Somers Town: Parties are set for a tough race in Somers Town
RESPECT is hoping it can win over the Muslim population in St Pancras and Somers Town this year and poach one of Labour s three seats. George Galloway s anti-war party is running just one candidate in Camden on May 4's election and has chosen
RESPECT is hoping it can win over the Muslim population in St Pancras and Somers Town this year and poach one of Labour's three seats.
George Galloway's anti-war party is running just one candidate in Camden on May 4's election and has chosen Somers Town as its battleground.
Nuruzzaman Hira - known as Mukul - a Bangladeshi Muslim, will stand on May 4.
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Mr Hira, 40, who lives in St John's Wood, has family who work in Somers Town and is well known among the Muslim community.
Maddie Cooper, spokeswoman for the Camden branch of the party, said: "The Muslim community is clearly an audience for Respect as a lot of Muslims feel unhappy about the war. Camden Council can't get away from the fact its government is responsible for the war - it will follow them around even in a local election
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"Our candidate knows Somers Town and he can really respond to local people.
"It is absolutely right to have Muslim candidates in an area where there is clearly a Muslim community"
Mr Hira said: "There are many Muslims in this area and I can relate to them. Many have told me they will support me all the way. I think the Iraq war is the biggest issue, followed by privatisation.
"But I am not just looking to them for votes. I believe in representing all communities. I talk to white people, black people - I talk to everyone. I am not a rich man and many people are not here. The Labour party looks like it is a party for richer people."
Last year Labour won more than 50 per cent of the vote with its three candidates, followed by the Lib Dems with 20 per cent and the Tories with just under 15 per cent.
But this year Labour is running a new candidate, Nural Islam, who takes over from Sybil Shine.
And Respect is not the only party targeting the seat. The Conservatives are running their only Bangladeshi candidate, accountant Abdul Salam, in the ward.
He said: "I live in Somers Town and I know it very well. Respect is making these elections about the war in Iraq but that's got nothing to do with Camden. I don't know what they are doing in local elections, they should look to Westminster or Europe.
"They can get the sympathy vote with ethnic minorities in Somers Town but that is not what a local election is supposed to be about."
Labour councillor Anna Stewart said: "It is Respect's democratic right to put up candidates. We are campaigning hard and have a good track record and we are talking to people about that."