Tory MP regrets attending Nazi stag party

UK conservative MP Aidan Burley has apologised for any offense given by his attendance at a stag party in France where some attendees dressed up like members of the SS, chanted "Himmler Himmler Himmler" and "Eichmann Eichmann Eichmann," taunted French waiters by asking (in thick German accents) where in the Third Reich they hailed from, and toasted "the ideology and thought process of the Third Reich."


  1. Why even bother apologizing for this? It’s not like it could have been an accident, “Whoops! There was a party in the hotel and I wandered in; just happened to be dressed in brown.” And it’s not like he could have thought what he was doing wasn’t deeply wrong, and is just now understanding how other people might have perceived it. 

    No, he’s saying, “I’m sorry you found out about this.” 

    1. Dressed in brown? He was wearing jeans and a pale blue shirt under a navy v-neck sweater.

      This business of understanding how other people might perceive things is very tricky indeed.

      1. I know, and you also never know who has a sense of history, and who, through innocent ignorance accompanied by a giant whooshing noise, might come off as an obtuse apologist for the Third Reich.

        But, I do suppose you’d be in royal company, were that the case. 

  2. I really wish one of these guys would just say “So what?”

    ‘It’s now very common to hear people say, “I’m rather offended by that”, as if that gives them certain rights. It’s no more than a whine. It has no meaning, it has no purpose, it has no reason to be respected as a phrase. “I’m offended by that.” Well, so fucking what?’
    Stephen Fry

      1. Well, the odd thing that leads me to not think it is “glorying in genocide & oppression” is that the Nazis firebombed London and many other UK cities.  I doubt these guys thought that was totally rad.  I’m inclined to think it’s some guys dicking around at a party, and it crossed over into a bit of douchiness.  To read any kind of endorsement of Nazi ideology into it seems to be taking party dumbness too seriously.

        1. Nah, see– this is I think a major victory that racists have managed to slide under the radar. The idea that “racism” only counts when you “mean it,” & that it only counts if you just plain hate people of a certain background. Nope! That sort of KKK & Nazi Party racism is pretty rare these days– unless, you know, we’re talking about Mexicans or Muslims– but the real issue is the pervasive institutional normalization of prejudice. You know, from the way prison & justice systems disproportionately lock up people of colour to the way that terms like “gay” are all purpose slurs. So yeah, I take stuff like wearing blackface or dressing like a Nazi seriously. I don’t think we need to tar & feather the guy, but I think expecting political officials to not hang out at “Nazi parties” is hardly asking too much. I mean, he’s not some sixteen year old white frat kid making mistakes & blinded by his privilege. We don’t need to cut him some slack– maybe he didn’t think the Nazis were totally rad, but he did think they were totally hilarious, & that isn’t okay. Holding him to a standard that says hanging out with people in Nazi costumes isn’t okay isn’t a big onus, I don’t think.

          1. Expecting _anyone_ to not hang out at Nazi parties, is hardly asking too much. Much less asking a representative of a government to do such a thing. Why would anyone think it’s appropriate to make toasts to Hitler, Himmler, and Eichmann, and then walk into Parliament the next day.

          2. Hey, I 80% agree.  I do think that the state of the prison system (in the US at least) is at least in part indicative of continuing  prejudice and racism both subtle and overt.  I agree that “gay” as an all purpose slur contributes to the continued negative view of homosexuality and it does that whether a person means it that way or not.  I agree that “Holding him to a standard that says hanging out with people in Nazi costumes isn’t okay isn’t a big onus.”

            My only difference was on the “Are these guys really down with glorifying Nazism, or were they only being transgressive at a party.” thing.  Where I must admit ignorance is on the state of UK politics.  Some people here seem to be saying that maybe there are really currently elected UK politicians who don’t mind that the Nazis bombed the hell out of the UK and killed their countrymen, because they actually are sympathetic to some of the Nazi ideals.  I don’t know enough to deny that, and if it is true then… wow.  That is pretty insanely awful.  It would be like having “Ted Kaczynski / Osama Bin Laden was right” people in your government, which is pretty scary.

          3. i’m going to maintain that there is a difference between racism and bigotry, but thanks for the oversimplification of a timeless and complex question!

          4. Oh cool, we’re doing that thing where we disrespect people who disagree with us through the use of condescending sarcasm? That should certainly help deepen the discussion. The internet’s anonymity doesn’t mean you can abandon common courtesy, you know.

            But that aside, yeah. No, you are right, I am willing to simplify it; you can call it a timeless & complex question, but I’ll call it splitting hairs in order to allow intolerance in the privileged class. I’ll call a spade a spade. You– a proverbial “you,” not YOU you– can’t go to the KKK BBQ & then say you are only there for the hot dogs. Doesn’t work that way.

