If I lived in Gaza I would what? If I lived in Gaza I wouldn't be me. I certainly wouldn't be a middle-aged British Liberal Democrat.
So there was something silly about David Ward pondering what he would do if he lived in Gaza. Whatever that conflict there is about, it isn't about you, David.
Still, David has not been half as silly as some of his critics. Last night Conservatives took to Twitter to demand his instant expulsion from the party:"
One bladder-on-a-stick called Nadhim Zahawi has even written to the Metropolitan Police calling for David to be prosecuted.
If anything, it is Zahawi who should be prosecuted - for wasting police time.
And David, in his cack-handed way, was making an important point: anti-terrorist and police operations can be counterproductive. We have examples of that - internment without trial in Northern Ireland; police us of stop-and-search powers - much closer to home.
You may not agree with these arguments when they are used, but it must surely be possible for someone to advance them without being expelled or prosecuted.
One amusing thing this affair is done is show us that the right is just as politically correct as the left. Force them to encounter an argument they don't like and don't normally here and they will nor argue back: they will try to silence you.
You can tell something odd is going on when Spiked emerges as the voice of reason. Under the headline "Let Lib Dems commit 'tweetcrimes'" it says:
David Ward, Lib Dem MP for Bradford East, is not sharpest of political tools, but his tweeting over the past 24 hours has been an expression of his political views. ‘The big question is - if I lived in #Gaza would I fire a rocket? - probably yes’, he wrote on Tuesday. And then in a follow-up tweet, he tried on Kennedy cliché for size: ‘Ich bin ein #palestinian - the West must make up its mind - which side is it on?’
It’s not big, and it’s definitely not clever, but it is a genuine expression of Ward’s political views: he thinks Palestinians are being oppressed by the Israeli state (or ‘the Jews’, as he referred to it last year), and he thinks the West needs to come down hard on Israel. So far, so right on.
But what has been astonishing is the response of the Tories. Not only have they, like Labour, sought to make a big deal of Ward’s flight of imaginative sympathy after which he concludes that he, too, would be firing rockets at Israel if he was David Ward born in Gaza, now battling Israel, rather than David Ward born in Lincoln, and now boring in Bradford. No, the Tories have gone one depoliticising step further and suggested that Ward’s mal mots are not only a bit simple; they’re possibly illegal.