Steve Nimmons
Documentary Photographer and Visual Artist

Token Reprimand for Liberal MP over Holocaust Day Comments

David Ward, Liberal Democrat Member of Parliament for Bradford East has had his party whip withdrawn over comments he made about Israel.

In January, Ward caused uproar when he wrote in the lead up to Holocaust Memorial Day:

Having visited Auschwitz twice – once with my family and once with local schools – I am 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 in the new State of Israel and continue to do so on a daily basis in the West Bank and Gaza.

Ward was in trouble earlier this week after making further comments on Twitter which referred to Israel as an apartheid state.

He was summoned to a meeting with the UK’s Deputy Prime Minister and leader of the Liberal Democrats Nick Clegg and Chief Whip Alistair Carmichael. Ward was sanctioned for using language that was not ‘proportionate’ or ‘precise’. An excerpt from  the letter issued to Ward from the Chief Whip highlights that Party concerns are less with Ward’s opinions and more with his use of language likely to bring the Party into ‘disrepute’.

We want to be clear with you that in this process we are not concerned about your views and opinions on the policies of present or previous  Israeli governments, nor  the situation in the Israeli-occupied territories, nor the strength of feeling with which your views are held. As we have sought to impress upon you repeatedly, we are having to decide on whether language you chose to use in January and February, and now this month, is language which brings the party into disrepute or harms the interests of the Party.

Ward’s suspension has been seen as an empty gesture, given that Parliament is in recess for most of its duration. The whip is due to be restored on September 13th, conveniently in time for Ward to attend the Liberal Democrats Autumn Conference in Glasgow which begins on September 14th.

About the Author
Steve Nimmons is a writer, documentary photographer and visual artist based in Northern Ireland.