Leicester East: your guide to the 2024 general election

Everything you need to know ahead of polling day on Thursday, 4 July.

Polls open on Thursday, 4 July. Graphic: Surasti Puri / Great Central Gazette
Graphic with 'Leicester East: Voting Guide' overlay on a map and election iconography

Since it was first created in 1973, Leicester East has flipped between a few parties, but is generally considered pro-Labour. Claudia Webbe, the current MP, was first elected to the Labour Party in 2019, but now sits as an independent after being suspended. Although the seat had a 6,019 majority for Labour at the last election, it is widely believed that the race for Leicester East will be close.

Leicester East is home to the Golden Mile, the name given to Belgrave Road, renowned for its authentic Indian restaurants, sari shops and jewellers. Recently, traders have been struggling due to the knock-on effects of the pandemic and the cost of living crisis.

In 2022, a cricket match between India and Pakistan triggered a period of religious and ethnic tension between British Hindus and British Muslims of south Asian origin. However, reports have suggested “Hindutva fascism” was the driving force behind the clashes. Hindutva is a far-right Hindu nationalist ideology. Community cohesion has been in the spotlight ever since, and there are several investigations underway to understand the causes of the unrest.

The constituency saw a large increase in the number of Conservative councillors in the 2023 local elections, upsetting a traditional Labour stronghold. Labour retained its majority on Leicester City Council.

Many Leicester East candidates live nearby, except Labour's Rajesh Agrawal, who's been parachuted in from London. He lives in Harrow, and was until recently the deputy mayor of London for business. He stepped down to run in Leicester East.

Most of the candidates are campaigning around the big issues facing the area: community cohesion, local business, job opportunities, housing, access to green space, and the cost of living. Notably, former Labour MP Keith Vaz is running for the One Leicester party, having previously 'retired' from parliament in 2019. His candidacy has attracted national attention.

What happened in the 2019 general election?

The Labour Party retained the seat after going up against the Conservatives, the Liberal Democrats, the Brexit Party, the Green Party and independent candidate Sanjay Gogia. Labour's majority was significantly reduced by 30.6 per cent to 6,019, down from 22,428 in 2017. In 2019, the Conservatives' Edward Yi He came second. Turnout was 63 per cent.

Boundary changes

Following the 2023 boundary review by the Boundary Commission, the size of Leicester East decreased, with part of Evington ward now sitting in Leicester South.

Who are the candidates?

All candidates below are listed in alphabetical order, as they would appear on the ballot paper. The questions we asked the candidates were chosen by readers. Where candidates did not respond, we have sourced answers from candidates' websites, social media profiles, leaflets, and other election material.

Rajesh Agrawal, Labour Party

Photograph of Rajesh Agrawal smiling at the camera. It is an official portait, with a plain background. He is wearing a suit without a tie.
Labour and the Conservatives are fighting over who's more business friendly using candidiates with strong business backgrounds. Photograph: Labour Party


Rajesh Agrawal is an entrepreneur and philanthropist who was, until recently, the deputy mayor of London for business. He founded two foreign currency exchange firms, both of which went under last year. Agrawal is also active in various charities and was the former chair of Oxfam’s Enterprise Development Programme, a patron of the Prince’s Trust and a former trustee of the Cherie Blair Foundation for Women.

Key policies

  • No increases to existing income tax rates, national insurance or VAT
  • Cut NHS waiting times with 40,000 more appointments a week by paying staff more to work weekends and evenings
  • Create a Border Security Command with counter-terror style powers to stop trafficking gangs and people smuggling
  • Set up Great British Energy, a publicly owned clean energy firm
  • Tackle antisocial behaviour with 13,000 more neighbourhood police and community support officers
  • Recruit 6,500 more teachers
  • Introduce free breakfast clubs at every primary school.

Candidate statement

“Choosing who to vote for in Leicester East has never been more important. And it’s time for a fresh start. Like many in Leicester East, I arrived in the UK with very little. I worked hard and always sought ways to give back.

“It’s not just my experience as a first-generation immigrant, a successful entrepreneur, and former deputy mayor of London that makes me the best choice to represent you — it’s my determination to create a fairer, more equal society for all. My priorities have always been to remove the obstacles to success and get things done.

