David Ward removed as a candidate

Controversial former Bradford East MP David Ward has been removed as a candidate by Tim Farron. He had been re-selected as candidate for the seat and earlier in the day Tim Farron had said that he was not in a position to be able to remove him.

I am fully aware of the comments David Ward has made in the past and I find them deeply offensive, wrong and anti-Semitic. I think his decision to stand again, and the local party’s decision to select him, is wrong and I disagree with it completely.

I don’t select our individual candidates and nor should I. But let me be clear, I won’t tolerate anti-Semitism in my party.

A few hours later, some constitutional geekery had clearly been done because Tim released the following statement about an hour ago:

I believe in a politics that is open, tolerant and united. David Ward is unfit to represent the party and I have sacked him.

This came after Theresa May had had a go at David Ward’s record at the final PMQs of the Parliament.

Our understanding is that there have been some resignations of party members in Bradford as a result of this.

This post will be updated as further details emerge.

UPDATE: We were keen to learn more about the process that had been used and a party spokesperson gave us this statement:

The Leader made the decision in consultation with the Chairs of the Regional Parties Committee and the Candidates Committee who hold the relevant powers set out in the constitution, and wrote to David Ward. This communication was followed later in the day by the chairs of the relevant committees.
 The decision to remove David Ward as a candidate was made under section 18.3 of the Federal Party Constitution and Article 7.7 of the English Constitution.
 The decision to suspend David Ward’s membership was taken by the Regional Parties Committee under sections 2.6(a) and (b) of the English Party Constitution and section 7.5 of The English Liberal Democrat Membership rules.


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  • nigel hunter 26th Apr '17 - 4:00pm

    It would seem to me that if the Lib Dem’s have any weaknesses, they will be exploited. It happened to Tim over ‘sin’ here is another.

  • nigel hunter 26th Apr '17 - 4:01pm

    h! It also means to me we have arrived on the political sphere and are a threat to the status quo.

  • paul barker 26th Apr '17 - 4:06pm

    I said we should have thrown him out the last time his views came up, this was the right thing to do & I am glad it was dealt with so swiftly.
    I am sorry to hear that some members have resigned but principles must come before personal loyalties.

  • Ian Patterson 26th Apr '17 - 4:08pm

    Only sensible course, nothwithstanding its delivery. It would have hobbled our campaign in the constituency.

  • Tony Dawson 26th Apr '17 - 4:08pm

    Prompted by that well-known Liberal and Democrat Eric Pickles, apparently. 🙁

    I supported the decision over Ashuk Ahmed in Luton yesterday, however, this one appears to be more than a little knee-jerk.

  • Shame the issue even came up, sorted now.

  • Matt (Bristol) 26th Apr '17 - 5:18pm

    Worried by the leader-as-dictator language, happy with the result.

  • Alan Depauw 26th Apr '17 - 6:16pm

    To refer to Jews when criticising Israeli government policy is dog-whistling. Not in my party. Thank you Tim, for acting decisively.

  • Ruth Bright 26th Apr '17 - 6:43pm

    Derek Wood – look at his recent contributions on twitter, it went way beyond mere criticism of Israel. He spoke of Israel’s “inexorable end”.

    Re the “leader as dictator” stuff. It is about time we toughened up – particularly on what councillors can get away with saying. A few weeks ago I received (six years late, but nonetheless very welcome) an apology from my local party for an e-mail tirade I had received from a Lib Dem parish councillor where he use racist terms about East Europeans and Roma, travellers and gypsies. When I first complained I too was told that we didn’t want a party where the leadership can expel people. I do actually!

  • Could someone please tell me what David ward has said / done that is so wrong?

  • david – Regardless of whether or not you are agree with things that the state of Israel or its armed forces do, they are not being done by ‘the Jews’. In the same that a terrorist attack isn’t being done by ‘the Muslims’.

  • Things seem to happen in threes: is there yet something else?

