Cameron must act

December 15, 2011

Another week, another apology. Beyond the apologies and chronology, however, the two cases have nothing in common. Mr Flynn uttered a series of classic antisemitic canards. Mr Burley's behaviour was rather different.

One wonders at the mindset of anyone who thinks it appropriate to wear a Nazi uniform to a party; yet otherwise normal people, such as Ed Balls and Prince Harry, have done just that. Neither of them, however, took part in toasts to the spirit of the Third Reich. But when Mr Burley's friends started shouting "Hitler, Hitler, Hitler" and making such toasts, the Conservative MP simply sat there. And then paid the bill.

Now he says he is sorry and should have said something at the time. That is the least of it. This was not a random group of strangers. These were some of his closest friends and he did not bat an eyelid. At the very least, Mr Burley has shown staggeringly bad judgment. Saying sorry now is easy. If he had any sense of propriety he would resign from his position as PPS to the Transport Secretary. But he is not the only Conservative politician whose behaviour must be questioned.

Is this the face of a modern, tolerant Conservative Party? Yet there has been not a word of criticism from any of his fellow Conservative MPs. Ed Miliband was rightly criticised for his failure to condemn Paul Flynn. But David Cameron is happy for Mr Burley to remain a member of his government.

That is, by degrees, still more disturbing.

Last updated: 11:32am, December 15 2011