Wednesday 19 June 2013

The bizarre case of the ‘disciplining’ of David Ward MP

Attempts to ‘discipline’ Liberal Democrat MP David Ward, over remarks he made on his blog in January about Jewish people, appear to have foundered.

Liberal Democrat Friends of Palestine reports in its newsletter today:
Baroness Neuberger and Lord Carlile, who were due to hold a meeting with MP David Ward, in order to ‘re-educate’ him in ‘sensitivity and language training’ apparently no longer wish to do so. No explanation has been given.
The Jewish Chronicle (30 May) reported that this meeting was arranged after a previous meeting had been aborted:
Lib Dem leader Nick Clegg, deputy leader Simon Hughes and chief whip Alistair Carmichael had originally intended to force Mr Ward to meet the party’s Friends of Israel group to agree “proportionate and precise” language for his future comments on Israel.
But the plan was scuppered when the Friends group referred the case back to Mr Clegg, saying Mr Ward had not removed the original blog. Lib Dem Friends of Israel said this week that it had not changed its position over the MP.
A Lib Dem spokesman confirmed that the disciplinary process against Mr Ward has now been adjourned in anticipation of a meeting with peers Lord Carlile and Baroness Neuberger.
The Jewish Chronicle (6 June) subsequently reported that the Jewish Leadership Council was piling on the pressure because of this delay. An explanation for the delay was suggested:
Mr Ward’s case is thought to have fallen down the pecking order over the past five months as the Lib Dems contended with disciplinary actions against former Cabinet member Chris Huhne, Lord Rennard and MP Mike Hancock.
Now, with the refusal of Neuberger and Carlile to participate, it seems that the party has no idea what to do. But why should it do anything? Ward has already apologised publicly for his remarks and that should be the end of the matter. The continued hounding of him serves no rational purpose. But then the Liberal Democrat Friends of Israel has a track record of vindictiveness towards prominent critics of Israeli government policy, so a long-running vendetta is only to be expected.

Postscript (1): A thought occurs. If Nick Clegg, Simon Hughes and Alistair Carmichael can “force” a party representative to “meet the party’s Friends of Israel group to agree ‘proportionate and precise’ language for his future comments on Israel,” can we also expect them to force pro-Israeli representatives to meet Friends of Palestine the next time one of them justifies brutal Israeli policies in the West Bank and Gaza?

Postscript (2): David Ward has tweeted, “Disciplinary process – next stage.....I am to meet with don’t know who and if I did I must not tell anyone”.

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