Are you thinking what Aidan Burley was thinking?

4 August 2012

10:30 AM

4 August 2012

10:30 AM

When you are not a part of the Tory tribe there are certain subjects you worry about mentioning as journalist, whether it’s at a Conservative Party conference, or indeed, on a blog for the Spectator. One is Europe, another is immigration and a third is multiculturalism. These three interlocking bogies drive the Tory grassroots and emerge, from time to time, to trouble the party leadership. The views of constituency activists on these issues (and people who like to comment on the Spectator site) can be fruity, but I have been talking to Tories for long enough to know that they can be genuinely passionate about this stuff.

It was once a mantra of the Tory modernisers that dog-whistle politics was a mug’s game, as most people knew what the Conservatives thought on subjects such as crime and immigration. The process of detoxification led these issues to slip out of polite conversation during the early years of the Cameron era. Even Europe came to be seen as a distraction. The Prime Minister may yet pay a heavy price for this strategy and conference season will be a real test, but I believe it was a genuine attempt to save his party from its least attractive instincts.


This brings me to Aidan Burley, a man who thinks that it’s fine to knock around with people who dress as Nazis. So comprehensive was his humiliation after this incident that some people around Westminster actually began to feel sorry for him. No longer. Last week he decided to embarrass himself on an international stage with his comments on Twitter about the Olympics opening ceremony and multiculturalism.

It is tempting at this stage to say to my friends on the right: ‘We’ll have Danny Boyle and you can keep Aidan Burley’. But that would be a cheap shot. It is much more serious for David Cameron if the perception grows that Burley more accurately represents the instincts of his party than the Prime Minister. Every party has its clowns and I have highlighted the antics of Pippa Bartolotti, who is standing for the Green Party leadership, in my Jewish Chronicle column this week. I also understand that definitions of ‘multiculturalism’ have such a range – stretching from cultural separatism to living together in peace and harmony – that it can mean almost anything.

A week on from the Olympic opening ceremony, the full scale of the stupidity of Aidan Burley’s comments is now making itself clear. Team GB is the best kind of multiculturalism in action. Modern Britain has cheered home a German-born cyclist with a distinctly Teutonic accent and is preparing to celebrate an asylum seeker from Somalia as our greatest ever long-distance runner. Meanwhile, are you Tories thinking what Aidan Burley was thinking? If you want to win the next election, I hope for your own sake you are not.

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Show comments
  • rndtechnologies786

    Nice blog.

  • redplanet

    Do you mean, shall I rush out and hire some uniforms and organise a nazi-themed party? Er…no.

  • roger

    Burley could have got the organisers to re-introduce the Olympic salute, if you don’t know look it up.
    I watched it in Croatia where the flashes of popular British cultural references left most people looking lost but they liked the spectacular forging of the rings (or was that a Tolkien reference I added myself?) Olde England and Empire are gone, lost when we meddled in continental war, just lie back and laugh.

  • Mike

    Martin, the problem is that socialists believe that before 1945 Britain was a benighted country. Socialists have criticised all aspects of culture with which they disagree. If Britain is so racist why have so many foreigners wanted to move here rather than other countries? If the British Empire was so awful why did the largest volunteer armies in both WW1 and 2, were able to be raised from India and why did so many Indian soldiers perform acts of bravery which led to the award of gallantry medals ? Why did soldiers from West Africa volunteer and fight bravely in Burma? why have the Indian and Pakistani armies maintained so many traditions of the British Army? If white Britains were so racist, why did white British Officers of the Indian Army and Civil Service have such respect for those in their command and take such great lengths to learn languages?ICS officers had to speak four Indian Languages ( SOAS was set to aid this function). Even after capture by the Japanese , relatively few Indians joined them. The reality is that is that if one is working with people from different cultures in stressful situations ( war for example), if one is a leader and racist then this will cripple the effectiveness of the unit. The reality is that hardly any left wing writer had experience of command in any civil or military unit in the British Empire and therefore has no first hand experience of what happened .
    What British people want is that those born here are first in line to obtain housing; all foreigners have to be fluent in English to become citizens; British history is taught without it becoming socialist propoganda; British culture and traditions take precedence and foreigners have to adapt to our way of life if native born Britons require it ; everyone has to study the history, culture and traditions of Britain and this takes precedence over the study of other cultures:all Britons first loyalty is to this country; immigration does not reduce peoples income; immigration does not hinder the education of British born children: immigration does not lead to overcrowding and destruction of the green belt: Britain has the final say whether foreignes have the right of abode. Immigration must benefit the least educated, skilled and poorest native born Britons if it is to be acceptable and not just provide cheap labour for employers.

