Jo Richardson

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Jo Richardson
Chair of the Labour Party
In office
27 October 1989 – 1990
Leader Neil Kinnock
Preceded by Dennis Skinner
Succeeded by Tom Sawyer
Member of Parliament
for Barking
In office
28 February 1974 – 1 February 1994
Preceded by Tom Driberg
Succeeded by Margaret Hodge
Personal details
Born (1923-08-28)28 August 1923
Newcastle-upon-Tyne, United Kingdom
Died 1 February 1994(1994-02-01) (aged 70)
Barking, London, United Kingdom
Nationality English
Political party Labour

Josephine Richardson (28 August 1923 – 1 February 1994) was a British Labour Party politician. At the time of her death she was Member of Parliament for Barking, a post she had held since 1974.

Early life

She was born in Newcastle upon Tyne. She attended Southend High School for Girls. Her father, a sales representative, had stood as a Liberal Party candidate in Darlington during the 1930s, but died while she was still young.[1] Her mother was a member of the Congregational Church.[1]

Despite her intellect, Richardson was unable to afford a university education, which she regretted throughout her life.[1]

Parliamentary career

Joining the Labour Party in 1945, Richardson began her political career as Ian Mikardo's secretary. She co-ordinated the 'Keep Left Group' and went on to become the secretary of the Tribune Group before co-ordinating the Victory for Socialism Campaign. In 1951 Richardson was elected to Hornsey Borough Council and became Mikardo's full-time secretary and working partner in his business which involved trade with eastern Europe. She contested the parliamentary seats of Monmouth in 1951 and 1955, Hornchurch in 1959, and Harrow East in 1964.

She was seen as a peace campaigner on the hard left of the Labour Party. She was a member of the Socialist Campaign Group but resigned in 1988 in protest at Tony Benn's decision to challenge Neil Kinnock for the leadership. She also served as a member of the Shadow Cabinet. She was a central figure of the feminist left and helped to expand women's rights in Britain and was the head of a group of women MPs that supported the anti-pornography position.[2] She was also a pro-choice campaigner.

Richardson also served as an executive member of the National Council for Civil Liberties, during a time in which the Paedophile Information Exchange (PIE), a pro-paedophile activist group, was affiliated with NCCL.[3] Richardson wrote to PIE journal Childhood Rights, saying that she supported their campaign against corporal punishment.[4]

She co-authored the pamphlets "Keep Left" (1947) and "Keeping Left" (1950) with Dick Crossman, Michael Foot and Ian Mikardo.

In 1985 KGB defector Oleg Gordievsky named Richardson and two other left-wing Labour MPs as confidential contacts of his embassy.[5]


Jo Richardson Community School, in the London Borough of Barking & Dagenham, was named in her honour.


  1. ^ a b c "Obituary: Jo Richardson". The Independent. 1994-02-02. Retrieved 2017-05-09. 
  2. ^ Wilson, E., 'Feminist Fundamentalism: The shifting politics of sex and censorship' in Segal, L. And McIntosh, M. (1992) 'Sex Exposed:Sexuality and the Pornography Debate', Virago
  3. ^ The Left's web of shame: It's not just Harman, Dromey and Hewitt - Daily Mail Online
  4. ^ Kennedy, Dominic (22 July 2014). "How paedophiles gained access to establishment by work with the young". The Times. (Subscription required (help)). 
  5. ^ "When the KGB sought seats in the House of Commons" - Daily Telegraph, Accessed 24 August 2014

External links

  • Hansard 1803–2005: contributions in Parliament by Jo Richardson
  • Independent Obituary
  • They Work For You
Parliament of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
Tom Driberg
Member of Parliament for Barking
Succeeded by
Margaret Hodge
Party political offices
Preceded by
Dennis Skinner
Chair of the Labour Party
Succeeded by
Tom Sawyer
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