  • @Ian Patterson:
    You think, after this, the Liberal democrats have any chance whatsoever in the constituency? (I admit some familiarity with the territory, having delivered somewhere north of 5,000 lib dem leaflets for the 2010 election).

    I’m wondering what the effect on the council elections will be too… David Ward being a serving councillor, and the serving Lord Mayor and Deputy mayor both being LD councillors too (and the former being a regular poster on this forum).

  • The media always look for targets to focus negative and destructive comments. Two targets in quick successon show that the nature of this period of campaigning will need everyone of us to be simple, clear and direct – to avoid own-goals. Nothing weak about a fast response to correct an issue and move on btw. Well done Tim and his team.. Best wishes.

  • Was David re-approved as a parliamentary candidate post 2015? This is welcome and overdue – but not sure what has changed in the last 24 hours other then it being public. Hopefully someone will take a long look at the record of Yorkshire and Humber regional party being unwilling to act against people making racist comments.

  • I don’t know what he has said or done but I agree that you have to be very careful not to confuse anti-zionism or criticism of Israel and anti-Jewish behaviour. In speaking up you have to remember that Al Jazeer (perhaps not most unbiased source) documentary where Michael Rubin said akin to all Israel criticism was on the road to anti-jewish statements – clearly a wrong and biased but influential and a representative of Jewish youth politics – but equally you can have those wishing to criticise Israeli policy but crossing-over into unsavory and hurtful remarks.

    I wouldn’t be completely (if done sensibly) criticising Israeli people for Israeli foreign policy. Who exactly has voted for these politicians to be able to take this action? I expect UK citizens to be criticised for the UK’s failures to disabled people as reported by the UN and don’t see any difference.

  • Good, you can be anti some Israeli actions without stooping to the level he has repeatedly sunk to. Likewise you can also support the rights of Palestinians and still condemn the likes of Hamas. Time for the so called “Friends of…” groups to be dropped. They really end up being “Enemies of…”

  • Ian Patterson 26th Apr '17 - 8:21pm

    @TonyH. I do not know Bradford East much, but this has blown now rather than after Nominations closed.

  • I tend to agree with Derek Wood regarding the main cause of the terrorism happening in the West and remember expressing a similar thought on the day of the attack on the twin towers.
    It appears that David Ward has used unacceptable language but it is worrying, in the context of the concerted attempts by Israeli Zionist supporters to gag any criticism of the Israeli government by redefining it as antisemitism, that we are not getting more robust opposition to Israeli oppression of Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza occupied territories from our (LD) parliamentarians.
    To get a balanced view of what is actually happening in Palestine I would recommend reference to the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) website section for occupied Palestinian territory: http://www.ochaopt.org There you can find regular updates on the plight of the Palestinians and ample evidence to uphold the description of Israel as an Apartheid state.

  • nvelope2003 26th Apr '17 - 9:09pm

    Simple clear and direct ?

  • Mick Taylor 26th Apr '17 - 9:17pm

    There are no council elections in Bradford this year

  • Good move, if there is any hint of doubt, best to get these issues sorted straight away.

  • Peter Watson 26th Apr '17 - 9:36pm

    @Tony Rowan-Wicks “Nothing weak about a fast response to correct an issue and move on btw.”
    This seems to be about comments made by David Ward in the past and is 6 months after “Mr Farron said David Ward, who was suspended by the Lib Dems in 2013 after questioning the continued existence of the state of Israel, had “served his time” and therefore had a right to put himself forward for positions in the party.”(http://jewishnews.timesofisrael.com/tim-farron-backs-david-ward-return-hes-served-his-time/)
    This is being reported as a reaction to Theresa May’s criticism rather than a “fast response to correct an issue”, and it does look “weak”. Strong leadership could have been shown by making sure it didn’t get to this point or by sticking to his position in October.

