Barnet Council has denied an HMD snub to the Hendon Labour MP who was one of the prime movers behind the establishment of the commemoration in Britain.
Instead of joining the formal procession of community leaders and other dignitaries at Sunday’s local ceremony, as he has done every year, Andrew Dismore sat in the back in the public area.
For despite assurances from the council and the Mayor, Councillor Brian Coleman, that official invitations had been mailed as usual, he claimed he had not received one. A spokesman for Rudi Vis, Labour MP for Finchley and Golders Green, said that Mr Vis had also not received a postal invitation, but had been emailed three or four days before the ceremony. In the event, ill health precluded his attendance.
A Barnet representative maintained that “invitations were sent to all the borough’s MPs, along with many other special guests, by post on 6 January”.
“I did ask for a copy of the invitation that they sent to me, but so far, it hasn’t materialised,” Mr Dismore said. “They have obviously forgotten that it was my initiative, through my Private Member’s Bill so many years ago, that led to Holocaust Memorial Day being established as part of the national calendar in the first place.
“I am not sure whether it is a conspiracy or a cock-up.” If the former, it was “appalling Barnet Council is so insensitive that they would wish to party-politicise an event of such importance”.
Mr Dismore added that his Tory Parliamentary challenger in Hendon, Councillor Matthew Offord, had taken over as event organiser. Councillor Offord said that “council staff sent invitations to everyone on the civic list — but only Andy Dismore said he did not receive his. He should be aware there is an open invitation, locally advertised, for anyone to attend the event.
“For most people, the most important concern is to reflect upon all those who perished in the Holocaust and to prevent such atrocities ever happening again.”
Over 300 people attended the event at Middlesex University, where former Board of Deputies president Henry Grunwald spoke about the loss of family members in the Holocaust. Jewish choirs also took part.