  • Nicholas

    You seem to have no awareness that Burley’s reaction was perfectly reflected by the reactions of all the usual lefty suspects who claimed the ceremony as their own. Two sides of the same coin, but rather typical of a lefty to attempt to secure the moral high ground.

    I’m left wondering if any lefty scribbler can mention Burley without the Nazi angle, but of course that would miss the opportunity for a bit of exploitative subliminal messaging about the nasty Tories.

  • Wilhelm

    Testing 123

  • David Webb

    You are assuming that every Englishman is delighted to see a Somali representing Britain in Team GB. I’m not. I’d rather Britain won no medals than see such a traducing of our national identity.

    • roger

      Wasn’t Somalia British? Are my 1950s history and geography books all wrong?
      For a multi-national yet British culture you should have seen the 1957 World Scout Jamboree in Sutton Park.

  • wrinkledweasel

    The Tories will not win the next election precisely because they offer no real alternative to Labour or the Dim Lebs. The Gillian Duffys of this country are legion and find themselves unable to understand why their party, any party is not addressing the issues.

    As for Danny Boyle, he’s up there with Leni Riefenstahl in the propaganda stakes.

  • Mr Grumpy

    If you didn’t like the opening ceremony you must be a bit of a Nazi. Whose dog-whistle?

  • Mr Grumpy

    If you didn’t like the opening ceremony you must be a bit of a Nazi. Whose dog-whistle?

  • Ru

    I was thinking what Aidan Burley was thinking I’m afraid.

    It wasn’t multicultural, it was multicultural propaganda, there is a difference.

  • Joe Quinnaside

    “One is Europe, another is immigration and a third is multiculturalism. These three interlocking bogies drive the Tory grassroots…”

    Hmmm. This ‘drive’? Not the most dynamic of forces then?

  • Mark Holland

    “a German-born cyclist with a distinctly Teutonic accent” Who exactly is this mysterious cyclist then?

    • RichardH

      Philip Hindes, team sprint man 1. Born in Germany to a British soldier and his German wife. He’s 19 and only moved to the UK 2 years ago.

  • Asmodeus

    It seems that some of the homies in the Tory ghetto are still feeling dissed by the Olympic opening ceremony.The rest of the country has moved on and is enjoying the triumph of team GB.

  • simone.s.

    “Mo Farah, Greg Rutherford, Jessica Ennis – multicultural Britain at its best”

    Multicultural? Greg Rutherford and Jessica Ennis were born here and have a British cultural background.

    Okay, Mo Farah is a Muslim of sorts, but he is married to a British woman with the name of Tania.
    A good example of assimilation then.

  • simone.s.

    Outside the Olympic Park there is a massive Muslim population. Were they part of the Olympic Opening Ceremony? I don’t think so.
    Where was Islam mentioned?

    I’m not saying it should have been; far from it. I’m glad that the Opening Ceremony contained Christian hymns, and that the young volunteers of different races were all dancing together.

    But don’t get carried away, Martin. Every time a gold medal is won by an ethnic minority, it is not a victory for Labour policies of mass immigration and multiculturalism. It is a personal victory for the athlete, and nothing to do with politics.

    The results of Labour policies are outside the gates of the park; praying in the streets and speaking foreign languages. Separated from the majority culture.