“I know how to attract national and global investment into our local economy that can create more secure jobs and improve the prosperity of all our communities. I will fight to improve our public services, including the vital access to GP appointments and NHS dentistry that we all need.

“For seven years I served as London’s first Hindu deputy mayor for business, working hand-in-hand with Sadiq Khan, the first Muslim mayor of one of the world’s most diverse cities. You can count on me to promote inclusivity and challenge divisive rhetoric at every turn. Promoting community cohesion will be at the heart of all I do.

“My work will be for the benefit of everyone in Leicester East; I will be rooted in our communities and your voice in Westminster. I would be honoured to receive your vote.”

Q: How will you curb unscrupulous landlords who provide housing not fit for human habitation?


“Every person in Leicester should have access to a good quality home that meets their needs and at a price they can afford. Labour will stand up for renters and build 1.5 million new homes to tackle the housing crisis.”

Zuffar Haq, Liberal Democrats

Photograph of Zuffar Haq, smiling towards the camera. The background is blurred.
Haq has most recently supported SEND parents in their battle against council cuts. Photograph: Zuffar Haq


Zuffar Haq is a councillor for Evington ward. He is a well-known health campaigner, and was previously Chairperson of the Leicester Patient's Group. He was also part of the group which successfully fought to keep children’s heart surgery at Leicester’s Glenfield Hospital. He received an MBE in the 2019 New Year's honours list.

Key policies

  • Introduce free personal care, like nursing at home, in England
  • Offer more support to unpaid carers
  • Give everyone the right to see their GP within seven days
  • Invest in renewable power and home insulation to cut bills and drive a strong economic recovery
  • Ban sewage discharges into rivers and seas
  • Repair the UK’s relationship with Europe
  • Introduce a proportional voting system to elect MPs.

Candidate statement

“Leicester is one of the most diverse, vibrant and compassionate cities, which is where I was born and had the pleasure of growing up, taking advantage of the opportunities our great city once had to offer. Sadly, over the last decade, much of what we have known to be great has been lost, due to lack of investment and poor decisions and planning by central and local government.

“Job opportunities, our NHS, social care, education, and housing have all suffered in our once great city. Investment is vital, creating jobs to support the economy and allow people to be able to afford to feed their families and heat their homes.

“Recruiting more doctors and nurses, allowing people to access NHS services quickly when the need arises. Invest in the education of our children to provide them with the best opportunities possible for their future. Invest more in affordable housing and ensure rented properties are fit for purpose.

“Keep demanding that the government strives for lasting peace in Gaza. There is a real choice in Leicester East for the first time in decades. An opportunity for real change and a brighter future for our city.

“If I become your MP for Leicester East, you will have a strong voice in Parliament. My commitment, hard work, care, and compassion is what I will give to all our communities, in order to make our city great again. We need to work together for a fairer, more prosperous society.”

Q: What will you do to improve community cohesion?


“For as long as I've lived in Leicester, we've been a community that works together and stands together. I, like many of us, have friends and colleagues of different faiths and backgrounds. I want to bring the diverse communities of Leicester back together again.”

Mags Lewis, Green Party

Photograph of Mags Lewis, smiling towards the camera. There are red shutters in the background.
Lewis has been at the forefront of the local Green Party for many years. Photograph: Mags Lewis


Mags Lewis is one of the local Green Party's most prominent campaigners, and has previously challenged Sir Peter Soulsby for city mayor. She is the local party's press and media officer, and contested Leicester South in the 2019 general election. She is a dedicated disability rights campaigner and lives with multiple sclerosis (MS).

Key policies

  • Invest £40bn a year to move to a green economy
  • Introduce a wealth tax on assets above £10m
  • Raise national insurance for those earning more than £50,270
  • Provide 150,000 new social homes a year
  • End the Right to Buy and allow local authorities to introduce rent controls
  • Cut energy bills by improving home insulation and installing low-carbon heating systems like heat pumps
  • Bring railways, water companies and the big five energy firms into public ownership
  • Increase NHS budgets to cut waiting lists
  • Guarantee access to GPs and dentist.

Candidate statement

“I’m a first generation immigrant, who is proud to have lived in Leicester for over twenty years. I am standing because it is clear the people of Leicester East have been let down locally by Labour, and nationally by the Conservatives, who between them have led to the Midlands being ignored and side-lined, with Leicester receiving one of the worst per head investment levels by Government in the country.

