Modern politicians are often accused of only being in the job for themselves. Tory Aidan Burley did nothing to allay those concerns as he bowed out of life in Westminster yesterday after just five years in the job. He gave two fingers up to the electorate when he used his valedictory speech to bemoan rude constituents and low pay for MPs before writing Parliament off as a “mad house”.
Speaking in the Commons he described himself as a “humble lad from Birmingham” before going on to thank his father “whose donation of a week’s holiday in his villa in Bali raised the most amount of money of any of our auction prizes in my [election] campaign.”
Burley also took the time to thank his sister Briar and brother-in-law Rick, to whom he awarded “the prize for the best letter to the editor of the local paper, saying that as the new MP for Cannock Chase I should get a Staffordshire bull terrier and name it Chevy Chase, which I promised to do, but did not—typical politician!”
He said he was proud of his achievements as an MP, but added that for him the highlight of his time in Parliament had been his “wonderful wedding in the Crypt last August – a truly magnificent venue and a day we will never forget.”
Burley’s constituents did get a brief mention, but only for having caused his wife much trouble as she battled to run his constituency office: “I thank my wife Jodie, who is sitting in the Gallery and who has worked for more than four years as the manager of my constituency office, the MP help zone,” he said. “Dealing with some of the most complex cases and often the rudest and most awkward constituents, she has maintained a quiet dignity and poise that few could match.”
And he bemoaned the pay of £67,000 a year for a backbench MP before rounding off with a dig at Parliament, concluding: “Being an MP also comes at a great cost, including being away from home four nights a week, working very long hours, often for lower pay than before, and with constant, unwanted and unwarranted media intrusion into every aspect of ours and our families’ lives.
“It is a price that was once worth paying, but for me that time has now passed and I look forward to new challenges, greater freedoms and a life outside this mad House.”
Burley’s time with in Parliament has been controversial. He won the Staffordshire constituency of Cannock Chase with a massive 14 percent swing from Labour in 2010, but came under fire from his own party just a year later after it emerged that he had helped to organise a Nazi themed stag party in the French Alps, at which guests chanted “Hitler, Hitler, Hitler”, and raised a toast to the Third Reich.
The groom, Mark Fournier, was fined €1000 plus costs by a French court for wearing the uniform and insignia of an SS officer, supplied by Burley. An internal party inquiry last year ruled that he had been “stupid and offensive” for his part in the event.