The Mail On Sunday was never going to go quietly, even after Aidan Burley, he of the now-infamous Nazi-themed stag party in the French alpine resort of Val Thorens, had announced last week that he would not contest the Cannock Chase seat at next year’s General Election. So it has proved, with another kick at the departing Burley in today’s edition, claiming that he was pushed.
Last week, the impression was given that Burley had made the decision himself, and this was the line from the perpetually thirsty Paul Staines and his rabble at the Guido Fawkes blog. Staines himself had been for a drink with Burley, this after previously praising Simon Walters, the MoS’ political editor, whose behaviour was alleged to have contributed to the pressure on the MP to stand down.
But it seems Burley conned even The Great Guido, if the MoS article is right. “Aidan Burley was summoned to a Downing Street showdown after The Mail on Sunday revealed he had failed to tell the truth to an official Tory Party inquiry into the matter ... The Cannock Chase MP insisted he had not lied and made it clear he wanted to hang on to his seat” readers are told.
“But, after further discussions involving Mr Cameron’s senior officials, it was decided he should step down at the next General Election. ‘There were just too many inconsistencies in his story,’ said one insider. Eventually, Mr Burley decided to throw in the towel and stand down”. That’s not quite a concrete “he was pushed”, but near enough to tell that Burley was left in no doubt as to the action required of him.
The only thing that is unusual about the piece is that Walters didn’t write it. But then, he may be working away on the next instalment, because the MoS has given notice to Burley and the Tory Party that it is not going to let the matter rest. After a rambling smear of the Leveson Inquiry, Mail On Sunday Comment tells both parties of its next move, which will drag in yet more unwitting participants.
“Neither Mr Burley, nor David Cameron, nor Lord Gold come out of this well. Mr Burley lied, Lord Gold’s sketchy inquiry accepted those lies without making serious efforts to discover the truth, so damaging the reputation of the honest witnesses whose testimony he so airily dismissed. The PM willingly swallowed the mess which Lord Gold placed in front of him. Mr Burley’s Cannock Chase Conservative Association did the same” is the rumble of discontent.
“The Mail on Sunday intends to pursue this, and has written to Grant Shapps MP, the Tory Party Chairman, asking him in detail what he plans to do to correct the false impression of events given by Lord Gold’s inadequate and one-sided investigation”. So Shapps the spiv is being roped in. The MoS must have more to tell.
We have a whole week to get the popcorn in. This one could run and run.