  • I was forgetting, most of Bradford isn’t voting in the local elections, just my own ward, in a by-election.

  • Richard Fagence 26th Apr '17 - 10:12pm

    There are still people in this party who equate anti-Israeli as anti-Semitic. That is a false equation. The word ‘semitic’ would include all Arab peoples and, as one who spent nearly seven years happily working in an Arab country, I do not regard myself as ‘anti-semitic’. I am, however, profoundly anti-Israeli, and have been for years as a result of their on-going campaign against the Palestinian people and their legitimate rights of abode in their native lands. The seizure and clearance of Palestinian lands for Israeli settlements should be acknowledged as the international crime that it is. The continual refusal of the Israeli government to abide by United Nations resolutions and its abuses against the ethnic Palestinians is a scandal. Gaza has now become the world’s largest open-air prison camp. David Ward’s suspension from the party and exclusion as a candidate is further evidence that the Israeli lobby within this party has a great deal of influence. That it should produce a knee-jerk reaction to the statements of the ludicrous Eric Pickles is bad enough, but to lambast a serious critic in the way it has is shameful.

    So what next? Am I to be suspended after over fifty years’ membership of this party and its predecessors for my views? Is the Liberal Democrat Friends of Palestine to be removed as a SAO? Frankly, at the moment nothing would surprise me. It is time that we concentrated on being the opposition that Tim keeps saying we are and stop giving the media house bricks to throw at us.

  • Matt (Bristol) 26th Apr '17 - 11:36pm

    Theakes – look at Buckingham.

  • Lorenzo Cherin 26th Apr '17 - 11:39pm

    Twice in as many or few contributions I agree with the sensible Ruth !

    David Ward , as with our earlier candidate alluded to this week , should be expelled.

    He should not have been selected due to his not being in the party if he had been found guilty already of saying things in a manner offensive to a racial group.

    It is suspension for the offence that has got the Labour shambles where it is on Livingston.

    Racism is unacceptable.

    That is what has to be the case.

    Tim led . He did so twice .He needs to on such things.

  • Dear All, The sacking of David Ward is very unfair. There has been a conflation of being anti-Semitic (Palestinians are Semitic people) with being anti-Jewish. All forms of racism should be condemned – and that includes discrimination against people because of their colour, creed, race or gender. The current Israeli Government continues to build illegal settlements for settlers only built on stolen Palestinian land. These settlements are accessed by settler only roads. Why does not Tim Farron specify that settlements are immoral. There are over 150 UN Resolutions including UN Security Council Resolutions 476 and 478 which condemned Israel’s “eternal claim” to Jerusalem as NULL and VOID. The International Court of Justice, the UN and EU condemned Israel’s monstrous 700 km “wall” as illegal and demanded its removal. The EU have Settlement Guidelines and Settlement Labelling – obviously Tim Farron supports this. Palestine is a UN non-member STATE and has bilateral relations with 136 nations as well as is registered by 54 UN Agencies. Israel rejects Palestine’s right to exist and rejects the 1967 borders. People within Mr Netanyahu speak openly about annexing Palestinian Territory. If it is wrong to deny Israel’s right to exist then it is equally wrong to deny Palestine’s right to exist.

  • Philip Rolle 26th Apr '17 - 11:56pm

    Tim Farron surely has done the right thing here.

  • David Pocock 27th Apr '17 - 12:39am

    Can the party pls get on with the election and stop scoring own goals. Thanks.

  • Steve Comer 27th Apr '17 - 8:24am

    “Can the party pls get on with the election and stop scoring own goals.”
    Agreed! lets hope there are no more ‘Bath and Yeovil’ seats amongst those on the target list.

  • @Ant Aloy
    The person most guilty of any conflation between criticism of Israel and that of Jewish people is Mr Ward himself. Let’s not forget he used the phrase “the Jews” to refer to Israeli government activity. I find myself distrusting those who become polarised in this particular conflict. Hamas as a governing party and Israel as a sovereign state have both committed acts that Should be classed as War Crimes / Crimes against humanity.

