Dismore backs teaching of Diwali in London schools

At today’s City Hall Plenary meeting Labour London Assembly Member for Barnet and Camden Andrew Dismore AM moved a motion to recognise the importance of Diwali in the lives of Hindu, Sikh and Jain Londoners and the importance of teaching Diwali in London schools.

In moving the motion, Mr Dismore said:

‘Diwali is celebrated by many thousands of Londoners in our Hindu, Sikh and Jain communities, marking the victory of light over darkness.

‘Celebrating Diwali is one of those things that makes London special. The vibrancy, energy, colour and food of a Diwali celebration are always unforgettable. The Mayor is keen to promote the city as open and nothing says that better than Diwali.

‘London’s strength is built upon its historic diversity and multiculturalism, with Diwali celebrations providing a major boost to community relations and integration each year.

‘In these divisive political times, it is extremely important that we celebrate the message of the festival. It is therefore absolutely right that schools in London teach about Diwali.

‘Every child in London should know that they live in a proudly multicultural society, and why their schoolfriends and neighbours are celebrating different festivals like Diwali.

‘However, this may not be the view of all Assembly members. Indeed, one has even written in a pamphlet I have here:

“You bring your children to school and they learn far more about Diwali than Christmas. I speak to the people who are from Brent and they’ve been having Muslim and Hindi days off. What it does is rob Britain of its community. Without our community we slip into a crime riddled cess pool.”

‘The AM concerned may have attempted to apologise for his writings, suggesting

‘if I’ve caused anyone any offence, please don’t take offence’

‘Which is hardly an apology and repudiation of his statements and to suggest that

‘They were wilfully taken out of context’,

‘is clearly wrong as any reading of this pamphlet, and I have read it all, shows those words and the subsequent criticism of those views are very much in context.

‘I was surprised and rather disappointed to read these views, which I am sure are not shared by many in the Chamber today.

‘I believe, and I hope that the majority here also believe, that we should support fully the fact that Diwali and indeed other communities’ festivals are taught in our schools across the capital.’


  • Andrew Dismore is the Labour London Assembly Member for Barnet and Camden
  • The text of Mr Dismore’s motion:

“This Assembly looks forward to Diwali in November this year and recognises the importance of the celebration in the lives of Hindu, Sikh and Jain Londoners. The Assembly notes that the teaching of Diwali has happened in schools for many decades, and is a welcome contribution to community relations, promoting a better understanding of the customs of our friends and neighbours.

This Assembly believes that though we are all different, we are one London, and that our diversity and multiculturalism is a strength. It helps to promote an open and accepting culture, which in turn is what makes us a top destination for trade and business, as well as one of the leading cultural centres of the world.”