Andy McSmith's Diary: Aidan Burley is not anti-Semitic - he's just stupid and very convincing

 

Aidan Burley, the Tory MP who bought a Nazi uniform for a friend to wear at a stag party, is presumably relieved by the conclusions of a report by Lord Gold, a Tory peer who was asked by the party to look into the affair. He concluded Mr Burley “is not a bad man, still less a racist or an anti-Semite” but he is stupid.

Too stupid, that is, to realise that parading in a Nazi uniform in a country that was once under Nazi occupation might be offensive; or to check if it was legal; or to attach “any political motivation whatsoever” to being dressing like an SS officer.

Given he was dealing with someone who had behaved in a “stupid and offensive” fashion, Lord Gold seems to have been surprisingly willing to believe what he was told.

Burley told him his mate Mark Fournier (or ‘Fornier’, as Lord Gold spells it) gave a Nazi salute for the camera “only at the prompting of the Mail on Sunday journalist.” Lord Gold believed him. He may have been right to do so, but you would think he would take the elementary step of putting this allegation to the journalist in question, or his employers, before committing it to print, but he did not. The general thrust of Lord Gold’s conclusions is that Aidan Burley has suffered enough, and the fact that he has been “stupid and offensive” is no bar to carrying on as a Tory MP. How kind.

Farage ‘forgets’ Bloom

The best-known member of Ukip, after Nigel Farage, is Godfrey Bloom, the MEP from Yorkshire who has views on women who do not clean behind fridges, and who once whacked Michael Crick, of Channel 4 News, with a rolled-up manifesto. You would think Mr Farage would know that.

But writing in The Independent, he implied that Mr Bloom had been dealt the same penalty as David Silvester, the Henley councillor with an unusual take on the cause of bad weather, whose membership of Ukip has been suspended. Mr Bloom is no longer part of the Ukip group in the European Parliament, but insists in today’s Letters that he is still an active party member, something he says Mr Farage would have known “if he ever left the Home Counties”.

Saloon bar secrets

Years ago, when the Labour government was young, I received a stream of abuse from Gordon Brown’s thuggish spin doctor, Charlie Whelan, because I had written he had been overheard in the Red Lion pub, in Whitehall, barking out details of government policy towards the euro on a mobile phone.

I did not know why he was so put out, until it emerged he had been talking to Tony Blair. Blair was so furious to learn that Whelan had conducted this sensitive conversation in a pub that he demanded that Brown sack Whelan, which the then-Chancellor refused to do.

This happy memory came flooding back when I noticed Whelan on Twitter boasting: “Told Red Lion closed & turning into trendy wine bar. Yuk. The pub is where Blair found out we were not joining euro – from me!”

Top-secret union bashing

Tonight, MPs will be debating a very old court case which might have been forgotten had one of the convicted not gone on to have a very familiar face: Ricky Tomlinson, star of the The Royle Family.

Forty years ago, he was on a picket line in Shrewsbury during a national builders’ strike, when police moved in and made 24 arrests. He and another man, Des Warren, were convicted of “conspiracy to intimidate”. Even after 40 years, researchers have been denied access to papers on the grounds of national security. A suspicion is they would show the police were under political pressure to stop the picketing.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
2015 General Election
May2015

Poll of Polls

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Tradewind Recruitment: English Teacher

Negotiable: Tradewind Recruitment: My client is an excellent, large partially ...

Tradewind Recruitment: Science Teacher

£90 - £140 per day: Tradewind Recruitment: I am currently working in partnersh...

Tradewind Recruitment: Year 3 Primary Teacher

£100 - £150 per day: Tradewind Recruitment: Year 3 Teacher Birmingham Jan 2015...

Ashdown Group: Lead Web Developer (ASP.NET, C#) - City of London

£45000 - £50000 per annum + Excellent benefits: Ashdown Group: Lead Web Develo...

Day In a Page

Isis hostage crisis: The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power

Isis hostage crisis

The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power, says Robert Fisk
Missing salvage expert who found $50m of sunken treasure before disappearing, tracked down at last

The runaway buccaneers and the ship full of gold

Salvage expert Tommy Thompson found sunken treasure worth millions. Then he vanished... until now
Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Maverick artist Grayson Perry backs our campaign
Assisted Dying Bill: I want to be able to decide about my own death - I want to have control of my life

Assisted Dying Bill: 'I want control of my life'

This week the Assisted Dying Bill is debated in the Lords. Virginia Ironside, who has already made plans for her own self-deliverance, argues that it's time we allowed people a humane, compassionate death
Move over, kale - cabbage is the new rising star

Cabbage is king again

Sophie Morris banishes thoughts of soggy school dinners and turns over a new leaf
11 best winter skin treats

Give your moisturiser a helping hand: 11 best winter skin treats

Get an extra boost of nourishment from one of these hard-working products
Paul Scholes column: The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him

Paul Scholes column

The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him
Frank Warren column: No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans

Frank Warren's Ringside

No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans
Isis hostage crisis: Militant group stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

Isis stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

The jihadis are being squeezed militarily and economically, but there is no sign of an implosion, says Patrick Cockburn
Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action

Virtual reality: Seeing is believing

Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action
Homeless Veterans appeal: MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’

Homeless Veterans appeal

MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’ to help
Larry David, Steve Coogan and other comedians share stories of depression in new documentary

Comedians share stories of depression

The director of the new documentary, Kevin Pollak, tells Jessica Barrett how he got them to talk
Has The Archers lost the plot with it's spicy storylines?

Has The Archers lost the plot?

A growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent over the rural soap's spicy storylines; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried, says Simon Kelner
English Heritage adds 14 post-war office buildings to its protected lists

14 office buildings added to protected lists

Christopher Beanland explores the underrated appeal of these palaces of pen-pushing
Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Scientists unearthed the cranial fragments from Manot Cave in West Galilee