“Child poverty levels have soared, with 40 per cent of children in Leicester living in poverty. The Green Party have pledged to end the two child benefit cap, lifting many out of desperation overnight.

“There is a housing crisis, yet Labour have left hundreds of council houses in the constituency to deteriorate for four years, boarded up in Hospital Way. Real change and real hope are only possible through an MP with a national party with a fully costed manifesto, and both Labour and the Tories are offering much the same.

“They both force their MPs to vote along with their party, whatever damage that does for us here in Leicester. The Green Party is not whipped in this way, so I can and will fight for Leicester East.”

Q: How will you improve opportunities and access to work for people with health conditions or impairments?


“We would seek more than lip service and instead be genuinely inclusive by encouraging people to take part. This starts with parliament by allowing job share MPs. This would send an important message that disabled people count and that our input is needed and necessary and valued.”

Khandu Patel, independent

Photograph of Khandu Patel, smiling towards the camera. He is wearing a suit and tie. The image is black and white, and has a plain background.
There are several independents standing in Leicester East. Photograph: Khandu Patel


Patel is one of many independent candidates campaigning in Leicester East, but offers little in the way of information about his campaign. He is currently running a crowdfunder to fund his election bid, which at the time of writing has raised £30 from three supporters. On his Facebook page, he has expressed support for right-wing Indian politicians and has espoused anti-Muslim sentiment.

Key policies

  • Turn back boats in the Channel and send them back to where they originated
  • Protest and cancel the closure of Leicester's M&S store in the city centre
  • Support Israel in the Gaza-Israel conflict
  • Offer an independent alternative to the two major parties
  • Appoint a president with executive and legislative powers in a new constitutional settlement for the UK.

Candidate statement

“I make no apologies as the insurgent candidate. I know my sums as a graduate with B.Sc. Mathematics and a career in the civil service. I know the business of government and politics. I demonstrated the hallmark trait of courage demanded by Plato.

“What is happening to our great country concerns me enough for me to stand. My Hindu family came to the UK less as immigrants but to a new home and made most welcome. I believe this is the sentiment of Hindus. It irks us that the country has been hijacked with the goings-on in Gaza and the general state of disorder.

“This election takes place with confidence at the lowest ebb in British politics. The Conservative Party is the agent of its own self-destruction. In its arrogance, it is heading for a car crash. The Labour Party, the substitute player in our parliamentary democracy in a losing match, cannot turn the game round.

“The country feels it has only bad to worse choices. There is an absolute need to revisit the political and constitutional settlement. Your vote can powerfully send the message of Vote Change that it cannot be business as usual.

“One thing I am absolutely clear about. Those people picked up illegally crossing the English Channel will not be disembarked in the UK but landed back to from where they originated. The Labour Party’s Border Force Command is meaningless, it is subjected to the king's regulations.”

Q: Given the importance of migrants and their descendants to Leicester's economy and culture, what are your views on the fact the major parties are fighting this election on the basis that immigration is a bad thing?


“The Conservative Party should smell the coffee and go beyond headline management that it is tough on migrant refugees. Nordic countries, wealthier in comparison, have u-turned on their easy migration policy to the toughest. The UK, with its finances and public services in tatters, still pursues a policy of demographic growth by its easy refugee policy. This is a policy founded on low skilled, benefits seeking migrants who are in no position to contribute to the public finances but only to their detriment.”

Shivani Raja, Conservative Party

Photograph of Shivani Raja. She is smiling towards the camera, holding an ice cream and Conservative Party leaflet. There is a fence in the background. She is dressed in blue, the Conservative Party's colour.
Raja has been one of the most visible candidates in Leicester East, with a strong social media presence and large campaign banners down Belgrave Road. Photograph: Conservative Party


Shivani Raja is an alumnus of De Montfort University and has “extensive management experience in consumer product development and multinational companies” and now “runs a business that serves Leicester and Leicestershire,” according to the party. She has recently campaigned in Leicester city for the re-elected police and crime commissioner, Rupert Matthews, and before her candidacy was announced she had been supporting Leicestershire Conservative prospective parliamentary candidates on their campaign trails.

