Disbelief as BNP enters by-election
RESIDENTS OF a diverse North London borough were shocked this week as a British National Party candidate stood in a local by-election.
The BNP’s Howard Studley is running for the position of councillor against four other candidates — including two Jews and a Muslim — in Canons ward, Harrow, on December 13. According to the 2001 census, Canons is 36 per cent Jewish and 23 per cent Asian and black.
The election is being held after the death of Jewish Conservative councillor and former mayor Janet Cowan.
Gulab Gandhi of Canons Park Newsagent, said: “On this street there are businesses owned by Turkish, Irish, Armenian, Indian, Bangladeshi and Jewish people. I don’t think the BNP would win.”
His colleague Douglas Oxley added: “The BNP must be suicidal to stand here. Finding an ‘English’ person like me is very unusual. I think people will react with disbelief. I definitely won’t vote BNP.”
Local businessman Sailesh Solanki said: “I don’t think the BNP would win, but voter apathy allows them to get in more than anything else.”
Labour candidate and Belmont Synagogue member Richard Harrod told the JC: “What I fear is that not many people will vote, and BNP support will seem bigger than it really is. I want people to get out there and vote, it doesn’t matter for whom, as long as it’s not the BNP.”
Liberal Democrat candidate Anne Diamond — also a Belmont member — said: “I think if we had to place deposits, as with general elections, they [the BNP] would have second thoughts about fielding candidates. Perhaps they are trying to encourage those without political leanings to vote: there have been Jewish BNP candidates in the past. Perhaps they are trying to encourage Jews to become members.”
Conservative candidate Husain Akhtar said: “I think the BNP is just trying to demonstrate its presence. I am sure they won’t win. People in Harrow, especially in Canons ward, are very sensible and fair-minded people. I have confidence in people’s judgment to see what is in the best interest of Harrow.”
BNP press officer Simon Darby said: “Many Jewish people are not supporters of multiculturalism. We have at least one Jewish councillor and dozens of Jewish members, Sikh and Hindu, even one or two Muslim supporters.
“We are trying to contest as many elections as we can. Just because there are many Jews and Hindus in an area is no reason not to contest it. We are a mainstream phenomenon.”