David Ward sacked by Lib Dems

Mr Ward had intended to stand as a Lib Dem candidate in Bradford East, where he lost his seat at the 2015 election


David Ward, the former Liberal Democrat MP who accused Jews of “inflicting atrocities on Palestinians” has been sacked as a general election candidate by the party.

Mr Ward had intended to stand as a Lib Dem candidate in Bradford East, where he lost his seat at the 2015 election.

Tim Farron, Lib Dem leader, said: "I believe in a politics that is open, tolerant and united. David Ward is unfit to represent the party and I have sacked him."

A disciplinary hearing will take place after the election in June. Mr Ward's party membership has been suspended, meaning he is no longer a Lib Dem councillor in Bradford. The JC understands party polling showed Mr Ward would have beaten the sitting Labour MP and regained the seat for the Lib Dems.

Mr Ward had earlier been condemned by politicians and Jewish groups after it was revealed he had been selected in the constituency.

He was briefly stripped of the party whip in 2013 after using his blog to equate Jewish suffering in the Holocaust with Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians.

Mr Ward had written that he was “saddened that the Jews, who suffered unbelievable levels of persecution during the Holocaust, could within a few years of liberation from the death camps, be inflicting atrocities on Palestinians”.

He subsequently apologised for the “unintended offence” but caused further controversy by asking whether he could make the same remarks again using the term “Jewish community” instead of “the Jews”.

Simon Johnson, chief executive of the Jewish Leadership Council (JLC) said: “The action taken by Tim Farron to sack David Ward as a candidate for the 2017 General Election is the right one and we welcome it.

"The selection of David Ward for Bradford East was an error, and rightly criticised by politicians from all parties. Mr Ward’s views are offensive, and he has been an unrepentant serial offender. It is important that all parties have a zero tolerance approach to antisemitism”.

Alasdair Hill, Hendon Liberal Democrats Candidate, also welcomed the news.

He said: "I am happy that Tim Farron has taken a clear and swift decision to sack David Ward. Intolerance and innuendo has no place in this party or any other.

"I stand for this party because of its steadfast support for all communities and its celebration of all faiths and ethnicity that make Britain a rich and positive place to live."

This morning Mr Farron described Mr Ward’s comments as “offensive, wrong and antisemitic” and said the party would take strong action against antisemitism.

“David Ward has been disciplined in the past and if he or anyone else makes antisemitic remarks in this campaign I will expect the party to act quickly and decisively, as we did when we suspended a candidate in Luton South yesterday,” he said.

Ashuk Ahmed was suspended as a Lib Dem candidate on Tuesday for a series of antisemitic posts on social media.

Mr Farron said: “I am fully aware of the comments David Ward has made in the past and I find them deeply offensive, wrong and antisemitic.

“I think his decision to stand again, and the local party’s decision to select him, is wrong and I disagree with it completely.

“I don't select our individual candidates and nor should I. But let me be clear, I won't tolerate antisemitism in my party.”

During Prime Minister’s Questions outgoing MP Sir Eric Pickles, chair of Conservative Friends of Israel, attacked Mr Farron for failing to tackle antisemitism in his party.

Sir Eric said he was “disgusted” that  a “former MP criticised for antisemitism is the official candidate for Bradford East”.

He called on Theresa May to encourage all parties to adopt the IHRA antisemitism definition.

Mrs May said: “People will be rightly disappointed to see the Liberal Democrats readopt a candidate with a questionable record on antisemitism.

“It is important that all parties remain the strongest possible censure on all forms of intolerance and send that message to our communities.”

A Board of Deputies spokesperson had earlier criticised Mr Ward’s re-selection and said: "It is deeply disappointing to us and very embarrassing for the Liberal Democrats that David Ward has once again been selected."

Karen Pollock, Holocaust Educational Trust chief executive, said: “This is unbelievable. It is beyond parody that someone who has repeatedly expressed antisemitic and deliberately incendiary views would be selected to be a Parliamentary representative by a mainstream political party.

"This is pretty shocking and hugely disappointing.”

Mr Farron last year told the JC  he wanted his party to be a “warm home” for Jews who were alienated by Labour’s antisemitism crisis.

He said he was “very sincere” about the pledge, and said the Lib Dems had learned their lesson from Mr Ward’s case.

"To equate the actions of the Israeli government to the Jewish community and to demonise the community is utterly unacceptable," Mr Farron said.

In May last year Mr Ward had to be reminded of his party’s stance against antisemitism after he backed a Labour MP’s Jew-hate comments.

Following his win in the local elections he tweeted: “Credit to #NazShah for raising important issue of #US support for rogue State of #Israel”.

On Holocaust Memorial Day 2016, Mr Ward tweeted: "#HolocaustMemorialDay theme 'Don't stand by' we must speak out for all - including #Palestinians - who face persecution and discrimination."

On the day of the Westminster terror attack in March, the former MP, blamed the West for PC Keith Palmer’s murder.

He wrote on Twitter that "all terrorist attacks in UK stem from our foreign policy".

He went further on the LBC radio station this morning, by agreeing with Stop the War that Britain has “reaped a whirlwind for Iraq and Afghanistan”.

A Lib Dem spokesman condemned Mr Ward’s comments saying they were “an affront to the victims of the Westminster attack. He absolutely does not speak for the party and we disassociate ourselves completely from his remarks”.

See all our Election 2017 coverage here


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