Key policies

  • Cut another 2p off National Insurance by April 2027
  • Raise minimum pensions in line with inflation
  • Introduce mandatory National Service for 18-year-olds
  • Raise defence spending to 2.5 per cent of national income by 2030
  • Send asylum seekers to Rwanda to deter illegal Channel crossings
  • Introduce an annual cap on the number of migrant visas
  • Increase NHS spending above inflation every year
  • Recruit 28,000 more doctors and 92,000 more nurses.

Candidate statement

“I’m Shivani Raja, proud to be first-generation British, born and raised in Rushey Mead. My parents arrived from Kenya and India to the UK in the late 1970s. Their story is one of hard work and dedication, contributing to their new community while preserving our rich cultural heritage.

“Growing up, I attended Herrick Primary School and Soar Valley College before completing my education at De Montfort University. The strong foundation my parents and this city provided has fuelled my passion for public service and community development.

“I understand the unique challenges that Leicester faces. I am deeply committed to unlocking the immense potential of our diverse city. I believe in bringing innovative leadership that unites all communities, especially those that have been overlooked for far too long.

“After decades of Labour leadership, we've seen local industries decline, businesses close, and young talent leave the city in search of better opportunities elsewhere. I am determined to change this.

“As a local resident, I genuinely care about our city and our neighbourhoods. I share the same frustrations and hopes as everyone across Leicester. I promise to bring fresh perspectives and practical solutions to the table.

“By placing your trust in me, you will have someone who prioritises our community, promotes job creation, and nurtures a future where our youth can dream and thrive right here in Leicester. I am dedicated to making Leicester a place of opportunity for all, driven by a vision that is as inclusive as it is ambitious.”

Q: Will you work to implement new schemes that aim to prevent young people from turning to crime?


“One of my key proposals is the development of state-of-the-art youth centres in Thurnby Lodge, Troon, and Netherhall. By investing £3.5 million, we can modernise these centres to create safe, inspiring, and resource-rich environments for our young people.”

Keith Vaz, One Leicester

Photograph of Keith Vaz, smiling towards the camerar. He is wearing a suit and tie. The background is plain white.
Vaz has evaded scandal after scandal. Photograph: Keith Vaz


Keith Vaz is the former Labour MP for Leicester East and a veteran politician. He announced at the end of 2019 that he was retiring from politics following his involvement in a sex and cocaine scandal, but has remained active in his constituency ever since. He is now campaigning for One Leicester, a localist party set up by former assistant mayor, Rita Patel.

Key policies

  • Put the people of Leicester first instead of following the 'party line'
  • Fight the cost of living crisis with an economic plan that backs hard-working people, raise the living wage to provide further job security
  • Support the reintroduction of energy grants and discounts
  • Fix our broken NHS and fight for universal dental care for all
  • Invest in green energy and increase windfall tax of energy companies, protect green spaces
  • Push for more police officers on the streets, reverse the cuts to youth services and invest more in young people
  • Introduce a house-building plan that is sustainable, green and quick
  • Withdraw arms sales to Israel and work towards an end to the war in Gaza
  • Create effective global partnerships to support those fleeing war, poverty, and famine
  • Create a social care system that empowers local people to live full, long and happy lives.

Candidate statement

“It was the greatest privilege of my life to serve as your MP for 32 years. I love Leicester. Today I am shocked by what I see.

“Despite so many opportunities, Leicester is unrecognisable and on the edge of bankruptcy. Instead of being a City of the Future, it has become a city of closed high street shops, traffic congestion, areas of crime and over 6,000 people on the housing waiting list.

“The Labour mayor announced he will close the celebrated Leicester Market at its current location and move it elsewhere and has threatened the funding of our most famous event, the Diwali Lights Switch On. Are the Christmas Lights next?

“Millions of taxpayers’ money has been spent on international wars. It is deplorable that both the Tories and Labour have identical policies on Gaza, where thousands have been killed.

“Leicester East needs someone with experience, dedication and a strong voice who will fight for you. My job has always been to listen, act and get things done.

“Many people have urged me to stand again. I have decided to do so and accept the nomination of One Leicester to be their candidate for one more term. I promise to put Leicester first and party politics second.

“The only people who matter now are you and your family. We cannot stand by and watch the slow decline of our great city and country. We must take action now. Please help me and One Leicester take the country and city forward.”

Q: What practical and actionable steps will you take to build more housing, while balancing that commitment with preserving heritage and green space?