    • roger

      The singing of ‘Abide with me’ was the highlight of the show, Islam was not missed for a second.
      As i write this i can hear a muezzin calling out from a minaret, i am currently in Bosnia.

  • Ru

    I suspect that Aidan Burley was objecting to the self-conscious and contrived multiculturalism of the opening ceremony where all the British flag bearers were foreign and most of the modern family were cast for their colour. Fewer people have a problem with the natural multiculturalism that occurs without state intervention.

  • Ru

    I don’t really get this issue people have with people dressing up as Nazis at fancy dress parties. Presumably they are not dressing that way to show their admiration of them but to take the p*ss out of them. Lest we forget, British people suffered at their hands and they have every right to exorcise those demons. When did making fun of your enemies go out of favour in this country?

    • Hugh

      If it prevents repeats of ‘Allo ‘Allo it’s not all bad.

    • roger

      Did nobody ever see ‘Allo,Allo’? the PC classes forget what Britain was like only 40 years ago. Britain has changed (always for the better?) so much I hardly recognise it.

  • simone.s.

    I think the extreme reactions to one comment on Twitter are sillier than the comment itself.

    The comment was silly because the Opening Ceremony was not at all multicultural. If it had been, we would have seen African drummers and Indian dancing and it would have been multi-religious rather than Christian.
    No, it was showing the world that we are a monoculture; everyone has assimilated into Western popular culture. That’s untrue, of course, because our towns and cities are facing increasing segregation, but it was a lie that most of us were happy to go along with. We felt good about ourselves for a while, and that was a cosy feeling.

    I suppose the same can be said for the achievements at the Olympics; they make us feel good about ourselves for a while.

  • Sarah Brown
    • Daniel Maris

      I am not sure what you think that proves. Apart from a few out and out racists, most people aren’t concerned about skin colour, which has nothing to do with culture. They are concerned about not having their own culture pushed to one side – and others with alien values (e.g. mutilating women, aborting female foetuses, honour-killing women, murdering cartoonists, stopping their children partaking in athletics or dance, insisting on marriages to spouses from abroad etc) being allowed to gain a foothold and more in this country.

      • Sarah Brown

        I had in mind that terrible Daily Mail article about the implausibility of such a mixed race relationship being presented in the OC.

        • Ru

          The mixed race family, despite being contrived, was one thing, but when the boyfriend was a black Portuguese immigrant too, you start to wonder what the message is – that white people are the past?

          While both of the first two acts were unracist, and black and Chinese people made up an I accurately large partof the cast, the third act and the arrival of the windrush were entirely racist with white people being superfluous. That didn’t happen by accident, this was no acknowledgement of multiculturalism, it was racist casting to promote a particular political agenda. And what I found odd about it was that it totally ignored the very real contribution that so may other races have made to the East End of London such as Jewish and S.E.Asian people. The ceremony definitely favoured black people which doesn’t strike me as diverse or honest.

          • Eddie

            A good point – which I am always making. Black people are 3% of the UK population, I believe. South-Asians are 4%+; Chinese are 1%. Yet when they choose an ethnic face for diversity reasons on TV it is almost always an afro-carribean: the race which is massively favoured and over-represented on TV.
            Why? Well, it’s apeing the USA which has 12-13% black people – and trying to get black people in the same numbers as in Hollywood films andpop music and sport.
            Also, most stage schools (and the X factor, Pop Idol etc) are chock-full of black wannabees – NOT Asians or assorted Orientals. Why? Because the Asians expect their kids to work work work – either on their studies to be a doctor/accountant/IT specialist/lawyer – or if they are dim, to work in the family shop, or do their familial and religious duties.
            But yes, black people are MASSIVELY over-represented on TV and in adverts and magazines etc – and it is NOT racist to say so. In fact. it is racist NOT to point this out – because at present, Asians and Chinese persons are massively under-represented, as are white people from certain regions in the UK (the Welsh are 5% of the UK population, so there should be a Welsh person for every black person on TV – though yes, I know there are black people in Wales, though only 3% of Wales is ethnic: one reason so many English come here – to get away from the multi-culti hell of English cities and the home town I can no longer afford to live in: London).

