold Swing
February 1974 general election: Bethnal Green and Bow
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Labour Ian Mikardo 21,371 65.6
Liberal Tudor Gates 6,417 19.7
Conservative Christopher Murphy 4,787 14.7
Majority 14,954 45.9
Turnout 32,575 61.0
Registered electors 53,410
Labour win (new seat)


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 Muslim proportion of the population in the UK.[23]

In 2001 the largest two groups were in the same order, but constituted 46.4% and 35.7% of the population, respectively.[23]


  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. Archived from the original on 5 May 2015. Retrieved 29 January 2015.
  2. ^ "Electorate Figures – Boundary Commission for England". 2011 Electorate Figures. Boundary Commission for England. 4 March 2011. Archived from the original on 6 November 2010. Retrieved 13 March 2011.
  3. ^ "'Bethnal Green and Bow', Feb 1974 - May 1983". ElectionWeb Project. Cognitive Computing Limited. Archived from the original on 3 April 2016. Retrieved 24 March 2016.
  4. ^ "London | Boundary Commission for England". Retrieved 18 April 2023.
  5. ^ "Report of Local Government Boundary Commission for England on Tower Hamlets council website". Archived from the original on 17 July 2014.
  6. ^ "2010 post-revision map Greater London and metropolitan areas of England" (PDF). Archived (PDF) from the original on 3 December 2013. Retrieved 8 May 2013.
  7. ^ London Borough Tower Hamlets – Conservation Areas Archived 2009-07-01 at the Wayback Machine detailed map showing majority of the 58 in the borough are in this area.
  8. ^ Unemployment claimants by constituency Archived 2017-08-02 at the Wayback Machine The Guardian
  9. ^ "Election results – London Borough of Tower Hamlets". Archived from the original on 3 November 2013.
  10. ^ Ajmal For London Archived January 6, 2009, at the Wayback Machine
  11. ^ Leigh Rayment's Historical List of MPs – Constituencies beginning with "B" (part 3)
  12. ^ Tuckley, Will (14 November 2019). "STATEMENT OF PERSONS NOMINATED AND NOTICE OF POLL. The following is a statement of the persons nominated for election as a Member of Parliament for Bethnal Green and Bow Constituency" (PDF). Tower Hamlets London Borough Council. Archived (PDF) from the original on 15 November 2019. Retrieved 15 November 2019.
  13. ^ "Election Data 2017". Electoral Calculus. Archived from the original on 27 January 2018. Retrieved 27 January 2018.
  14. ^ "Commons Briefing Paper 7979. General Election 2017: results and analysis" (PDF) (Second ed.). House of Commons Library. 29 January 2019 [7 April 2018]. Archived (PDF) from the original on 12 November 2019.
  15. ^ "Election Data 2015". Electoral Calculus. Archived from the original on 17 October 2015. Retrieved 17 October 2015.
  16. ^ "Election results for Bethnal Green & Bow, 7 May 2015". 7 May 2015. Archived from the original on 22 August 2016. Retrieved 18 August 2015.
  17. ^ In 2015, the Class War Party announced Duncan Disorderly as its candidate (see "Candidates". Class War. Archived from the original on 14 April 2014. Retrieved 30 January 2015.), but he failed to stand.
  18. ^ "Bethnal Green and Bow". Whig Party. Archived from the original on 9 January 2018. Retrieved 24 March 2015.
  19. ^ "Election Data 2010". Electoral Calculus. Archived from the original on 26 July 2013. Retrieved 17 October 2015.
  20. ^ "Election Data 2005". Electoral Calculus. Archived from the original on 15 October 2011. Retrieved 27 January 2018.
  21. ^ "Election Data 2001". Electoral Calculus. Archived from the original on 15 October 2011. Retrieved 27 January 2018.
  22. ^ "Election Data 1997". Electoral Calculus. Archived from the original on 15 October 2011. Retrieved 27 January 2018.
  23. ^ a b 2011 Census statistics – Neighbourhood Statistics. Table: QS201EW

External links[edit]


  • 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)