  • This is a weak move, and shores up Theresa Mays contention that she is a strong leader – she is so strong she can have a Lib dem candidate removed. However, I don’t see that Tim had any choice, to save this issue dominating the campaign. I do not agree with this hounding of David Ward though and labelling him as a racist. He is one of an ever diminishing number of people to speak up for oppressed Palestinians. Worrying for free speech, too. He is in no way a racist.

  • It ain’t what you say, it’s the way that you say it. Unforunately, making serious points when criticising either side need moderate language and careful use of the correct terms. We shouldn’t be afraid to discuss the issue, but never, ever use inflammatory words and language. That is why he had to go.

  • Richard Fagence

    I assume you would have no concern with David Ward being removed due to being “Anti-Jewish” and your concern is simply a matter of your preferred linguistics?


    “you have to be very careful not to confuse anti-zionism or criticism of Israel and anti-Jewish behaviour”

    I would suggest you don’t confuse “anti-zionism” with “criticism of Israel” Zionism is simply the belief in protecting the right of Israel to exist. We used to criticise “extreme Zionism” such as the man who killed Yitzhak Rabin for starting a process that would return the occupied territories. It always looks suspicious when the extreme gets dropped it looks like more linguistic activism of just muddying the waters to make discussion more difficult and polarising people easier. Anti-Zionism is presumably wanting the destruction of the state of Israel, fine if that is your stated objective but I don’t see many being keen to say so.

  • Robert Smith 27th Apr '17 - 10:49am

    I’m not sure it was the right decision, he isn’t anti-semitic just a firm criticiser of Israel and the appalling way it treats the Palestinians. It’s sad he had to go but perhaps expedient.

  • @ Peter Watson
    Exactly, and from all of us – no exceptions. Now we must move on rapidly and work even harder.

  • Phyllis. The problem was never that David Ward is a racist. Rather that his continued use of ‘the Jews’ when he meant the Israeli government and his refusal to listen to his friends who repeatedly urged him to stop doing so. This crass and insulting language meant as well that the points he was trying to make were lost and the insults became the news. When your language becomes the message, rather than what you are trying to say, it’s time to stand down.

  • Michael Meadowcroft 27th Apr '17 - 1:28pm

    Aspects of the David Ward affair worry me. First, I know him very well and, indeed, recruited him some thirty-five years ago, and he is definitely neither racist nor anti-Semitic. Second, he was deeply affected by what he observed on a visit to Gaza and spoke movingly on it on his return, expressing only criticism of Israel and not of Jews as such. Any lobbyist should meet him and discover David’s sincerity and beliefs. Third, he should have chosen words more carefully, however, Israel does define itself a Jewish state and is, sadly, vulnerable to a dangerous conflation of terms, however unjustified. Fourth, I can find no record of any statement on the issue from David later than 2014. He was disciplined at the time, the Whip was restored, and he was an official candidate at the 2015 election. He is also a current official Bradford City Councillor. Unless there are more recent statements – and it is certainly necessary to have them published for the leader and the party to justify their decision in 2017 – I have grave concerns about the process. Fifth, it is disturbing that the decision was taken following a challenge from Eric Pickles, backed by Theresa May, rather than as a consequence of any process from within the party. I assume that there is an appeal process and that David uses it. It would be much better to have a full exposure of the evidence relied on for the action and of David’s case.

  • Matthew Huntbach 27th Apr '17 - 2:00pm

    Whatever the issue, it is FUNDAMENTALLY against liberal principles if it really is the case that the leader of the party can unilaterally stop someone being a candidate. The job of the leader of the party is NOT to be a dictator. There must be proper internal democratic systems to do things like this.