        • Eddie

          Yes, and 10% of families in the UK have a mixed race member; which means 90% do not.
          Some of us (non-racist, liberal-minded, tolerant) are sick and tired to the patronising lecturing and talking-down-to by idiot diversity trainers, BBC diversity-obsessed muppets and various assorted other sanctimonious prats. These people need their heros (Seacole et al) and they need their momentous moments (Windrush) however fictitious – and they want to exaggerate immigration to the UK because their agenda is more and more immigration.
          The argument is: we are a nation of immigrants and had no culture before immigrants so let’s have lots more! Now, if you agree with this PC view than you must also agree that the same can be said of ALL countries, including those in Africa and Asia. And yet, the same people who love it when people from those continents come to Europe hate it when white people go to Asia or Africa and do not truly believe any white can be African or Asian (though any African or Asian who washes up here can claim to be British, according to them!)
          There is an agenda here – that is all I am saying – and the extent of black/Asian people in the UK population is massively exaggerated, esp for black people (maybe because there are so many in sport, showbiz and US movies?); south Asians outnumber blacks 2 or 3-1 in the UK. So why so many black faces on TV all the time? And why is the news and weather and children’s BBC almost always presented by ethnic minorities?
          Britain is mostly white and British – let’s say 95% white – and this shopuld be reflected on screen, not any other political fantasy imposed on the reality. We really are not as ‘multi-culti’ as some think (way less than France for example, yet half of their TV newsreaders are not black/asian.
          The worship of diversity is just that: it has become like some kind of religious cult and no-one can dare challenge it without being branded a racist and hurting their career. (Happily, in places like France and mainland Europe, commone sense still rules, and they believe in integration not segregation through diversity and multiculturalism – seen as a righyt-wing view here, but not there!)

  • Amicus

    Good chap, this Burley fellow.

    • Pete

      Good for the Labour Party that is.

  • Sarah Brown

    No I am not thinking what AB was thinking. (I seem to be about the only one though.) Good post on Pippa Bartolotti too.

  • John Lea

    I think when British viewers see Shakespeare getting 10 seconds and some nonentity called ‘Dizzee Rascal’ getting five minutes, they begin to suspect that it has more to do with tokenism and advertising our right-on credentials to the rest of the world. I half expected the London olympics themselves to be ‘non-competitive’, with no one getting any medals in case it upset the people who came in last.

    • DGS

      Don’t be so ignorant. Dizzee Rascal has achieved both popularity and critical acclaim. He is a Mercury prize winner who has had a major influence on audiences and fellow artists. Instead of resorting to fogeyism, perhaps you should have the curiosity to do some checking up on those you so breezily dismiss? As for Shakespeare, he provided the inspiration for Boyle’s Isles of Wonder theme, so was central to the whole ceremony.

      • simone.s.

        Dizzee Rascal is a mercury prize winner? Well excuse me if I don’t think that is especially impressive.

        He was chosen because he is from Bow. And he ticks a lot of boxes.

      • John Lea

        DGS – I assume the reason why Milton, Wordsworth, Shelley, Purcell, Elgar were all similarly omitted was because they too had failed to win a coveted Mercury Award. Churchill got three seconds, mind, so I assume he must have been nominated for a MoJo at some point. Good to see you’re setting the criteria for artistic achievement at a high level. Respect!

      • Daniel Johnson

        Yo, i don’t promote no violence but if that boy gets arrogant O
        leave that boy in the basement so,
        done with the bat get up jus walk
        i’m not a female beater but if that girl gets facety O

        slap that girl all hasty cos she might be buff but she’s not ruff

        Yo, yo i dont obey no policemen cos they forget they’re human uh
        get excited quickly but, he aint got a gun i’ll kick him and run (tell him)
        don’t talk to me about roaming cos queen elizabeth dont know me so
        how can she control me when i live street and she lives neat

        Uh uh uh uh (whaaat) uh uh (im your fitness instructor) uh uh uh uh
        (i jus wanna make my money, you make yours) uh uh uh uh uh uh uh
        (it’s time for some exercise) uh uh uh (what) uh uh uh uh (make money
        or shut up) uh uh uh uh uh

        “2 Far” – Dizze Rascal

  • coventrian

    ‘It is tempting at this stage to say to my friends on the right..’

