Suspension of Liberal Democrat MP David Ward is ‘too little, too late’

David Ward

David Ward

The Liberal Democrats have been accused of a “token and empty gesture” after the party removed the whip from MP David Ward for the duration of Parliament’s summer recess.

Mr Ward’s suspension was the result of a disciplinary process which began in January after his accusation ahead of Holocaust Memorial Day that “the Jews” were guilty of “inflicting atrocities on Palestinians”.

The Bradford East MP followed those comments with a series of tweets about his disciplinary case. Last week he asked: “At long last the Zionists are losing the battle — how long can the apartheid state of Israel last?”

The whip was removed as parliament began its summer recess and will be returned on September 13 — just 11 days after MPs return to Westminster.

Board of Deputies vice-president Jonathan Arkush said that while the Lib Dems had “at last taken some action”, the suspension while parliament is not sitting “is too little, too late. It is a token and frankly an empty gesture”.

Lib Dem chief whip Alistair Carmichael announced the removal of the whip after Mr Ward met him, party leader Nick Clegg and deputy leader Simon Hughes last week.

In a letter to Mr Ward, Mr Carmichael said: “We were in unanimous agreement that questioning the continued existence of the state of Israel fails the test of language that is ‘proportionate and precise’.

Mr Carmichael said it was “immensely frustrating” for the party to find itself “constantly responding to questions” about Mr Ward’s comments.

The suspension sparked rumours that Mr Ward would defect and join his neighbouring MP, George Galloway, in the Respect party. Mr Galloway claimed such a move would be “the best way to save his seat…which is what this is all about”.

But Mr Ward told the Bradford Telegraph and Argus that he would “never” leave the Lib Dems.

He did not apologise for making the comments.

Last updated: 1:45pm, July 26 2013