Much has changed in the world of politics since May 2015 but one thing certainly hasn't – former MP David Ward is still causing problems for the Liberal Democrats. The one term wonder achieved little in his year five stint in Parliament other than notoriety for a 2013 website post to mark Holocaust Memorial Day in which claimed he was 'saddened that the Jews, who suffered unbelievable levels of persecution during the Holocaust, could within a few years of liberation from the death camps, be inflicting atrocities on Palestinians in the new State of Israel and continue to do so on a daily basis in the West Bank and Gaza'. He was subsequently temporarily suspended from the parliamentary party five months later for questioning Israel's right to exist.
Ward – who still uses a picture of himself on the green benches as his Twitter image, six years after being ejected from the place – has clearly never resolved himself to his defeat in 2015. Having been elected as a Bradford councillor in 2016, he stood again for parliament in 2017 despite suffering the ignominy of being deselected as the Liberal Democrats candidate midway through the contest over antisemitic comments. Now an independent, Ward's council seat of Bolton and Undercliffe is up for re-election next month. In Bradford the Liberal Democrats have a (relatively) strong presence, holding 9 of the 90 seats on the council. You might have thought therefore they'd be all too keen to take the fight to Ward – given he won the seat under their party colours last time.
Apparently not, according to a list of local candidates published online. Five candidates including Ward are standing for election in Bolton and Undercliffe but the Lib Dems appear to have lost their famed penchant for an opportunistic victory and declined to stand a nominee – one of just four of the 32 council seats in which no official party candidate appears. Mr S cannot help but wonder why a ward which has been orange for nearly its entire history since its creation in 2004 would not attract even a paper candidate? Could it perhaps be because Ward is still listed on the Bradford council website as a member of the 'Liberal Democrat and independent Group' despite being publicly disowned by the party?
The decision to give Ward an effective free run has not gone down too well on social media, as one might expect. But at least that same bitterness is felt by the ex MP himself who has written on Facebook in recent months that Labour under its current leader has been 'Starmerised into failing the Palestinians' and likened himself to controversial Bristol academic David Miller, claiming 'this was the kind of force behind removing me as a selected candidate in a General Election and the continued refusal to accept me as a Liberal Democrat Party member.'
Given Ward is still listed as part of the same council faction online, four years after Tim Farron ordered him out of the Lib Dems, Mr S wonders just how powerful this oblique 'force' actually is?