Diary: Rivals call for the head of Tory MP in 'Nazigate' scandal


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The Independent Online

The fallout from the photos of men dressing up as Nazis at a stag party attended by a Tory MP has not gone away. Aidan Burley, the Conservative member for Cannock Chase, has admitted he was wrong, but still holds his post as an aide to the Transport Secretary, Justine Greening.

One MP who is not letting the matter rest is Labour's Ian Austin, whose father arrived in Britain from Czechoslovakia at the age of 10 as a refugee from the Nazis. Other relatives were slaughtered in the Treblinka death camp.

Mr Austin has raised the issue of the stag party three times in the Commons. Yesterday, he was in Cannock Chase helping Labour activists to collect signatures on a petition condemning the local MP. He has also fired off a letter to Ms Greening, who had told him Mr Burley left the party before other guests started chanting "Hitler, Hitler, Hitler" and toasting the Third Reich. That claim seems to have been contradicted by a letter Mr Burley wrote to The Jewish Chronicle yesterday, in which he said: "I wish I had left as soon as I realised what was happening." The stag party was in France, where such behaviour is probably illegal. Mr Austin believes this is a suitable case for a sacking.

She wasn't pushed, she chose to jump

There was a flurry of speculation yesterday set off by the blogger Guido Fawkes about the departure of Ed Miliband's press officer and gag writer, Ayesha Hazarika. One theory was that she was sacked because Mr Miliband had a rough ride at Prime Minister's Questions the previous day. That was certainly untrue. Diary reported last week that she is moving to Harriet Harman's office and everyone concerned says it was her own choice.

All the same, an adviser would not normally choose to leave the leader's office to work for someone further down the pecking order unless something was wrong. Doing the Leader of the Opposition's press work is demanding even when the leader know who he is and what the message needs to be, as David Cameron or Tony Blair did.

'Secret' emails are often not advisable

In the Labour years, two special advisers – Jo Moore and Damien McBride – lost jobs and had their reputations blackened by leaked emails they wrote. So it is not entirely surprising that Dominic Cummings, special adviser to the Education Secretary Michael Gove, should decide only to use a private email account and advise others to follow his example, in an email which was, of course, leaked. Mr Gove was told by the Information Commissioner yesterday to put a stop to this practice. Departmental business must be conducted on departmental accounts for the sake of the "completeness of the public record", he ruled.

Kensington keeps a lid on Boris's 'living wage'

The Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, is promoting a "living wage" for Londoners – £8.30 an hour – which he reckons is the minimum needed to cover the higher cost of living in the capital. But he has yet to convince his Tory colleagues in Kensington and Chelsea, who threw out a Labour councillor's proposal that they should pay council staff the living wage.

The borough's finance chief, Warwick Lightfoot – once an adviser to the Tory chancellor Norman Lamont – told the Kensington Chronicle: "The council, and contractors working on its behalf, should offer rates of pay that recruit, retain and motivate their employees". Mr Lightfoot's "rate of pay", in the form of attendance allowances, is reportedly more than £50,000 a year – enough, obviously, to "retain and motivate" him.