David Ward has gone rogue and just had a Mel Gibson moment live on Sky News:
“I’m accusing the Jews who did it, [nervous laugh] so if you’re a Jew and you did not do it I’m not accusing you. I’m saying that those Jews who did that and continue to do it have not learned those lessons. If you are a Jew and you do not do those things and have never done those things then I am not criticising you.”
He goes on to say that he can think of no better day than Holocaust Memorial Day to raise these issues. A LibDem spokesman tells Guido “he is very much acting on his own”…
Here is how the story unfolded:
David Ward has reposted his comments on his website and issued a defiant statement, in which he unbelievably compares his fight not to be silenced to that of a Holocaust survivor:
“For my entire political career I have fought prejudice. I have just returned from Bradford’s Holocaust Memorial event where people across cultures and faiths joined together to say “We bear witness to the horrors of the Holocaust and will never forget its lessons.
In the words of the Holocaust survivor, Elie Wiesel, as quoted in the booklet ‘Holocaust Memorial Day – Learning Lessons from the past to create a safer, better future': “I swore never to be silent whenever human beings endure suffering and humiliation. We must always take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented.”
The original problem was never his criticism of Israel per se, rather his use of “the Jews”. Guido hopes LibDem HQ note Ward is standing by that. Every time he opens his mouth he makes this worse.
UPDATE: And as if by magic, David Ward is still digging. He has spoken to the BBC:
“I’ve spoken to the chief whip, and he’s got his views. I don’t feel bad about it in any way. They consider my comments regrettable; I consider their reprimand regrettable.”
Apparently any further disciplinary would be “a sad reflection on the values we all hold so dearly, particularly on free speech”. Adding that he has had an “overwhelmingly positive” response from the public, with 80 unsolicited supportive emails, and just two from detractors.”
“While it was essential to remember the Holocaust as one of the most horrific examples of man’s inhumanity to man”, should we not also remember when there are examples of atrocities being committed in the present?”
This is getting very messy for David Ward. The LibDem MP has now been summoned to a meeting with party whips on Monday. Tory MP Rob Halfon has slammed his comments, telling Guido:
“I am greatly saddened that in the week of Holocaust remembrance, David has seemingly compared the gas chambers of the Nazi regime to the West Bank. This is the tragic trivialisation of real evil. It should be remembered that Israel withdrew from Gaza completely, and yet has faced a barrage of 7000+ missiles from Hamas and been the victim of hundreds of terrorist suicide bombers, and been attacked by all it’s neighbours in 1948, 1967, and 1973. I hope that David will reconsider these remarks, when he remembers that 6 million Jews lost their lives under Adolf Hitler.”
The Holocaust Educational Trust are even more damning, accusing Ward of “abusing the memory” of Holocaust victims with his “sickening” comments. Monday could be very difficult for him…
UPDATE: It is all kicking off now. Ward isn’t backing down, telling 5Live he won’t be “stifled”. “If the party has a different view that’s for the party to decide”. Apparently the party’s response is “regrettable” and he hopes he won’t have the whip withdrawn. That meeting with the whips just got all the more interesting…
The BBC is now running the story that David Ward has been condemned by the LibDems for his Holocaust comments. He has now deleted them from his website. A spokesperson for the party tells Guido that the matter will be dealt with internally. This photo, published on Ward’s own website next to the party logo, will hardly help matters…
Rejoicing over at the Beeb as Foreign Editor Jon Williams announces he is leaving and heading to ABC.
A “vile, shouty, aggressive man – we’re all delighted,” whispers one colleague to Media Guido.
Bye bye, then.
Telegraph sketch writer Michael Deacon gets hold of Dave’s Davos speech:
“Don’t say, ‘No tax!’ I say, ‘Yo, tax! Yes, fo’ sho, tax! Please pay mo’ tax!’ Cos no tax base – no low-tax case! We can’t keep pace in the global race if you don’t embrace my simple case: paying tax is ace. There’s no hiding place. I’ll cut to the chase: evasion’s a disgrace to the human race. It’s a slap in the face. Do you want this place to sink without trace? Yo yo yo, World Economic Forum, make some noooiiise.”
Congratulations to Dave’s missing spinner Gabby Bertin. The Telegraph births column reports the happy news this morning:
On 16th January 2013,.—at Chelsea and Westminster Hospital, to Gabrielle Bertin and Michael Grist, a daughter, Freya Camille Ann, a sister for