London Mayor Boris Johnson rejected criticism of the Olympic opening ceremony by a fellow Conservative lawmaker who described it as “leftie multicultural crap.”
Aidan Burley, who was dismissed from a ministerial job in Prime Minister David Cameron’s government last year for attending a Nazi-themed stag party, used the Twitter social media site to criticize the show as it was being broadcast live to more than a billion viewers around the world late yesterday. He later posted another message saying he had been misunderstood and intended to criticize the show, not multiculturalism.
“It was actually the truth about this country in the last two or three hundred years told in a big, dynamic way,” Johnson told ITV News. “People say it was all leftie stuff. That is nonsense. I’m a Conservative and I had hot tears of patriotic pride from the beginning.”
The show featured a sweep through British history and celebrated the achievements of people with immigrant heritage in the U.K., including the engineer Isambard Kingdom Brunel, rapper Dizzee Rascal and choreographer Akram Khan. The Royal Air Force Red Arrow aerobatic team flew over the stadium to open the ceremony.
“Thank God the athletes have arrived!” Burley tweeted. “Now we can move on from leftie multi-cultural crap. Bring back Red Arrows, Shakespeare and the Stones! The most leftie opening ceremony I have ever seen - more than Beijing, the capital of a communist state!”
The main opposition Labour Party called on Cameron to force a full apology from Burley.
`Ignorant and Offensive'
“Burley has got form,” Labour lawmaker Michael Dugher said in an e-mailed statement. “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.”
Cameron’s office directed callers to a tweet the prime minister sent after the show which showed he disagreed with Burley.
“The opening ceremony has been a great showcase for this country,” the prime minister wrote. “It’s more proof Britain can deliver.”
To contact the reporter on this story: Thomas Penny in London at firstname.lastname@example.org
To contact the editor responsible for this story: James Hertling at email@example.com