Board of Deputies president Marie van den Zyl made a virtual presentation of a lifetime achievement award to one of the Jewish community’s greatest political friends, Andrew Dismore, the former Labour MP for Hendon, at Sunday’s Jewish Labour Movement conference.
In a warm tribute, she said that when Mr Dismore, “a key figure in north London politics for almost four decades”, had announced that he would retire from City Hall politics after the next London elections, “the plaudits he received transcended party lines, with representatives from across the political spectrum praising his contribution to the capital”.
Mr Dismore was first elected to Westminster City Council in 1982, following a strong family tradition of public service — his grandfather, father and mother all served as local councillors. In 1990 he became leader of the council’s Labour group and then in 1997 won the Hendon constituency, a seat he held for the next 13 years.
When he lost his seat in the 2010 election, he spent some time considering his next step before returning to public service as the Greater London Assembly member for Camden and Barnet, the position from which he is now retiring.
Ms van den Zyl told the JLM on-line audience: “Andrew’s reputation as a champion of our community was well earned over many years, but perhaps the most public example of it was his championing of the cause of Holocaust Memorial Day. It was his impetus and drive, in 1999, which saw the Blair government subsequently commit to establishing HMD as a national memorial day in 2001”
Mr Dismore had also played major roles in other campaigns relating to the Jewish community, including “reforming the law to resolve issues concerning Jewish divorce, defending religious slaughter, securing exemptions for Jewish schools in admissions policies and calling for art looted by the Nazis to be returned by British museums and galleries to the families of their original owners”.
The Board president added that Mr Dismore’s “staunch support for Israel over many years in parliament was also greatly appreciated by many in our community. His role as a champion of our community will not be forgotten. On behalf of us all, Andrew – thank you.”
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