30 minutes with David Ward: ‘My apology is not because I feel I said something wrong, but it is to those who have misinterpreted what I said’
By Fatima Patel
As I walked into the MP for Bradford East’s office I’m greeted by a wall plastered with Thank You cards.
David Ward MP, wastes no time to come and greet me, which is welcoming considering his busy schedule. I look around his office and notice everyone to be busy at work, with calls and the constant visitors coming into the busy Killinghall Road office.
David Ward is one MP, who is not only focused about working on international issues but is equally as focused on dealing and helping with the local issues of his constituents.
We enjoy a discussion on the good work going on in Bradford and swiftly move on to discuss his latest so called impropriety. For those not in the know, David Ward made news headlines this week with his Tweet:
“The big question is – if I lived in Gaza would I fire a rocket? – probably yes,”
The Tweet has angered a few people, resulting on pressure to suspend the Bradford East MP.
David this is not the first time you have been in trouble in relation to your comments about Israel – Palestine conflict. Do you believe you should have been more careful about what you posted on Twitter, especially considering your suspension regarding the same subject around the same time last year?
My comment did not condone killing people! Earlier that day I had been at a Westminster Hall debate on refugees and my initial address at the event was the situation in Gaza. I criticised both sides, but no one referred to that. What I tweeted was a hypothetical comment. I was putting myself in the shoes of the people in Gaza and imagined if I was in that situation what would I do. It’s similar to putting oneself in the situation of a battered wife, after going to the police time and time again and nothing being done, what would I have done?
Do you regret making the comment?
No, I have no regrets about what I said. I can understand if I said I support the rocket firing but I didn’t say that. Why should I regret empathising with some one?
President for Bradford Council for mosques Rafiq Sehgal believes you have ‘gone over the line and believes as an MP you would be better pressuring both sides into negotiating a settlement and it would be better for you to air your opinion in the House of Commons’ What are your thoughts?
I am very surprised that they have said that. They need to look at the context of what I said. If they look at the fact that I was looking at how I felt if I was in their shoes. As for airing my opinion in the House of Commons, well I have done that.
Nick Clegg has utterly condemned your comments and has called for a disciplinary, although he has refused to suspend you from the Party, despite pressure from Israel. How do you feel about this?
I would be very surprised if they did. Once again they need to look at the context of what has been said. What I have said has been misconstrued. I have apologised, but not for what I have said, but for how it has been interpreted. So my apology is not because I feel I said something wrong, but it is to those who have misinterpreted what I said. I don’t feel my comments are sufficient grounds to be suspended.
Someone has set up a ‘We support David Ward’ Facebook page which has already got over 1700 likes in support of your comments. How do you feel about that?
Thank you as there is intense pressure on me and my staff at the moment. I feel really comforted by the strength and support from people. Before this situation occurred I received around 800 emails from my constituents asking me to contact the foreign office to put pressure on Israel. Since yesterday (Wednesday 23 July) I have received an additional 1000 emails, which I will be responding to individually. In addition to that I will continue to deal with local community projects as well as Gaza. I am extremely passionate about Gaza, however I’m not one of those MP’s who will forget about the local issues too. I am still here working to help with housing, employment and other such local issues too.
As I left David’s office, the sun beaming down on me and a smile on the faces of people passing by, a level of comfort and a proud feeling overcame me. This quote came to mind:
“You can have regret from yesterday, fear tomorrow, but peace today by sharing your heart’s deepest feelings. A life spent being fearful of showing your soul is a life not worth living.”
― Shannon L. Alder