Hunt: Burley's comments absolute nonsense
Jeremy Hunt has dismissed Aidan Burley's comments about the Olympics opening ceremony as "absolute nonsense", and insisted his fellow Tory MP "does not speak for the Conservative party".
Mr Burley - who was fired as a PPS in December for taking part in a Nazi-themed stag party - prompted outrage last night after lambasting the ceremony as “leftie multi-cultural crap”.
During the event Mr Burley tweeted: "The most leftie opening ceremony I have ever seen - more than Beijing, the capital of a communist state! Welfare tribute next?"
However the Culture Secretary said the event was "a wonderful occasion" that "wasn't about politics".
"Absolute nonsense. It wasn’t party political, it wasn’t ideological. Last night was a night when the whole country came together. He doesn’t speak for, certainly not for the Government, or for the Conservative party," he told BBC News.
"You had the Royal family, James Bond, we remembered people who made the ultimate sacrifice in war time, we remembered the NHS, and we remembered our great British entertainment industry. It was all there."
London Mayor Boris Johnson this morning praised the “absolutely fantastic” ceremony, and told BBC News Mr Burley's opinion was "not the reaction I saw last night.”
Former Mayor Ken Livingstone also praised the “amazing evening”, and claimed Mr Burley was “off the wall”.
“I just think that is someone who, basically, is off another planet. It’s like something out of Britain 50 years ago. It’s not where we are today,” he said.
Downing Street last night distanced itself from Mr Burley's comments, however Labour’s Michael Dugher has called on David Cameron to “show some leadership and demand a full apology from Aidan Burley immediately”.
But the Tory MP has defended his controversial remarks, claiming the event was “overtly political”.
“In the beginning we had this wonderful recreation of Britain’s industrial heritage and then suddenly it turned into a very overtly political, I thought, opening ceremony with a CND sign being lit up,” he told Sky News.
“Before the NHS we had a CND sign for 20 minutes. I’m not sure the campaign for nuclear disarmament, which spectacularly failed, was a major highlight of our history in the last 200 years.”
He also claimed the tweet about multiculturalism was a reference to the use of rap music in the ceremony.
“I’m from Birmingham myself and I support strongly multiculturalism,” he said.
“What I was trying to get across is that I thought the way that that was portrayed in the opening ceremony was rather trite.
“I mean we had a huge focus on rap music. Rap music, I’ve said, is a small part of our culture. It’s only something that’s come in in the last 20-30 years, it’s not enjoyed by a huge majority of people.”