  • Andrew McCaig 27th Apr '17 - 2:18pm

    Steve Way,
    I don’t want to get too involved in this argument but would just point out that the person who most often conflates “Israel” with “the Jewish People” is the Israeli Prime Minister. Perhaps he should watch his words more carefully!

  • The main cause of the current wave terrorism in the West is not Israel. The 9/11 attacks were inspired directly by the extended presence of American troops in Saudi Arabia after the first Gulf War. After that it was a mixture of religious fervour and one of the consequence of destabilising countries through “regime change”, amongst the most pernicious ideas to enter international politics after “the End of History”.

  • Ant Aloy

    “All forms of racism should be condemned – and that includes discrimination against people because of their colour, creed, race or gender”

    Racism is not discrimination based upon Gender.

    This does have a feel of ism/phobia top trumps, playing linguistic tricks to excuse the inexcusable.

    People should be treated equally and not on the basis of irrelevant characteristics. Anti-religious bigotry also bad and just because you don’t like the linguistic expression of criticising that doesn’t invalidate the fact the David Ward was in the wrong. I see this approach used to excuse bigotry towards Muslims and Jews, it doesn’t wash. It is not what you chose to include in a label of what is bad that matters it is the unfair treatment. Ward may or not be racist/a religious bigot, it isn’t relevant, as others have said, he was advised about how to moderate his language to ensure he was clear about who the target of his criticism was, he chose to ignore this.

    If you think that David Ward was unfairly treated, would you perform the same mental gymnastics if the target was a different minority?

  • Ruth Bright 27th Apr '17 - 7:46pm

    Michael Meadowcroft – his most recent comments on the “inexorable end of Israel” were on Twitter March 24.

  • nvelope2003 27th Apr '17 - 8:16pm

    Gladstone attacked our Turkish ally for committing atrocities in Bulgaria. Lloyd George supported the Boers of South Africa when Britain went to war with them. These things did not make them popular but people respected them for standing up for a just cause.
    The Liberal Democrats might win the odd by election, council seats and gain a few MPs at a General Election but they will never amount to much unless they again espouse radical policies and that means risking upsetting people. When was the last time this happened ?

    Supporting the status quo will lead nowhere, except extinction.

  • Michael (Meadowcroft), as usual, makes a powerful and persuasive case, and I know him to be a man of deep sincerity and integrity. I cannot say the same for Pickles.

    Due process should always be followed and knee jerk politics usually end in tears. Remember also that justice delayed is justice denied.

  • I had a look on his twitter and I can see why his tweets might cause offence but I’m struggling to see anything hateful.

    “There’s an inexorable end to #Israel as it is – its discrimination, apartheid, colonialism and racism is outdated and unsustainable”

    Strong views perhaps but not indefensible.

  • Mick Taylor 27th Apr '17 - 9:58pm

    Both David Raw and Michael Meadowcroft need to get the facts. It is perfectly legitimate to attack the actions of the state of Israel and the actions of the Arab States in financing attacks on Israel and the actions of the Palestinians in attacking civilian sites with rockets. I would not have been critical of David if he had done any of those. Sadly, that’s not what he did, despite many people, myself included, pleading with him to have a care with his language and to clearly distinguish between the state of Israel and “The Jews”. It is his refusal to use appropriate language and to continue to attack “Jews” en masse that is why he cannot be allowed to run as a candidate. He had the chance, many times, to alter his behaviour and chose instead to ride roughshod over his friends and fellow Liberal Democrats. I don’t criticise his views, I criticise his total lack of judgement and his use of inflammatory language. He has only himself to blame for the outcome.

  • The Palestinians have had their homeland taken from them by others. Why would they find this acceptable and why would they not want to reverse this position ? How do you remove an occupying power except by force, if the occupier refuses to leave ?

  • nvelope2003 28th Apr '17 - 4:21pm

    Philip Rolle: No he has not.

  • A Social Liberal 28th Apr '17 - 8:20pm


    If the terrorists amongst the Palestinian peoples wished to take on the Israeli military then fine. The military is there to give and take violence in defence of the state.

