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Observations Olympics opening ceremony was ‘multicultural crap’, Tory MP tweets


David Cameron will face pressure to remove the Tory whip from the Conservative MP Aidan Burley after he tweeted that the Olympics opening ceremony was “multicultural crap”.

Burley, who was sacked as a ministerial aide last year after he took part in a Nazi-themed stag party in the French Alps, described Danny Boyle’s work as “the most leftie opening ceremony I have ever seen”.

Downing Street sources moved quickly to distance themselves from Burley’s tweets. “Clearly we don’t agree,” one source said.

The row erupted just after 10pm when Burley tweeted twice within a few minutes as the Olympic athletes started to enter the stadium after Boyle’s staging.

In his first tweet Burley wrote: “The most leftie opening ceremony I have ever seen – more than Beijing, the capital of a communist state! Welfare tribute next?”

A minute later Burley tweeted: “Thank God the athletes have arrived! Now we can move on from leftie multicultural crap. Bring back red arrows, Shakespeare and the Stones!”

The tweets will be toxic for the prime minister who has been praised for his handling of the preparations of the Olympics. Burley’s outburst will fuel suspicions that some members of the Conservative party have unreconstructed views which fail to recognise the pivotal contribution to society made by black and minority ethnic Britons. Boyle illustrated this with a section devoted to MV Empire Windrush, the ship which brought many passengers from Jamaica to start a new life in Britain.

John Woodcock, the shadow transport minister, highlighted the incredulity which greeted Burley’s tweets. “don’t think @aidanburley would say something so appalling after having to apologise for the Nazi stuff.”

Burley’s remarks sparked a Twitter storm. The footballer Stan Collymore tweeted: “I’ll happily stand against you at the next election. You have no clue about our town or its people. Game on.”

Tory loyalists distanced themselves from Burley. Charlie Elphicke, the Tory MP for Dover who is a Cameron loyalist, distanced the party from Burley. He tweeted: “An amazing #london2012 opening ceremony. Brilliant @DannyBoyleFilm celebration of our nation. Tonight we are #OneBritain.”

Louise Mensch, the Tory MP, also tweeted: “Have said for a long time that the Olympics are going to be pure awesomeness. Well done Danny Boyle #TeamGB #London2012.”

Gavin Barwell tweeted: “With respect, us Londoners are rather proud of the diversity of our city #nothingleftwingaboutit.”

Burley was sacked as parliamentary private secretary to the transport secretary Justine Greening in 2011 after he attended a Nazi-themed stag party. The party involved Nazi salutes. One guest was filmed by the Mail on Sunday raising a toast to “the ideology of the Third Reich” at the La Fondue restaurant at the Val Thorens ski resort.

Burley then apologised. “There was clearly inappropriate behaviour by some of the other guests and I deeply regret that this happened. I am extremely sorry for any offence that will undoubtedly have been caused.”

A Tory spokesman said at the time: “Aidan Burley has behaved in a manner which is offensive and foolish.

“That is why he is being removed from his post as parliamentary private secretary at the Department for Transport. In light of information received, the prime minister has asked for a fuller investigation into the matter to be set up and to report to him.”

The latest tweets by Burley are likely to guarantee that the Oxford graduate, who had been marked out by Cameron for promotion after his election in 2010, will have no political future in a mainstream political party.

Burley is MP for the marginal seat of Cannock Chase and will be vulnerable to a Labour challenge if he retains the Conservative whip.

But the prime minister is either likely to remove the whip or gently suggest to Burley that he seeks another career. He will be furious that Burley has marred what has been seen in No 10 as a magical moment for Britain.

A Labour source said: “I think Mr Burley has made an idiot of himself enough without us commenting.”

Late on Friday night Burley tried to row back on his message. He tweeted: “Seems my tweet has been misunderstood. I was talking about the way it was handled in the show, not multiculturalism itself.”

Observations:

For those who have short memories let us not forget it was a #Labour Government and Ken Livingston who won the bid for a successful London Olympics and not the #Coalition who brought it to the UK.

Fankly, tt doesn’t take much to dislodge the Tories’ mask and reveal the snarling face of race hatred.

In the case of union-bashing public-school thug Aidan Burley all it took was seeing a few black faces at the Olympic opening ceremony.

You might have thought Burley would mind what he said about race after being very publicly disgraced by his role in organising a nazi-themed stag do.