“Thurnby Lodge is sometimes referred to as the forgotten estate… We have to preserve the quality of this estate. It's such a lovely place to live. And that means opposing the building on places like this — open spaces which are here for the community. I pledge to do this.”

Claudia Webbe, independent

Photograph of Claudia Webbe, smiling towards the camera. She is wearing a red coat and standing on Belgrave Road in the evening. The street lights are on. There is a bus in the background.
Webbe has attempted to rebuild her image after being convicted of harrassment. Photograph: Claudia Webbe


Claudia Webbe is currently serving as an independent MP, having previously been a member of the Labour Party before being suspended after being found guilty of harassment in a widely publicised trial. In 2019, Webbe was parachuted into the constituency from Islington, and was a key supporter of Jeremy Corbyn when he was leader of the Labour Party. She is campaigning as a left-wing independent but is backed by George Galloway's Workers Party of Britain.

Key policies

  • Introduce a minimum wage of at least £15 per hour for everyone
  • Reverse benefits cuts under the Conservative government
  • Bring rail, water, mail, and energy back into public ownership
  • Demand mass council house building and rent controls
  • Restore the NHS to a fully funded public service
  • Bring in a wealth tax to help fund the NHS
  • Build an immigration system that provides safe routes for refugees and asylum seekers
  • Vote against all wars and conflict.

Candidate statement

“Fourteen years of Conservative cuts, including five years, in coalition with the Liberal Democrats have damaged and ravaged our economy, our communities and public services. Labour is in lock-step with the Tories, offering no investment, no reversal and no real change. People are sick of the pro-privatisation, pro-cuts, pro-billionaire consensus.

“We need a firm break from the current political consensus. I am born and bred here and will be a strong, fearless, independent voice for real change. My independence means I’ll listen to the people of Leicester East and put them first and not be held hostage to a party whip or serve narrow party agendas nor corporate donors.

“I stand for principled politics and will always speak truth to power. I’ll work to tackle real issues affecting our community, from low pay and exploitation in the garment industry, the demise of our high streets and closure of local services.

“I’ll also strive to end the privatisation of our NHS, champion the need for a national care service, invest in our children and young people, tackle the climate emergency, tackle homelessness and speak out for justice for Palestine, calling for a lasting, permanent ceasefire in Gaza. Ours is not just a class struggle. Ours is a humanity struggle.

“With passion, integrity and dignity, I will be that independent voice for Leicester East, I’ll demand real change, true justice and a reversal of the inequality that has enriched a few, while the many struggle.”

Q: What will you do to encourage more people to use greener transport?


“The most important thing, if we want people to use greener transport and public transport, is to vastly increase availability and radically reduce cost. Public transport must be publicly owned and run for the public good, not for profit; safe cycle lanes should be on every road and fares should be capped so that individuals and families can travel as conveniently and economically by train, bus or bike as by car. National government must invest hugely in the development of transport technologies that are genuinely green and don’t just move pollution from the user location to, for example, a battery production site.”

Also running for the seat are independents Malihah Adam and Nags Agath, and Raj Solanki for Reform UK. We did not receive statements from the remaining candidates by the publication deadline.

Who's most likely to win?

Alistair Jones, associate professor in politics at De Montfort University, said:

“This constituency will be tight. There are ten candidates, including two ex-Labour MPs for Leicester East, the actual Labour candidate, a Conservative and an ex-Conservative standing, as well as Reform UK. This fight is not just Labour vs Conservative, but it is also about Keith Vaz and his desire to return to frontline politics. The result is likely to be too close to call. Expect demand for recounts. Zuffar Haq, Liberal Democrats, will squeak through on a minuscule majority.”
Former MP Keith Vaz to stand in Leicester East
Former Leicester East MP Keith Vaz is running for his old seat in the general election. Vaz today announced his candidacy for the seat, challenging his successor Claudia Webbe.

How do I vote?

You can cast your ballot in person between 7am and 10pm on Thursday, 4 July. You need to bring a form of photo ID to vote in person.

If you are not sure who to vote for, you can use our free, impartial voting advice tool to see how your views match what the parties are proposing. 

If you do not like any of the candidates, you can spoil your ballot in protest, which will register your disapproval of the available options.

You find your polling station, examples of photo ID, and our voting advice tool on our website here.

General Election 2024
Find your candidates, polling station, key dates, previous general election results, and more.

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