    But they do not, their target is instead the innocents, the ordinary people, those who are not as able to defend themselves. This is both deplorable and wrong

  • Matthew Huntbach 29th Apr '17 - 9:12am

    I do not want to be in a party led by someone who thinks he has absolute control over it, and a party which accepts that mentality. What I have read here, unless it is corrected and it was not really a dictatorial decision by The Leader, is seriously affecting me in deciding whether I will want to put some active effort in campaigning for the Liberal Democrats in this election.

    That is absolutely regardless of whether what David Ward said was acceptable or not.

  • A Social Liberal: I deplore as much as anyone terrorist attacks on innocent people. It is not possible for the Palestinian Authority to take on the Israeli Army and everyone must know that. It would be utterly wrong to compare the Israelis to the Nazis but resistance in occupied countries would be completely ineffective without at least the threat of violence. What people like you are saying is that no nation must ever be allowed to throw off an oppressor. Have you ever thought what the implications of that would be ? It is called slavery.
    The Israeli Government took over Palestinian Territory by force, contrary to numerous UN resolutions. The distress of the Palestinian people is plain for all to see, even the most obdurate and hard hearted, but you wish to deny them any hope of redress. I am not sure many people who had seriously thought about this would wish to stay in this party if that is what it wants. Anyone who speaks for them is forced out so why bother to join.

  • nvelope2003 1st May '17 - 10:57am

    A Social Liberal: A majority of the ordinary people of Israel must have voted for politicians who approve settlements in the occupied Palestinian lands, even though this is illegal and wrong. Those who support this policy should accept full responsibility for the consequences and stop blaming others.

  • Mick Taylor 1st May '17 - 5:31pm

    nvelope2003. No-one is forced out of our party for supporting the Palestinians. Some people, David Ward, Jenny Tongue for example, have been roundly criticised for their inflammatory language and their conflation of Israeli Government with ‘The Jews’. Both David and Jenny have strong views on the conflict in the Middle East, but their determination to express their views in the way they do has alienated many of those who share their concerns about some of the actions of the state of Israel.
    As I have said previously, once the way you says something becomes the message rather than the the views you are expressing, it really is time to reconsider what you’re doing.

  • nvelope2003 2nd May '17 - 3:32pm

    moderate language
    has had
    no effect sadly so some resort to more robust terms and are expelled

  • Michael Meadowcroft 11th Jul '17 - 1:47pm

    Re David Ward:

    Following the election it is time to return to the decision to sack David Ward as candidate for Bradford East and to make representations as to the reasons for that action and the process by which it was carried out.

    I have therefore submitted my representations on the whole sorry situation and I have now heard from the “Head of Compliance and Constitutional Support”. I specifically confined my case to David Ward’s sacking as candidate and not to his suspension as a member, nor to the suspension of his constituency association, the stated reasons for which were inexorable consequences of the initial action on his candidature (with the inevitable visible and disastrous effect on the result in Bradford East).

    A number of issues have emerged from the official response to my representations. The first is that there is no constitutional provision for formal representations from anyone other than the individual involved. This I find unacceptable, particularly in a party that is based on Liberal values. How can it be legitimate to bar a member of the party from being able formally to raise issues about the party’s actions in relation to another member which affect the broader standing of the party.

    Second, David Ward was not removed from the list of approved candidates but “only” sacked as the candidate for Bradford East. This I find extremely odd. The allegations for which he was removed did not relate to that constituency, nor any other specific constituency, but were of a general nature. In these circumstances, how can an action be taken that leaves a candidate on the list of approved candidates and legitimately available to be nominated in any other constituency? This anomaly undermines the original action.

    My representations contain much other information, mainly included in my earlier contribution to this topic and do not need repeating here. David Ward is making his case directly.

    More anon no doubt

    Michael Meadowcroft

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