Aidan Burley and why the Tory party need to tackle bigotry head on

Richard Sudan
Burley Aidan Burley and why the Tory party need to tackle bigotry head on


Aidan Burley MP, the Conservative MP for Cannock Chase, yesterday made the ill advised move of publishing his – we’ll be generous here and say ‘thoughts’ – on the opening ceremony of the Olympic Games on Twitter.  This morning, however, he will be chiding himself, while Prime Minister David Cameron must be wondering what possible embarrassment could possibly be awaiting him next, and indeed what he should do about Burley.

This year has seen a string of catastrophic events including significant errors made by government ministers, piling more pressure on Cameron – as with each occasion the buck ultimately stops with him – and once again his judgment is under the spotlight.

Burley who, following revelations about his attendance at a Nazi-themed stag do earlier in the year,  lost the party whip, had the following to say about the opening ceremony of the Olympic Games:

“The most leftie opening ceremony I have ever seen-more than Beijing, the capital of a communist state! Welfare tribute next?”

He then went on to say “Thank God the athletes have arrived!  Now we can move on from leftie multi-cultural crap.  Bring back red arrows, Shakespeare and the Stones!”

After his comments began to cause the mass flurry out outrage and indignation they did, he then sought to make amends by backtracking from his original line saying;

“Seems my tweet has been misunderstood.  I was talking about the way it was handled in the show, not multiculturalism in itself.

His fate for now remains unclear, but Burley who was once seen as a high flyer within the ranks of the Tory party may well have sealed his own fate with his ill advised and some might say offensive comments yesterday.

How Cameron will react to this remains to be seen, but one would think that in the wake of Burley’s track record he would want to send out a clear message that such cheap and distasteful right wing comments should not be made by high ranking MPs with a wide reaching profile.

The situation perhaps presents a dilemma for Cameron.  Himself seen as a raving vigilante ‘leftie’ by the hard right of his own party, but surely wishing to appeal to much more liberal electorate, he now needs to decide who he needs to pander to more.

But Burley’s comments while reprehensible are hardly surprising.  This is a party which, after all, supported apartheid in South Africa in the not too distant past.  It’s no secret that the party wishes to dispel this myth, in an attempt to modernize.

Burley’s remarks are akin to London Mayor Boris Johnson’s famous description of a St Patrick’s Day event.  Speaking to the press Johnson said he believed it fell under the banner of “Lefty Sinn Fein crap”.

Surely if the Tory party want to move forward they need to tackle all bigotry head on, by sending out the message that it won’t be tolerated.

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  • Adrian

    When the knives are out for you, maybe you need to up the ante, if he knows he’s going to go down, why not use the opportunity to tell a few home truths on live TV, he’ll get more public support than by cowering like a mouse. How about Burley talking about Treason regarding the surrender of British sovereignty, the race replacement of the British people, the mass murder going on in the Mid east by our illegal wars, what’s to lose, he may even end up with so much public support, Cameron wouldn’t dare sack him. Burley for PM

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