    What other friends do you have?

  • Daniel Maris

    Your problem is that if you asked the average (non immigrant) Labour voter what they think about mass immigration, Europe and mutliculturalism you’d get the same answers you ascribe to Tories – remember that “bigot” (Gillian Duffy) who Gordon Brown had to apologise to?
    So, unfortunately, at the heart of your argument is the beating muscle of contradiction.

  • Mark

    So Martin Bright is suggesting that some beliefs are somehow not only unspeakable, but now unthinkable. We are truly on a slippery slope here.

  • The Voice of Free Speech

    In a week where we have seen the conviction of yet more ethnic peadophiles and child killers, related to culture rather than deviance; and the continued squandering of cash in the monster of the NHS, I don’t think it is Mr Burley who is stupid. The writer should stop studying his reflection in distorted mirrors and study history instead of fantasy ideology.

    The Olympics, along with the Jubilee, has reclaimed, our NATIONAL pride (and not from the opening Marxist wet dream), just listen to the crowd singing !! We don’t care where people come from if they sign up to British values and input into the wellbeing of British society, if the writer knew more about British history, he’d know that. What Mr Burley was talking about, and many, many, many agree is that what we don’t want is those who do the opposite of the above ie the left’s multiculturalism. And, in addition, we don’t really want the traitors, born here or not, who promote it !!!

  • edithgrove

    The Olympic opening ceremony was a provincial affair. Bad theatre with a couple of cheap jokes. The rest of the world has been kind and called this eccentrically British. Whether it was too left or too right is much lower down on the list by which time its own banality had made it insignificant. Our nationalism (and yours, Mr Bright) has made criticism of this spectacle unacceptable and Burley may well pay a heavy price for this.

    • Alison

      I’m not sure why it was bad theatre or why the jokes were cheap. You didn’t say. Good to have a bit of humour injected, in my opinion.

      There’s been no shortage of criticism of the ceremony. Unfortunately, too many of the UK critics seem unable to give a balanced view and separate the good from the bad. The “rest of the world” were not being “kind”, they simply kept a sense of proportion instead of throwing a hissy fit over the obvious politicking, so please don’t try to recuit them to your cause. The cauldron, arguably the high point of the ceremony, was an inspired bit of design in my opinion but no, let’s just harp on about the NHS and the rap.

      I’m no fan of either the NHS or rap (to put it mildly) but, at the end of the day it was just a show directed by someone whose politics I don’t happen to agree with, but far better than a thinly disguised totalitarian military parade. I can live with that and reflect on its numerous good points.

      • edithgrove

        I didn’t mention the NHS, rap, or the cauldron, but don’t let that stop you.

        • Alison

          No, you didn’t mention anything much. Just a few weak generalisations.

    • Eddie

      The ceremony was no more provincial than the ceremonies in Athens, Sydney or Peking (which was full-on humourless Nuremburg-style nationalism and tub-thumping!).
      The French called it provincial – well, that’s because they have been sulking since 2005 when the games went to London and not the favourite Paris. If the ceremony had been in France, it would have been WAY more provincial and parochial and nationalistic (as well as arrogant, pompous and humourless).
      It’s about time the world was reminded that Britain did in fact invent the modern world – consumerism, industry, technology, rule of manmade law, human rights etc – so good to remind the people who think stupidly that the USA created everything.

  • Kevin

    “a man who thinks that it’s fine to knock around with people who dress as Nazis”

    As opposed to an entire party that thinks it is fine to sing The Red Flag.

    • Marcus

      ….and celebrate the KGB funded CND movement.

      • Angharad

        I can think of at least one member of Labour – Ed Balls – who dressed up as a nazi at a university party.

