Corby Tories walk out after Thatcher tribute row

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Conservative councillors walked out of a meeting claiming Labour members were ‘taunting’ them over the death of Margaret Thatcher.

The Conservative Group on Corby Borough Council left the meeting of the full council on Thursday night following the spat.

The meeting began with a minute’s silence out of respect for the former Prime Minister but the silence was attended by just four members of the 22 strong Labour Group, including the Mayor, Deputy Mayor and Leader of the Council. The Conservative and Liberal Democrat Groups attended the silence.

The meeting was then entered by the remainder of the ruling Labour Group, but the Labour members left the meeting again as deputy leader of the Conservative group, Cllr Rob McKellar, began delivering a speech sending condolences to Lady Thatcher’s family and friends.

Cllr McKellar claimed a Labour member then re-entered the chamber wearing a badge bearing a ‘derogatory’ slogan about Lady Thatcher.

Upon seeing the slogan Cllr McKellar, told Conservative members, “This is just sick. We’re leaving.”

Leader of the Conservative group, Cllr David Sims, who was unable to attend the meeting due to other commitments, released a statement saying: “I proposed a minute’s silence and I instructed the deputy leader of the group to make a speech on my behalf. I did this because I wanted to pay respects to somebody who was not just a former Prime Minister, but a mother and a grandmother. A person has died. A human being has died. For the Labour group to act in such a partisan and disrespectful way was extremely disappointing. It was bad enough that they refused to attend the silence and that they entered and left the chamber several times, but to taunt and make fun of somebody who has died was disgraceful.”

Speaking afterwards, Cllr McKellar said: “The only word which properly describes their behaviour tonight is ‘sick’. I am grateful to the Liberal Democrat councillors, and to Labour councillors Rahman, Caine, Beattie and McGhee, who all had the decency to behave in a respectful manner. The rest of the Labour group should hang their heads in shame. When somebody dies you should pay respects and show some empathy for their family, not enjoy the fact that they have died and poke childish fun at it.”

Labour says there was ‘no disrespect’ over Thatcher silence