        2. “I doubt these guys thought that was totally rad. ”

          Uh, you seem to make a lot of excuses for white supremacists. Every country has neo nazi-supporters and sympathizers.

          1. “You seem to make a lot of excuses for white supremacists”  Wow… dude. Are you trying to call me a white supremacist?  Classy, but I guess that’s internet dialog for you.  Ratchet up everything to maximum outrage level.   Do neo-nazi supporters and sympathizers exist?  Sure.  What I meant by my statement is that… over 40,000 civilians died in during the London Blitz.  When I hear that members of the UK government were at a stag party where some of them dressed up as Nazis and I try to think about the motivations behind that I go: Hmm, are these just dudes acting like dummies at a stag party by being transgressive and douchy, or are they probably a white supremacists sect within the government that would have preferred the UK surrender during WW2, possibly becoming members of the Axis, fighting against France, the US, etc.  

            Now for me, Occam’s razor cuts to the “dumb party” side.  For you, the fact that I might see it that way is enough to imply that I’m quite possibly a white supremacist myself.  Try some charitable reading next time, and I’ll continue to not imply you were down with Stalin’s purges or whatever.

          2. Now for me, Occam’s razor cuts to the “dumb party” side.

            Occam’s Razor might not cut that way if Occam were aware that the fascist BNP is growing and has members in the European Parliament.

        3. “Let’s raise a toast to Tom for organising the stag do, and if we’re perfectly honest, to the ideology and thought process of the Third Reich.”…Asked why he was dressed as he was, Mark Fournier said: ‘We wanted to see how a Nazi outfit in the middle of France would go down. The answer is not that well at all.’…Another said: ‘We are trying to intimidate as many people as possible. A lot have been quite offended, especially one guy who was both Jewish and gay.’

          So, yeah, totally innocent and benevolent.  And I’m sure that David Cameron is thrilled that one of his minions decided to do this on the day that he pissed off the entire EU.  Sadly, all that the PM can do is expel him from the party.  Maybe some WWII vets can show him some real Nazi-era hijinx.

          1. Hmm, you are replying to my post, but I don’t see the part where I claimed it was “innocent and benevolent”.    I’m just saying that being a Nazi, Nazi sympathizer, racist, etc. vs. ill advised jerky party behavior are 2 separate things.  To me the strongest evidence is that these guys were the latter.  I think it is a low-ish chance they are the former, but if they are, of course to hell with ’em.

        4. Some Brits, particularly  members of the upper and upper-middle class, were sympathetic to Hitler’s policies and his goal of re-creating a powerful German state purged entirely of Jewish citizens. Oswald Mosley and his British Union of Fascists enjoyed support among many people outside of the 50,000 members of his party.

          The British, for obvious reasons, have a thorough grasp of the political history of Western Nations in the 20s and 30s. Devastated and left adrift as a result of the Great Depression and the death of autarchy, Britain and Europe were left rudderless in the years following the Great War. Many, including intellectuals and industrialists (Henry Ford, anyone?), shared a desperate desire to establish new types of government that would guarantee social stability and prevent the outbreak of yet another World War.

          Aidan Burley’s brother, John Fournier, said this of his brother: “This man is a Tory MP. He went to Oxford as well. A Tory boy.” 

          His statement suggests that aside from enjoying an excellent education that would have provided Burley a thorough understanding of Fascism in Britain, his family and his class would have had first hand experience with Oswald Mosley’s efforts, even if they themselves loathed Fascism.

          I cannot conceive of a credible excuse that would render acceptable chanting the name of one of the most despicable, craven, cowardly war criminals of all time, Heinrich Himmler.

          If you lack a detailed knowledge of Himmler, I would recommend a brief study of his loathsome, base, opportunistic, sociopathic character and the murderous deeds he organized and ordered that resulted in the deaths of over 6 million people. 

          Himmler was a detestable weeping fistula of a “man” whose name suggests only infamy, institutionalized sadism and murderous depravity. 

        5. I doubt these guys thought that was totally rad.

          well, since their point was to be as repellant as possible, I can see your affinity for their thinking.

          1. Why would you think I have affinity for their thinking?  That doesn’t seem like a nice thing to imply, especially without evidence.

