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London 2012: Boris Johnson dismisses 'leftie' complaint

Category: England

Published: 28th Jul 2012 15:10:19

London Mayor Boris Johnson has dismissed suggestions the opening ceremony of the Olympic Games was left-wing as "nonsense".

He described the event, which included a tribute to the NHS, as a triumph for the country.

It comes after Tory MP Aidan Burley said a tweet in which he referred to "leftie multi-cultural" rubbish in the ceremony was "misunderstood".

He said he was talking about the way it was handled in the show.

The Games opening ceremony included sequences about the National Health Service, with one showing menacing figures from children's literature looming over children in hospital beds.

Its artistic director, Danny Boyle, said the theme was "this is for everyone".

Speaking at the Olympic Park, Mr Johnson said: "It wasn't global 'Brito-pap'. It wasn't just Big Ben and Beefeaters and red buses and stuff. It was actually the truth about this country in the last two or three hundred years told in a big, dynamic way.

"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. I was blubbing like Andy Murray.

"I thought it was stupefying, one of the most amazing events I have ever seen.

"The big anxiety we had was, could we do something that would rival Beijing. I think we knocked the spots off it."

In his initial tweet the MP for Cannock Chase wrote: "The most leftie opening ceremony I have ever seen - more than Beijing, the capital of a communist state! Welfare tribute next?"

He followed it with a tweet welcoming the fact the athletes have arrived, adding it would mean moving on from the "leftie multi-cultural" rubbish. "Bring back red arrows, Shakespeare and the Stones!" he concluded.

Speaking later to the BBC, Mr Burley insisted he had not been criticising multiculturalism.

"I agree it should be celebrated," he said. "I wasn't having a go at multiculturalism itself, I was having a go at the rather trite way, frankly, it was represented in the opening ceremony."

A Downing Street source said: "We do not agree with him."

A fellow Conservative, Croydon MP Gavin Barwell, was among his critics. "With respect, us Londoners are rather proud of the diversity of our city #nothingleftwingaboutit," he tweeted in reply.

However, in his Daily Telegraph column, Andrew Gilligan said the ceremony was great in parts but added that the section on the NHS was too parochial.

News Corp chief executive Rupert Murdoch tweeted that the ceremony was "surprisingly great even if a little too politically correct".

David Cameron last year sacked Mr Burley as parliamentary private secretary to Transport Secretary Justine Greening for "offensive and foolish" behaviour during a Nazi-themed stag party.

He apologised for the "inappropriate behaviour" of fellow guests at the party.

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