Labour councillors accused of ‘walking out’ local meeting ahead of IHRA vote

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Labour councillors accused of ‘walking out’ local meeting ahead of IHRA vote

Local officials in Wandsworth voted with their feet ahead of a non-legally binding decision to adopt the international Holocaust Remembrance Alliance definition of antisemitism

Wandsworth Town Hall. Source: WIkimedia Commons. Credit: Eugene Regis
Wandsworth Town Hall. Source: WIkimedia Commons. Credit: Eugene Regis

Several Labour councillors in Wandsworth have been accused of “walking out” of a Council Chamber meeting ahead of a vote to adopt a new definition of antisemitism into the council’s codes of conduct.

The furore, which triggered hostile commentary on social media, came as councillors voted on the non-legally binding International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) working definition of antisemitism on Wednesday night.

Two of Labour’s 26 councillors who voted with their feet were Queenstown representatives Aydin Dikerdem and Maurice McLeod. It later emerged that Jo Rigby of Earlsfield ward left at the same time to attend other matters.  Wandsworth is a Conservative-majority council.

Conservative Cllr Ian Hart of Nightingale ward said it was “shocking” to see the walk-outs, while Conservative Cllr Peter Graham, who represents Wandsworth Common, said it was “shameful,” adding that the three left the chamber “to avoid voting”.

The Council adopted the IHRA definition in October last year, but since then London Councils, the local government association for councils in Greater London, recommended that individual councils include the definition and working examples in their constitutions and codes of conduct.

Voting at Wandsworth’s town hall meeting on Wednesday evening, councillors were asked to approve “amendments to staff and member codes of conduct to make it clear that their provisions should be interpreted as fully adopting the IHRA definition”.

Before the vote, which was recommended by the Council’s General Purposes Committee, led by Graham, Wandsworth’s codes only insisted that staff and members not “discriminate unlawfully”.

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