Time to resign, Aidan Burley

By Martin Bright, December 15, 2011

Sixty years on from the end of the Second World War, Britain's role in the defeat of Nazism still dominates our national character. The evocation by some of the Churchillian "bulldog" spirit in the aftermath of David Cameron's Eurozone veto demonstrates how powerful such historical imagery remains. The timing of the Mail on Sunday's revelations about the Nazi-themed stag night attended by Conservative MP Aidan Burley could not have been more embarrassing for the Prime Minister.

Aidan Burley has amplified his apology and emphasised that he now knows he should have walked away from someone dressed as an SS officer. Most decent people do not have such friends. But Mr Burley remained at a restaurant table as his tablemates cheered the names of Himmler and Eichmann, two men directly responsible for the Holocaust. He raised no objection to a toast to the Third Reich. And then he paid the bill.

Astonishingly, this man still holds a government post as Parliamentary Private Secretary to Transport Secretary Justine Greening. As Mr Burley now recognises, his actions will be particularly repellent to Britain's Jews. But this is not just a Jewish issue. The Tory MP for Cannock Chase chose to participate in a celebration of this country's historic enemies. In France, which suffered the humiliation of occupation by the Nazis, such treachery is a criminal offence.

Mr Burley is clearly a very silly man. He has disgraced his country and his party. His apology shows he is deeply ashamed. He should save the Prime Minister further embarrassment and resign as PPS to Ms Greening.

But this is the second week in a row the JC has reported a UK politician apologising to the Jewish community. Last week it was Labour Paul Flynn atoning for comments he had made about the alleged "dual loyalty" of the UK's first Jewish ambassador to Israel Matthew Gould. The most worrying aspect of this whole business is how unshockable people are. The Paul Flynn story made barely a ripple in the national media and not a single frontline Conservative politician has come forward to condemn Mr Burley's actions.

The incident was not mentioned at this week's Conservative Friends of Israel business lunch. It is not just Mr Flynn and Mr Burley who should be ashamed.

Last updated: 1:57pm, December 15 2011