Jewish representatives this week said it was “beyond parody” that the Liberal Democrats had selected the Israel-hating, Jew-baiting former MP David Ward to run for his old seat in Bradford.
The damning indictment, from the head of the Holocaust Education Trust among others, followed news that Ward – who once used his Holocaust Memorial Day message to compare Israelis to Nazis – was back in the political fray.
“This is unbelievable,” said the HET’s Karen Pollock. “It is beyond parody that someone who has repeatedly expressed anti-Semitic and deliberately incendiary views would be selected to be a Parliamentary representative by a mainstream political party. This is pretty shocking and hugely disappointing.”
A Board of Deputies spokesman concurred, saying: “It is deeply disappointing to us and very embarrassing for the Liberal Democrats that David Ward has once again been selected.”
Ward, who represented Bradford East from 2010-15, was warned about his language after the HMD message in January 2013, in which he said he was “saddened… that Jews could, within a few years of liberation from the death camps, be inflicting atrocities on Palestinians in the new State of Israel”.
In July of the same year he was suspended for three months for refusing to apologise for asking: “Am I wrong or are am I right? At long last the Zionists are losing the battle – how long can the apartheid State of Israel last?” Former party leader Nick Clegg described his comments as “crass and insensitive”.
This week, Lib Dem peer Lord Palmer of Childs Hill said he was “disappointed” that Ward was standing, and was still hoping to persuade the party leadership to drop him from the 2017 election list.
“Sadly when Mrs May called a snap General Election it had some knock-on effects, including that sitting Lib Dem MPs and those defeated in 2015 can if they wish get automatic re-selection – that wouldn’t have happened in a 2020 General Election,” he said.
“I have – and am – pressing the party leadership to see that he is not a Lib Dem candidate. Sadly Bradford has had very anti Israel candidates across many Parties… Must be something in the air there!”
Ward was one of dozens of Lib Dem MPs to lose his seat in 2015, but has remained active in local politics, and has continued to make incendiary statements from the side-lines, last month tweeting: “There’s an inexorable end to #Israel as it is – its discrimination, apartheid, colonialism and racism is outdated and unsustainable.”
Announcing that he would once again stand for Bradford East, the local party this week described Ward as a “hard-working campaigner” focused on issues like fuel poverty, community cohesion and school funding.