Labour have launched a fund-raising campaign to unseat Conservative MP Aidan Burley following his claim that the Olympic opening ceremony was “leftie multicultural crap”.
High-profile MP Tom Watson (Lab West Bromwich East) has donated £100 to a fund named “Bye Bye Burley”, set up by left-wing blog LabourList and the local Labour constituency party.
The party believes it is on course to take Mr Burley’s seat of Cannock Chase, in Staffordshire, after the MP was widely condemned for the Olympic comment, which followed controversy over a Nazi-themed party he attended last year.
Cash raised will be to support Labour’s general election candidate, who is set to be appointed on September 8.
Labour councillor George Adamson, leader of Cannock Chase Council, said: “Since the weekend I have had people coming up to me, including people who voted Conservative in 2010, asking when we are going to get rid of him.”
Mr Burley has come under fire from a range of critics in his own party following his comments about the Olympic opening ceremony – including David Cameron, who came close to taking a four-letter swipe at the MP.
Speaking during a visit to the Olympic Park, the Conservative leader said: “What he said was completely wrong. I think an idiotic thing to say.
"I did once say something about people who use Twitter, particularly politicians, and I think in this case I was absolutely spot on.”
While he did not repeat the word on this occasion, Mr Cameron was referring to a comment he made in 2009 when he told a radio interviewer: “Too many tweets make a t**t”.
The MP faces a battle to hang on to his seat, which he won with a majority of just 3,185 in 2010, after Labour MPs and bloggers launched an internet-based fundraising campaign to depose him.
Having taken control of Cannock Chase council in local elections in May this year, Labour is confident of winning back the Parliamentary seat, which it held from 1992 to 2010, at the next general election.
Mr Burley’s fiercest critics include former footballer Stan Collymore, who grew up in Cannock and played junior football for the Cannock Peelers before enjoying a glittering professional career as a striker for teams including Liverpool and Aston Villa.
Mr Collymore, a former England international who is now a successful broadcaster, condemned the MP on Twitter, declaring: “The ceremony showed accurately who we are now and where we’ve come from and where we want to go. Burley wants to take us back 100 years. Fool.”
He added: “How a proud former mining town ever managed to vote for an odious uber right wing Tory is beyond me” – and suggested he could stand against Mr Burley himself, warning: “I’ll happily stand against you at the next election. You have no clue about our town or its people. Game on.”
But the MP was also criticised by many Conservatives. London Tory MP Gavin Barwell (Con Croydon Central) said: “With respect, us Londoners are rather proud of the diversity of our city.”
Paul Goodman, a former Tory MP and now Executive Editor of Conservative Home, an influential Conservative website, said that anyone who detested the Olympic ceremony probably also detested “a very great deal about modern Britain”.
In an article for the website, he argued that Mr Burley’s tweets “seemed to me to sum up much that’s gone wrong for the Conservative cause during the past quarter-century: the apparent belief that tweets or e-mails don’t have consequences; the use of verbal sledgehammers to try to pick a lock... the catastrophic timing; the playing into the hands of the left, which greeted his tweets with exploitative joy.”
Labour nationally has called on David Cameron to demand a formal apology from the MP.
Michael Dugher, a member of Labour leader Ed Miliband’s Shadow Cabinet, said: “David Cameron should show some leadership and demand a full apology from Aidan Burley immediately.
“Burley has got form. His comments were stupid, ignorant and offensive.
“David Cameron has said that the Conservative party has changed but it is clear from the words of his own MP that not a lot has changed.”
Mr Burley made his comments on internet messaging service Twitter as the Olympic opening ceremony was taking place.
In the first, apparently referring to a sequence involving NHS staff, he said: “The most leftie opening ceremony I have ever seen – more than Beijing, the capital of a communist state! Welfare tribute next?”
Later, he added: “Thank God the athletes have arrived! Now we can move on from leftie multi-cultural crap. Bring back red arrows, Shakespeare and the Stones!”
In an interview the next day, the MP suggested his comments had been misunderstood but stood by them.
He said: “We all love the NHS but really for all the people watching overseas, 20 minutes of children and nurses jumping on beds, that seems quite strange.
“And then we had all these rappers – that is what got me to the point about multiculturalism.”
Some left-wing commentators appeared to endorse the idea that the opening ceremony had been left-wing. Musician Billy Bragg said on Twitter: “You Tory toe-rags had the Jubilee, we lefties are having the Olympics opening ceremony.”
Backbench Labour MP Paul Flynn claimed: “Wonderfully progressive socialist sentiments and ideas were smuggled into the opening romp.”
As well as tributes to Britain’s state-financed healthcare system, the opening ceremony featured a sequence showing Victorian-era entrepreneurs and employees creating modern Britain during the industrial revolution.
David Cameron previously sacked Mr Burley from his job as an aide to Transport Secretary Justine Greening after it emerged he hired a Nazi uniform for a stag do, in the skiing resort of Val Thorens last December, where the groom dressed as an SS officer.
But the Conservative Party is refusing to publish the findings of an internal party inquiry into the affair, saying it cannot comment until an inquiry by French police into the incident is completed.
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