But no. “Leftie multicultural crap,” fumed our modern-day Enoch Powell at the sight of – gasp! – a mixed-race couple and one of Britain’s most successful musicians, Dizzee Rascal, a man who grew up a stone’s throw from the Olympic Park and who happens to be black.

Burley has of course spent the following two days trying desperately to backtrack. But we can see exactly what he said and what he meant.

He meant that black faces have no place at a celebration of British history and culture. He meant that black people aren’t welcome here and will never belong here.

We can only guess what Burley would have wanted the opening ceremony to look like. A three-hour Niall Ferguson lecture on how white men gloriously civilised India and Africa with fire, sword and famine, perhaps?

His comments shame himself and his party and a man who could utter them has no place in public life in this country in the 21st century.

Even London Mayor Boris Johnson, no stranger himself to racially charged comments, has felt obliged to publicly distance himself from Burley.

Where is David Cameron, though? The Prime Minister surely has to withdraw the Tory whip from his race-baiting MP.

But Downing Street maintains a deafening silence. And the longer it goes on the more Cameron gives the impression that his party is happy to give a platform to toxic bigots.

Virgin’s cock-up

It’s just as well Richard Branson’s Virgin Trains wasn’t in charge of the Olympic opening ceremony.

Otherwise tickets would have started at £100 a pop, there would be no guarantee of actually getting a seat and the show would have started two hours late and been cut off abruptly just as the flame was about to be lit.

But the irrepressible Branson can’t be kept from causing chaos.

And so we had the spectacle of football fans crammed into his carriages like sardines yesterday because it never occurred to Virgin that supporters might heed the official advice and allow plenty of time to get to Manchester for kick-off.

It’s a bit of an embarrassment at a time when the eyes of the world are on Britain.

But it’s fitting that many of the suffering fans were from Brazil and New Zealand – the former a country that recently broke up its railways British-style, the latter having taken its network back into public ownership after privatisation proved a dismal flop.

So they’ll be wearily familiar with the likes of yesterday’s cock-up. But we should still be collectively ashamed at the state of our rail system – and resolve to get it back into public ownership as soon as we possibly can.

Secondly, Aa very different type of Olympic spirit coursed through east London’s streets yesterday as demonstrators marched against the “corporate” Games.

News crews from around the world flocked to Mile End as more than 600 people, barred from demonstrating near the Olympic venues, trooped instead along Roman Road to show viewers the real London 2012.

Campaigners bombarded onlookers with demands of every possible description, from protests against sponsor Rio Tinto’s union-busting in its West Papuan mines to Circassian nationalists calling out Russia’s hosting of the 2014 Winter Olympics in their homeland of Sochi – and on the 150th anniversary of the Circassian genocide.

Talia, a squatter with the Eviction Resistance Network, said she was there to highlight the Olympic effect on the local housing market, with rising rent and development forcing poorer householders away from the area.

“I know someone in Bow who just got told their rent was going up by 500 per cent,” she said.

“They said, tough – pay up or get out.”

Protester Haci Ozdemir of the Refugee Workers Cultural Association in Hackney told the Morning Star that the Games had failed to channel economic activity to those who needed it most.

He said: “They use the economic crisis to cut down all the social benefits that the bourgeois class has granted.”

Citing cuts to ESOL funding as a perfect example he added: “They say immigrants should integrate into this country, but at the same time they are cutting it.”

Meanwhile Adam Lotun of Surrey said that he and Islington Disabled People Against the Cuts were determined to thwart Paralympic sponsor Atos’s PR exercise.

The company, which is behind the widely reviled “tick-box” testing of beneficiaries with disabilities, is currently facing a judicial review on human rights grounds and critics charge that it ignores serious pain and illness to force people off the employment support allowance.

Mr Lotun, who led the march in his wheelchair, said Atos had perverted the Paralympic ethos of overcoming disabilities.

“Society throws a lot of barriers at us,” he said.

“To state these people are at the peak of their physical abilities – every day I aspire, from moment to moment. It’s the peak of my physical abilities to be out here.”

Co-ordinator Julian Cheyne of the Counter Olympics Network said that the march showed there were many issues at stake but the main message was simple.

“It claims to be something it isn’t, ‘it’s a humanitarian organisation.’ It’s not – it’s a company.”

The march came just a day after police directly outside the Olympic opening ceremony kettled and arrested around 180 cyclists on a lawful Critical Mass event, with footage recently surfacing of an officer pepper-spraying a parked disabled man on a tricycle.

Individual campaigns have planned further protests throughout the Games, organisers said.

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