Liberal Democrat leader Tim Farron has sacked David Ward as a candidate declaring him “unfit to represent the party”.
Ward, who lost his seat in Bradford East in 2015, once said “the Jews” were “within a few years of liberation from the death camps…inflicting atrocities on Palestinians”. At the time, the comments caused outcry, and Ward faced disciplinary procedures – later adjourned.
Farron, though, doesn’t intend to revisit this particular episode. After news broke that Ward had been re-selected to stand as a candidate, he initially said it was not the leader’s job to select candidates, but hours later had intervened to stop it.
In a short statement, he 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.”
Although Ward has been involved in anti-racism organisations, he has courted controversy with his conflation of Jews with Israel, his questioning of Israel’s right to exist, and his tweet in the aftermath of the Charlie Hebdo attack, in which French Jews were targeted, that “Je suis #Palestinian”.
While the anti-Semitism row threatened to knock the Lib Dem’s early election campaign off course, Farron’s decision may help him avoid the ongoing saga haunting the rival Labour party. In April, Labour decided not to expel Ken Livingstone for his claim that Adolf Hitler supported Zionism “before he went mad and ended up killing six million Jews”.