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Amina Ali, Apsana Begum, Heather Peto

Three women line up for Poplar & Limehouse

THE LABOUR PARTY is close to announcing who its candidate in Poplar & Limehouse will be at the next General Election – following the announcement by Jim “Dim Jim” Fitzpatrick that he will not contest the seat again.

Campaigning by a number of hopefuls had been going on over the summer, but the hopes of many of them were thwarted last month when Labour declared that the seat would have an all-woman shortlist (AWS). Women were invited to apply to the Party, which then drew up a long list of applicants for a shortlisting panel to consider. That panel, which included national level and local party officers, has now drawn up a shortlist of three candidates.

It is understood that there will be a meeting of local party members on Sunday week (27th October), where the candidates will speak and members will be able to vote on who should go forward as the parliamentary candidate.

The three women on the shortlist are Cllr Amina Ali, Apsana Begum and Heather Peto. Who are they?

•Heather Peto

Little has come out about Heather Peto and why she wishes to stand as a Labour candidate in a seat where she is not well known by local Labour members or community activists. She is perhaps better known by national activists. She was a candidate for the elections to Labour’s ruling body – the National Executive Committee (NEC) – recently, in which contest she was backed by the right wing groups within the Labour Party.
Heather has also associated herself with controversial anti-Corbyn MP Jess Phillips – tweeting after her selection interview that she had been as blunt as the Birmingham Yardley MP. She is the Co-Chair of LGBT+ Labour – a Labour Party section which provides for LGBT+ members to organise together and for all members to promote policies relevant to the LGBT+ community. She is also a great advocate of holding a second referendum on Brexit.
It is hard to see how Peto can escape ending up in third place in the members’ vote.


Cllr Amina Ali

Amina Ali first came to public attention in Tower Hamlets several years ago when, as a very new member of the Labour Party, she was selected to stand as one of Labour’s candidates in the Millwall ward on the Isle of Dogs – only to stand down days later. She was quoted in the local papers saying that she wanted to stand in a winnable seat – which she did not believe was the nature of the Millwall seat. The Labour Party made her a candidate for Weavers Ward instead – but party candidates in Weavers lost the local election.
Amina Ali first came to national public attention when she was selected to stand as Labour’s candidate in Bradford West, against George Galloway MP – only to stand down days later. She told the BBC that she had stood down as it would have been too disruptive to take her children to Bradford for the duration of the election campaign.
Amina was later elected as a councillor for Bow East. She accepted Tower Hamlets She is a member of the advisory Cabinet – initially holding the Culture brief and now as the member for Adults, Health and Wellbeing. As Cabinet posts are in the gift of Tower Hamlets Mayor John Biggs, Members do not usually criticise the Mayor’s polices in public – such as cutting nurseries, spending on schoolchildren with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities, and cutting staff pay.

Apsana Begum

Apsana is better known to local Labour Party members. She was the Secretary of Tower Hamlets Labour Party and, following re-organisation of the Party in the borough, she was until recently Secretary of Poplar & Limehouse CLP. Some members will also recall her father – Cllr Ahmed, who represented Shadwell ward.
Apsana is not a councillor, so her local profile relies more on her work with community organisations trying to resist Mayor John Biggs’s cuts than defence of them. She was an early supporter of the campaign to keep funding for the Community Languages Service (CLS), speaking up for the campaign at public meetings (above) and at the full Council. Following the local Labour Party’s decision to oppose the Mayor’s decision to close the remaining public nurseries in Tower Hamlets, Apsana again joined the community campaign – helping with street petition sessions and speaking at meetings. She even baked a cake for the campaign to present to John Biggs at a barbecue, in the hope of winning him over: sadly, he declined the cake, which had to be shared by the campaigners instead.
Apsana has been a keen advocate of Jeremy Corbyn’s approach to politics – a new kind of politics based on delivering for the many, not the few. She probably has the edge in terms of how she explains the political role of an MP.

Read more about it:
Corbyn calls for aid and talks, not raids and threats
Corbyn under attack: must be an election due

One comment

  1. How can you not know about Heather Peto? Look into why they had to leave Cambridge University. Think there’s a video on You Tube

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