A former Liberal Democrat consultant and council candidate has resigned her membership, citing MP David Ward’s latest tweet on Israel as the last straw.
Journalist Charlotte Henry, who consulted for various parliamentary candidates at the last election and was vice-chair of the party’s youth wing, said she “could no longer remain in the Liberal Democrats”.
Ward – who has sparked anger for a series of tweets on Israel and the Holocaust over nearly two years – took to the micro-blogging site in the wake of the Jerusalem synagogue attack that claimed five lives: “Attack by #Palestinians in Jerusalem sickening madness – driven to madness by failure of international community to deal with #Israel.”
Writing on her blog, Henry, who stood in the Child’s Hill ward at the last council elections, said the party’s
handling of allegations against Lord Rennard and “the attacks on those who try and unravel the story, including me, made me realise that the Liberal Democrats are no longer an organisation I wanted to actively be part of”.
But, while she said she hoped to remain close to “wonderful” people in the party, she added: “The continuing presence of David Ward on the Lib Dem benches has long made my stomach turn. He has made repeated comments that I believe are anti-semitic, and received almost no sanction from the party.
“Few party members see any real problems with what he says, some even defending him. Last night was the final straw for me, when he posted another highly offensive comment on social media after the horrific attacks in Jerusalem. Nothing will happen to him, he will remain a Lib Dem MP.
“I cannot be in party that allows people to say the things David Ward has, and to continue unrepentant and unpunished. I cannot be in a party in which the concerns of women are not respected properly.”
The Lib Dem leadership briefly withdrew the whip from Ward over the comments on Israel but no further action has been taken.
While Lib Dem Friends of Israel chair Gavin Stollar described Henry as “principled”, he added: “On this occasion I believe she has got it wrong. The way you infect change is to work within and make your case. That is what I and the many other pro-Israel advocates continue to do within our Party.”
A Lib Dem spokesman said Ward doesn’t speak for the Liberal Democrats on the Middle East and added: “Charlotte is a fiercely independent blogger who writes with passion about politics. We are sad to see her go.
“However, we do not recognise her characterisation of our party. Liberal Democrats are strongly against racism in all its forms, including anti-Semitism.”
They said the party was “appalled and saddened” by the shul atrocity, adding: “There is no justification for the deliberate killing of innocent civilians and we wholeheartedly and unreservedly condemn them.”