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UK Politics

Andy McSmith's Diary: Aidan Burley may not be missed as much as he apparently believes he will


Aidan Burley, 35, the soon to be ex-Tory MP for Cannock Chase, has denied a Mail on Sunday story that he was leant on by Downing Street to quit Parliament. He has told his local paper, the Express and Star, that David Cameron “asked me to stay on”. I am trying to imagine the conversation.

“Hi Aidan – Dave here. Thank you so very much for keeping the Conservative Party brand in the news the way you did, with that outstanding photograph of your friend dressed up in the Nazi uniform you found for him. And I also remember your stirring tweet about the opening ceremony of the London Olympics – ‘multicultural crap’ – very Bullingdon. Five more years, please.”

“Sorry, Dave, I haven’t the time. Bye.”

Oh, Danny ploy

Frances Rains, of Whitley County, Kentucky, is feeling foolish after sending money to a conman who rang to tell her that she had won a lottery prize of $2.5m and a Mercedes-Benz, with the catch that there were taxes to be paid before the prize could be delivered.

The caller, who claimed his name was Tony and who may have been ringing from Jamaica, sent her what he said was his photograph.

The photograph was of our very own Danny Alexander, Chief Secretary to the Treasury.

Putin Vlad in his place

That grand dame of rock, Debbie Harry, and her band Blondie, have declined an invitation to perform at the Winter Olympics this week in protest at Russia’s treatment of gays. Do you suppose that if they had turned up, President Putin would have had the wit to say: “I’m always touched by your presence, dear”?

Middle-income family

Middlesbrough FC aren’t what they used to be, but surely times are not so hard that they could not find £5 for photocopying. When the team were in Doncaster at the weekend, two staff called in at a local library to print out game plans. They did not have the cash to pay and the library did not accept card payments. The librarian asked them to fetch the money and be back before the library closed at noon, but they did not reappear. That is why the head coach Aitor Karanka’s pre-match meeting was interrupted by a 67-year-old volunteer librarian turning up with an unpaid bill. He was sent away with £5 in his hand.

Where did the far-right go?

There is another sign that the far-right in the UK is shrinking to almost nothing, despite being on the rise in Hungary, Greece and France. Several explanations have been suggested for this gratifying phenomenon. Ukip, which tries to keep its own ranks free of racist nutters, may have performed a small service by soaking up demand for the kind of protest politics that was the preserve of the hard-right.

Five years ago, the British National Party (BNP) had 55 councillors around the country and was about to gain two MEPs, Nick Griffin and Andrew Brons. Now three councillors and one MEP remain. Brons is one of many who have left or been expelled from the party. Griffin is bankrupt and the BNP’s chances of holding a seat in Brussels this May are nil.

The English Defence League is in no better shape since its leader, Tommy Robinson, quit in a blaze of publicity and was jailed last month for mortgage fraud.

Finally, there is the National Front, a force in the 1970s, and in 2012 it looked as if it might revive as the BNP disintegrated.

Now it too has split, with the factions threatening to go to court over which of them is the rightful party.

Official NF chairman Ian Edward ruefully posted a message on the party’s website saying there will be “zero” NF candidates in this year’s local elections.