          2. This is in reply to Antinous.  When I look at a situation and judge someone to be acting like a jerk rather than deciding they are a Nazi, that is not defending them.  I don’t know, maybe they are completely 100% Nazis.  I fail to see how my doubt of that constitutes a defense of their actions.  It seems like in online discourse we have to choose some side and stick with it, no nuance allowed.  If someone could explain how me doubting they are Nazis means I support Nazis… am a closet white supremacists, or whatever else, that would be helpful.  It would be like some kids burning a pentagram on a church lawn, and people called these kids out as Satanists, then I posit that they are dumb kids doing shocking things, probably not Satanists.  Would the natural reaction be to suspect that I too was a Satanist, or at least have an anti-Christian agenda?  Can you see my point of view here?

          3. Can you see my point of view here?

            No. For starters, you’re comparing a Member of Parliament to ‘kids’. Nobody’s suggesting that they’re members of the Nazi Party, just that they’re vile assholes who deserve all the scorn that society can heap on them.

          4. Well, Antinous, OK.  It’s a bummer you can’t see where I’m coming from.  I do agree with you in so much as I agree they engaged in some stupid, asshole-ish behavior.  If I was from the UK, they wouldn’t be my politicians.  I’m not a “heap scorn” sort of person (well, I try anyway), but maybe I shouldn’t toss my modulating comments into stories like these that are meant for people to share in their outrage.

    1. What, ’cause Stephen Fry said it, it must be true? Exercise some of your own thoughts would you. 
      In a limited set of circumstances Stephen Frys argument holds water. You seem to think that it’s a defence for any sort of behaviour. It’s not. This isn’t acceptable behaviour, at all. Just like getting on the restaurant table and curling out a giant turd whilst shouting “I shit on your French food” isn’t acceptable. No one, except socio-paths and neo-nazis perhaps, would think so. That an MP feels that it is alright to associate with such socio-paths is not acceptable, and shows his complete lack of foresight and  thorough un-suitability for his job. That said he is a Tory so it’s unsurprising, in fact it’s probably expected behaviour in Conservative circles – “damn those bloody shifty Europeans, we should give them a bloody good hiding” So carry on carrying on.

    2. I think the point you’re trying to make is that “nobody has a fundamental right to not be offended.” I actually  agree with that sentiment.

      Of course, no one has a fundamental right to be a government official either. If you want the privilege of representing the interests of the people then maybe, just maybe, you shouldn’t participate in events as insensitive and disgusting as a Nazi stag party. If “Nazis are funny” is free speech then so is saying “I don’t want someone who thinks Nazis are funny representing my interests.”

      1. If “Nazis are funny” is free speech then so is saying “Hey, let’s flay all the neo-nazis alive!” Hilariousness!

        Actually, let’s.

      2. Really? I thought Mel Brooks established pretty well that Nazis can be funny. Personally, I don’t have a problem with making jokes about Nazis, as such.

        But you are right in one regard: for an elected official to make Nazi jokes shows very poor judgment, since a lot of people, rationally or no, WILL be offended.

        1. I think you are misconstruing Brainspore’s point. I don’t think it would be too presumptuous to say you could rephrase the last sentence for added clarity:
          “I don’t want someone who thinks Nazis are funny and kind of right representing my interests.”

          1. I guess I just find it hard to believe that’s what was going on. Obviously I don’t know these people, and I’m not trying to defend either the taste or the quality of their humor. But I don’t think actual Nazis would end up showing themselves by dressing up in costumes at a stag party. It seems much more likely that the humor is the transgressiveness itself, like telling a dead baby joke.

          2. It seems much more likely that the humor is the transgressiveness itself, like telling a dead baby joke.

            In a maternity ward.

          3. Ok. Again, I didn’t say it wasn’t in bad taste, just that “they clearly support Nazism” is a pretty silly conclusion.

          4. OK, this is a reply to Moriarty, and I actually ‘liked’ your comment instead of replying to it, which I didn’t mean to do. I don’t hate your comment, but I probably wouldn’t have liked it if it weren’t for the weird nesting level controlled reply limitations.
            If Mel Brooks is dessing as Hitler, you know where he’s coming from.
            In this case, it’s a little harder to get exactly what the joke is. Maybe its just really poor taste humour with a pathological lack of empathy, or maybe those Nazi’s had a few good points to make. It’s blurry. And it’s not an issue most of us would be comfortable being ambiguous about.

        2. I thought Mel Brooks established pretty well that Nazis can be funny.

          Mel Brooks was mocking the Nazis; these people are mocking their victims.

          Speaking of which, has Hitler found out about this yet?

          1. Mel Brooks was mocking the Nazis; these people are mocking their victims.

            Yes, this. Also the context is a little different when the joke is coming from a Jew. Using the Mel Brooks Defense to excuse tasteless Nazi jokes is like a white guy using the Dr. Dre Defense after calling a black guy the N-word.

