TORY councillors walked out of a debate on the war between Israel and Hamas – branding their opponents, including one Jewish councillor, “extremists”.

Glasgow’s two Conservative councillors, Thomas Kerr and John Daly, refused to take part in a cross-party debate on the matter on Thursday and instead issued a statement claiming the council was not speaking with “one voice” on the matter.

They have faced accusations of “grandstanding” and failing to “listen to” Jewish Green councillor Leodhas Massie.

In a statement before Thursday’s meeting, the Glasgow Conservatives announced they would not take part in a debate on a motion on the Israel-Hamas conflict put forward by council leader Susan Aitken.

It read: “It is with great disappointment that Glasgow City Council will not speak with one voice on this [conflict] today.

“Other political parties are putting their own interests ahead of coming together as a council.

“That is why the Glasgow Conservatives will not take part in today’s debate.

“We cannot stand idly by and listen to a debate where other councillors peddle their extremist views.

“Some want to use this issue to give themselves a platform rather than focusing on what we are responsible for on a daily basis.

“We make no apologies for taking this stance and we wholeheartedly stand by Glasgow’s Jewish communities at this frightening time for them.”

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Councillors – minus the two Conservatives members – agreed on a composite motion which argued “against extremism” and expressed the city’s “solidarity with everyone affected by the awful ongoing situation in Gaza”.

The Tories faced fierce criticism for their refusal to engage in the debate and for accusing their opponents of “extremism”.

The National:

Jon Molyneux (above), the co-leader of the Greens group, said: "Conservative councillors are within their rights to walk out of a meeting but they have no right to pre-emptively and incorrectly accuse councillors of advancing extremist views without even listening to them speak.

“That is disgraceful conduct. In fact, the council chamber – minus its two Tories – united against extremism, for peace and in solidarity with everyone affected by the awful ongoing situation in Gaza.

"It is also extraordinary for them to claim to stand by Glasgow’s Jewish communities while refusing to listen to or debate with its Jewish councillors.”

Another council source accused the Conservative pair of "grandstanding" and "wanting to make tubthumping points for a very base audience".

Kerr, the leader of the Glasgow Tory group, claimed he had received the backing of the Scottish Jewish Council, something the organisation has since denied. 

He later told The National he had written his statement in haste and the inaccuracy was a mistake. 

Kerr said: “Myself and John did not take this decision lightly.

“I personally reached out to both SNP and Labour councillors to find a consensus. Sadly, they refused to engage.

“We then spoke to Glasgow Friends of Israel and the Scottish Jewish Council, having seen the amendments from other parties, and they supported our move.

“Glasgow Greens and other parties should reflect carefully on their actions and rhetoric today rather than trying to deflect attention away from that with this pitiful attack.”

A spokesperson for the Scottish Council of Jewish Communities said: "The Scottish Council of Jewish Communities has not been approached by Cllr Kerr regarding the motion or the walk out, nor have we endorsed any action."

Glasgow Friends of Israel and the Scottish Jewish Council were approached for comment.