Epping Forest: Election 2010

By Bernard Josephs, April 22, 2010
Pat Richardson

Pat Richardson

The far right British National Party has appointed its first ever Jewish parliamentary candidate.

But Patricia Feldman Richardson, leader of the four strong BNP group on Epping Forest Council, insists that the party is neither antisemitic nor racist. She describes the mainstream Jewish community's hostility towards it as "blinkered" and accuses it of "demonising" BNP policies.

Her campaign has been largely aimed against what her party claims is the growing number of Muslims in the leafy Essex constituency of Epping Forest, including Loughton, Chigwell and Buckhurst Hill.

Mrs Richardson began her career on the right-wing fringe of British politics in 2004 when she shocked the area's Tory-controlled political establishment by winning a seat on the local council.

She represents a ward in Debden, a post-war council estate close to Loughton, the prosperous neighbourhood where she lives, which has a large Jewish community.

Her background - her father was an immigrant from Romania and her London-born mother was of Lithuanian descent - has not served to cool Mrs Richardson's dedication to the BNP's anti-immigration policies.

Indeed, last summer, while strongly denying that party members were responsible for firebombing the home of a Muslim community leader, she told a Guardian reporter: "Firebombing is not a British method. A brick through the window is a British method, but firebombing is not a way of showing displeasure."

The candidate told the JC that she had come across a number of Jewish BNP supporters. As for her immigrant background, she said: "Immigrants these days are given everything, housing and benefits. People like my father had to make their own way. Today Britons are at the back of the queue."

The BNP policies were heavily criticised by other candidates in Epping Forest.

Sitting MP Eleanor Laing, defending a Tory majority of over 14,358, said she was not surprised the BNP had put up a candidate but she was concerned that some "disillusioned Labour voters" would consider voting for it.

"The BNP are divisive and I believe the vast majority in Epping Forest would prefer to see an inclusive and integrated society," she said.

Labour's Katie Curtis described it as "an issue of concern when a candidate from a party based on issues of race and dividing communities is standing".

Last updated: 3:12pm, April 22 2010