  3. I can’t see this action as anything other than voicing support for the Nazi Party.  Just as I can’t see dressing up like a devil or a witch for Hallowe’en as anything other than voicing support for Satanism and witchcraft. 

    1. How many politicians do you think dress up like a devil for Halloween?  Or went to a party where the theme was dressing as devils?  I don’t think anyone thinks he’s actually a neo-nazi, but I wouldn’t want a politician representing me who thought it was funny to go to a party where there was a theme of dressing as the SS.  Partly it’s the offense, but partly it’s the stupidity of “Why risk offending anyone who was a victim of the Nazis, why risk offending anyone German who feels guilty for it, and why are you showing yourself publicly to be an ass among assholes”?    Is this the guy you want representing your area on a trade mission to Germany?  Or really to anywhere in the world?

    2. Well, Sane, let me explain it to you. You see, devils and witches aren’t real. Nazis were, and are, real. They still dress up and hold rallies in earnest. Some of their victims and their victims’ families are still alive.

      Oh, and mocking wait staff who can’t defend themselves without losing their jobs is just dickish. (And pretty stupid if you do it before being served.)

      1. So if your costume was something that was real, that counts as an endorsement? Really puts all those Nixon masks in a new light, I guess.

        1. Serious Nixon supporters tended not to put on Nixon masks and make Nixon impersonations.  Serious Neo-nazis put on Nazi regalia and act like Nazis.

      1. More “when stupid people voice support for the Nazi Party, is it really all that authentic?”

        Yes, why wouldn’t it be? Obviously stupid people are drawn to the white supremacy movement.

        1. I would like to add that these “stupid people” are products of Oxford and Cambridge. Further, they hold positions of great power in the government of a powerful nation. Members of their class formed the most powerful bloc that supported of Oswald Mosley’s British Union of Fascists in the 1930s.

          They’re not stupid. They’re entitled, powerful and believe themselves beyond the reach of law and the need to adhere to the laws and mores of a civil society which they believe they lead and control.

          1. Agreed, but the defense that stupid people are less “authentic” defenders of the tenets of Nazism seemed a bit off.

    3. No, it’s more like dressing up as a devil and wandering in to a church inquiring if there are any nuns you can sodomize.

      Now, if you don’t see a serious problem with that, there’s something wrong with you.

      1. Not a church.  A closer analogy would be wearing a Devil costume at a restaurant in a heavily Christian country, and making damnation-themed jokes at the waitstaff’s expense.  Since the Devil is the most evil being who has ever existed in Christian mythology, this is bound to cause offense. 

        Dickish?  Of course it is!  I never said it wasn’t.  The only point I made was that you cannot infer support for the Nazi Party from some jerks on a stag do dressing as Nazis, just as you cannot infer support for Satanism from someone dressing as Satan in a similar situation. 

        If this were a story about a Tory MP being a dick at a restaurant, then I doubt that this would even have made the papers.  So the idea that Tory = Dick is not what this is about.  This is about the idea that Tory = Nazi.  And I don’t think that you can infer that from the events as described.  

        If, in standing up against bad inferences, I have to defend people as loathsome as scumbags who dress as Nazis for a giggle, then so be it.  Why, even if I have to defend someone as loathsome as a Tory MP, then I will even go so far as to do that as well.  (Rimshot.)

  4. Is it wrong that i’m just not surprised by this?

    Sounds about par for the course from our sociopathic politicians…

  5. The article touches on it but it’s worth noting that, douchebaggery aside, that’s very much illegal in France – and there are a few very vigilant and noisy associations that are fairly likely to jump on those jokers.
    Yet, I haven’t heard anything  about it so far.

    Wonder where this will go from here, I do.

    1. I have been considering that as well. The French, having suffered from unprovoked wars that decimated generations and culminated in a brutal 5 year occupation, do not take lightly jokes about Nazis and German militarism. With good reason.

  6. I’m not terribly surprised that a Tory MP thought it would be a good laugh to go to a Nazi-themed stag party, and is now rather baffled as to why people are so upset even after his handlers briefed him several times.  Granted I’d expect that to come from the house of Lords more than from Commons, but whatever.

    What surprises me is that they were allowed into a restaurant in France dressed like that.

  7. I wonder how this chap’s grandfather would feel about him having out with people who go to a stag party dressed as SS Nazi Officers. 

    Some of the attendees did dress as such.  Not all of them, some of them – how many?  His gaffe was that once he saw these guest, he didn’t leave his friend’s bachelor party immediately.  Maybe this was one of those parties where people get really smashed and make complete and total asses of themselves in public.

    I think the big shock is that they did this in France and the French did not physically assault them.