        • Frank P

          He’s a ringer for Goebbels anyway, in appearance and attitude

          • wrinkledweasel

            It’s the “Third Reich” haircut. Honestly, I don’t understand why nobody has told him.

  • Marcus

    Martin, either purposefully or otherwise you have not got the point of Aidan Burley’s comments.

    Left wing multicultural crap is promoting an English rapper who sings songs about mugging and assaulting an innocent couple (google ‘dizzee – sirens’ if you don’t beleive me) at the opening ceremony.
    Many countries have counter culture, America invented rap and yet we were the only country who promoted it at the Olympic opening ceremony.

    Team GB IS a an example of the good aspects of immigration and integration.

    However, Italian food is an example of the good side of Italian immigration to the USA, organised crime a bad side. Was one worth the other?

    The Left think that immigration is obligatory and any negative effects are unforeseeable. The right think the reverse.

  • MikeF

    “Team GB is the best kind of multiculturalism in action.” Is it? I would have thought it was an example of how a single ‘culture’ – in this case that of competitive athleticism involving a mix of real talent and dedicated training – can transcend ethnicity and make the racial origins of the people involved utterly irrelevant. If anything it is a microscopic vindication of Norman Tebbit’s observation that a multi-racial society need not be multicultural or at least not in the sense that the the term is understood by the left – that of a society composed of different ethnically-defined interest groups with no sense of shared identity, loyalty or values. As for Burley – his party antics show him to be a bit of a prat but his criticism of the opening ceremony was essentially that parts of it were a form of saccharine-coated sectarianism in which left-wing politics were given the Walt Disney treratment. Do you think that perception to be false?

    • MC2

      That’s a brilliant comment Mike. Spot on.

      • MikeF

        Thanks MC – and another thing about Team GB that is the antithesis of multi-culturalism, and I am sure Eddie will agree with this, there are no ethnic quotas. Everyone is there for their ability.

    • Halcyondaze2

      How dare you Bright. Aidan Burley is entitled to his opinion – and to voice it – whether you find it acceptable or not. And the fact is hundreds of thousands of people DO agree with him and support his freedom of speech to say what he believes. We’re sick to death of being patronised, manipulated and bullied by people like you into thinking the way you want us to. YES we ARE thinking what Burley was thinking – we’re sick and tired of being force-fed the multicultural agenda – and that’s precisely the reason why the days of Cameron’s Conservatives are numbered.

    • Eddie

      Actually, the opening ceremony was anti-multicultural, not multicultural at all.
      It showed children of immigrants (like me) fully integrated and assimilated into British society. This cosmopolitan integration is not the aim of the ideology of multiculturalism which is: segregation into separate communities whose diversity must be celebrated and whose religions/traditions/ways must always be promoted as equivalent to, and of the same importance as, native Britiish culture/tradition/ways which have been around for centuries. It has failed.
      It was thus, in many ways, an Olympics that showed the integrationist way of doing things (which individuals have followed naturally despite state encouragement and funding for them to speak immigrant languages and live isolated separate lives) works much better that our out-dated and counter-productive multiculturalist modus operandi.
      This was an anti-multicultural and pro-integration olympics.
      However, there are still very many people out there who have been born and brought up in the UK who do not see themselves as in any way British (and will support anyone Team GB are competing against) and who, in some cases (15% of Muslims for example) will actively support any terrorist act against the country that has given them so much.
      It is time to stop turning a blind eye perhaps and to dump the failed experiment of multiculturalism – which in a racist fashion has different standards for different ethnic groups (eg no whites would be allowed to force their 13 year old daughters into marriage! Or perform exorcisms on little children in African witchdoctor churches in London) and instead to roll out a new integrationist policy: when in Rome… The French have got this right; we have got this SO VERY WRONG.
      The opening ceremony was actually integrationist – and NOT traditionally British multiculturalist (there were no separate tribes of ethnic and religious groups wearing burkas and never talking to each other, and not learning English but expecting translations of all announcements into 34 languages…)