CST Blog

On David Ward MP’s whip suspension

19 July 2013

CST shares the concerns of many that the Liberal Democrats two-month whip suspension of David Ward MP has taken too long to occur; and covers a period when Parliament is largely closed.

Despite these reservations, CST welcomes the Party’s decision and thanks Liberal Democrat Friends of Israel for its tireless efforts. In particular, CST applauds Liberal Democrat chief whip Alistair Carmichael, for his comments regarding Mr Ward’s use of language.

The abuse of language is precisely the complaint that CST and others have made about Mr Ward: how he spoke about the Holocaust, Jews, Zionists and Israel. As CST stated at the time of Mr Ward’s initial offensive behaviour, prior to Holocaust Memorial Day:

Here we have someone who has visited Auschwitz in both a personal and professional capacity. The assumption, therefore, must surely be that he is most certainly not an antisemite. So, he is not an antisemite, but what exactly ought we to call a Member of Parliament who makes a crass Jews in Israel equal Nazis comparison?

To be very clear, Mr Ward is certainly not the only person in Parliament who engages with such abusive and dangerous language about Jewish issues. (Indeed, the abuse of such language is why CST now produces its annual Antisemitic Discourse Report, which includes detailed explanations of the antisemitic continuities and impacts of wild anti-Zionist rhetoric.)

The complexity of the challenge faced by Liberal Democrat leaders is partially revealed by media reports. These show how their attempts at achieving a constructive dialogue between Mr Ward and Jewish peers were cancelled in June, after Mr Ward divulged the plans. With few other options and time still dragging, the suspension quickly followed.

The party leadership was right to try and find a constructive outcome. After this could not be found, it was right to suspend the whip.

Regrettably, CST does not expect this to be last of the David Ward controversies.

In January, Jews (and many others) were appalled and disgusted by his apparent drawing together of the Holocaust, Jews and alleged atrocities against Palestinians. Mr Ward denied having meant to make a direct equivalence, but the Jewish outrage at his remarks was entirely genuine. Mr Ward apologised for having caused “unintended offence”. At this point, he had two options: to move on, or to keep digging. As CST explained at the time, not only did he keep digging, he invested in a bulldozer, running an article on “the hounding of David Ward”, that caused us to state:

 ...for all of this rubbish to be brought together in a single article on an MP’s website brings shame upon the Liberal Democrat Party, and upon Ward’s many decent colleagues who keep getting spattered with mud from these issues. So long as this article remains on David Ward MP’s website, he is unfit to serve as a Member of Parliament.

 And so it has continued, up to and including Mr Ward’s tweet about “...Zionists are losing the battle...apartheid Israel”, that came immediately before the withdrawal of the whip. When he returns to Parliament in two months time, Mr Ward has the option to either pick up his career, or to keep trying to destroy it. Jews and Liberal Democrats will hope that he chooses the former option. His actual constituents might hope so too.

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