    1. “I think the big shock is that they did this in France and the French did not physically assault them.”

      These are the French that we’re talking about here.  I assume that they decided to join in on the fun/joke and most of the staff capitulated.

      1. How quickly we forget that time when it was the French who conquered half of Europe. It wasn’t *that* long before the time the Germans did it, in the scheme of such things.

      2. It’s funny, they don’t teach this in schools in the US but the Germans invaded France with America’s help.  It wasn’t until much later that the US decided they were on the wrong side.

        Once the Americans flip-flopped and stopped helping the wrong guys, the British and the French Resistance quite decisively beat the Germans.

  8. His apology was on Twitter: “The apology, posted at 12.30pm on Sunday, was sent to the MP’s 385 followers….”

    Even for a politician, that takes the concept of a non-apology almost as far as it can go.

    1. I think it is what in my parts they call a “bachelor party”, a party for a guy usually with all of his guy friends as a “last crazy night” before he gets married. In the movie cliches and a good chunk of reality it might involve strippers, general dumb “party craziness” and so on.  In this case it sounds like they decided to swap that part out for Nazis instead.

      1. I found it much better to just ask natural speakers about slang words.

        Especially when a Google search of the word in question would probably have turned up a massive amount of (gay) pr0n sites.

          1. Google is available to all of us, but most of us are not polyglots.  Give HahTse some props for learning a new language.

    1. There’s also Springtime for Hitler, Chaplin, Mel Brooks and Donald Duck mocked Hitler, and John Cleese did Hitler on Monty Python and Fawlty Towers.  See also “To  Be or Not to Be”.  But everyone watching those knew it was a comedy  and was supposed to be outrageous.   It’s differnet acting that way in real life.  The actors didn’t go to a foreign country that suffered under Nazism and harass waitstaff.  Cleese, Chaplin and Hill would be unlikely to be elected to government office, especially if they acted like clowns while in office.  

    2. “Might be something gloriously British about all this that we cannot fathom.”

      Man, there is NOTHING that people on the internet won’t defend with their undying stupidity.

    3. I can fathom it, and I’m American – Hill and the others were doing this thing called “mocking” the Nazis, which means they were making fun OF Nazis.  The Tory douchebag in question was USING Nazi imagery to “mock” the French, not to “mock” the Nazis.

      This shouldn’t be hard to get.

      1. Right, it’s like saying that blackface frat parties that occur in the US are “mocking racism”.

        No, they’re mocking black people.

  9. It must be noted that the picture in the Guardian article Cory linked to is just plain weird. Is he a small politician, or is he a long way away. Hang on, he’s sat at the same table as Cameron.

    I wonder in fact if he’s one of Hitler’s Sex Dwarves.

    (Presume that in this thread Goodwin does not apply?)

  10. One of two* possibilities could account for this, IME:

    1) They’re outright mocking those who’ve likened their politics with fascism.

    2) They were intentionally overzealous in blowing their dog whistle, knowing that it would be audible to everyone, and that excuses and faux apologies (as well as others serving as apologists for them) would suffice–affording them the opportunity to “shout” across the bow.

    * Not mutually exclusive.

    There are very few genuine “mistakes” where calculating politicians are involved.

    1. When you have a choice of brilliant overarcing conspiracy or blithering stupidity and incompetence, smart money is on the blithering side.  They were likely a collection of morons who wanted to shock others for their own amusement, same way a young child does when first learning obscenities.  Of course the obscenity of “ha, ha, we’re pretending to be the people who killed your great uncle/aunt or grandfather” is a little more unforgivable than a rude word.

      1. Assuming some accuracy in the report:

        “Let’s raise a toast to Tom for organising the stag do, and if we’re perfectly honest, to the ideology and thought process of the Third Reich.”

        Thanks for the flames folks, but so far I’ve not seen any compelling explanation for the actions of these blokes, including Mr. Burley.

        Stupidity? Incompetence?? That’s the best defense being offered here?

        Are you suggesting this was nothing more than a “Whoops, I just raised my glass in a toast to the Third Reich with some friends who were chanting ‘Himmler’.”

        Stupid? On its surface: absolutely. Incompetent? Depends on what their goals are.

        And the comparison to a child first learning obscenities? Seriously?

    2. “1) They’re outright mocking those who’ve likened their politics with fascism.”

      The mind boggles why anyone would thrash and convulse and contort to these excruciatingly stupid ends.

  11. A Tory apologising for finding the Third Reich funny? This is progress people! 

    David Cameron’s caring, sharing Conservative Party is becoming a reality – very, very, VERY slowly. Give them a decade or two and they’ll even start saying minstrel shows might be a little insensitive.

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