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GB mortified at bigot comment. Visit was human not political

Posted on 28 April 2010 | 4:04pm

I was saying last night that we had yet to have our ‘Joe the plumber’ moment in the campaign. We had not even had the Sharon Storer moment, though David Cameron’s encounter with the father of a disabled child had its moments.

Now enter the campaign Gillian Duffy.

It is of course manna from heaven for the media. A new character. An encounter that will be played again and again on TV, not just in Britain but around the world. And something which absorbs all the space in the debate that Labour had been hoping might move to policy, and moves the focus to questions of character.

Question marks about the ethics of Sky notwithstnding (in my day there was an agreement that the mikes were only live when cameras were running) I am not blaming the media for this. And nor is Gordon.

I saw him at his Manchester hotel, where we are preparing for tomorrow’s debate, when he returned from Rochdale. To say he was mortified is an understatement. I don’t think I have ever seen him so angry with himself. And he was angry less about the obvious frenzy he had unleashed than the fact that he said what he did. She was so clearly not a bigot, and he knew that.

There were some members of his team worried about him going to see Mrs Duffy face to face – he had already apologised on the telephone – because of how the media might interpret it and what she might say afterwards.

But he was determined to see her, because he knew he had hurt her, and wanted to attone for that, however humiliated others would say it made him.

I just heard a PR adviser, Phil Hall, saying he felt it was a bad thing for him to go to see her, that he had apologised and he should have moved on. He then gave all the pros and cons. But it overlooks the fact that in the end GB was reacting less as a calculating politician than a human being who knew he had done something wrong. GB felt a very human need, for himself and for Mrs Duffy, to go to see her. It really was as simple as that.

He knows millions of words will be devoted to this – they already have been. He also knew that until he went to see her, he would have nothing else on his mind at a time when the central choice in this campaign – the economy – is about to move centre stage.

It was a mistake. He knows that. But he also knows there is an election to fight, and hopefully he will be back in the hotel soon ready to resume that fight against a Tory Party that would damage the lives of people who live in places like Rochdale.

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  • mattydug

    the awfulness of this episode is that it reflects badly on gb in virtually everyway.
    is this man primeministerial?
    he is not the type of man i want.
    with the trailed peb tonight the labour party has turned itself into the truly nasty party.
    sad really.

  • Jamie Edwards

    The only reason why it was a ‘mistake’ and why it was regrettable is because it will lose votes.

    A mistake is dropping a mug on the floor.

    It is no surprise that Brown privately holds voters in contempt – every single biography has been saying this of him for more than a decade.

  • VS

    Do stop trying to spin this as well 🙁
    He was reacting exactly as he thinks – that we are all racists and bigots to even raise immigration as an issue. For the record – I am of Indian origin and a first generation immigrant. And I think Labour has mislead the public and let things get out of control.

  • Denzil Meyrick

    Much, of course, will be made of this incident; it is a delight for the media, and reminds me a bit of Susan Boyle’s rise to fame. The real truth behind this sensationalism is the fact tha the Tories will use it to further hide what their intentions are- our message to the electorate should be to try to look more deeply into what is being fed to you by the media. It DOES matter.

  • Jake Regan

    Why are there question marks about Sky’s ethics if you’re not blaming the media?
    How can a man like you even mention the word ethics after all the lies that you constantly fed the media yourself?
    The reason that he is mortified is because he got caught NOT because he didn’t mean it.

  • Don

    Let’s face Gordon Brown is just an utter bell-end.

  • Spin City

    Nice try…

  • Gavin Watson

    I think that the frustrating thing for me, about Gordon Brown, is that he is someone who has found it incredibly difficult to capitilise on the fact that he is a good leader…

    No leader has done more for world poverty, no leader has sought to directly engage people and their concerns, through private calls, visits and personally written letters, for God sake he did not cause world crash (i.e. soft touch regulation would have been put in place by any govt. imagine if Gordon had preached austerity in a time of plenty? He would have been deeply unpopular) and yet at one point he was heralded by the entire leadership of the world (bar Germany). He has overseen the most prolific investment in public services (both as chancellor and PM) bringing them back to life from the dead state that the Tories left them in… these listed are just the obvious ones, this is after all a comment, not a book.

    And yet his enemies have done so well as painting him as combatitive and ineffective and he & his team have done so badly at pointing out what he has achieved (in no part helped by stupid things like the ‘dour to instant maniacal smiling’ at media events and Artic Monkeys on the Ipod, etc). On top of that his time has been marred by other events (expenses, discent in the ranks, questions of bullying, old guard looking to cash in on lobbying & old govt. spin that is easily seen through nowadays and makes Gordon look bad).

    And now this… she probably was a bigot. I would probably of said the same, justifiably, but I am not important and do not have a microphone on. When I heard about it I just groaned inwardly. This could be it, this is hard to come back from if you are worried about immigration (my only worry is that they will stop coming here, or be stopped) or are a floating voter.

    If Cameron wins I will be gutted. Gordon is the better leader, Gordon has experience and Gordon will do a better job of protecting public services and the less well off – my life will get worse under a tory govt. (I am on of the less well off)… and yet one cannot help but see the prospect getting closer and closer. It is a shame, it is unjust and, given the obvious talents that have not been capitilised on, it is inexplicable and inexcusible.

  • Matt

    Yes, this all makes sense, tho the spectacle of the Prime Minister of Great Britain rolling up in a fleet of limos to spend 45 minutes inside a Rochdale council house while the worlds media crane their necks outside, was vastly entertaining. And a huge diversion. Like a Carry on film – a bit like the campaign.
    But if you are right, and Gordon was expressing human remorse, he was not able to put that across when he finally emerged through the white front door. It was a decent apology. But that’s all. It wasnt a ‘she was the people’s princess’ moment, was it? So even when he acts with some authenticity, it comes across as political calculation. And that is the problem. With Gordon.

  • Richard

    No one who heard the comments in the back of the Jag, or his initial response on the Jeremy Vine show will be under any illusion about what Gordon’s true response to this was.

    He was not reacting to her as a human being. He smiled to her face and hated every second of his conversation with her.

    When confronted with his own words his initial response was to dissemble and subsequently when played the tape to blame the media.

    We can see his face and hear his tone of voice. You and Peter M can try to spin this all you like but we all had our “human” response to this, we know what we saw and what it said to us about Gordon Brown and his character.

    It was unambiguous.

  • Mark Wright

    The irony is that his encounter with Mrs Duffy was very fruitful and he really won her over. The fact that he thought it was a ‘disaster’ says more about how GB punishes himself than anybody else. He doesn’t credit himself even when he does a good job.

    Of course Mrs Duffy was crestfallen when Sky played her the footage back. GB should have been more on the ball and he was wrong to say what he did. She certainly didn’t say anything that resembled a ‘bigot’ and I dare say that if GB had played back the footage he would have regretted his comments in the car regardless of whether she knew what he’d said about her or not.

    When even private conversations said in the heat of the moment and possibly ill informed, or just plain wrong, fail to remain so is it any wonder politicians retreat to stage managed events?

    And just to think she only went out for a loaf of bread.

  • db

    the tory backing murdoch media machine has pulled off the big one they’ve been looking for. mic ‘accidentally’ left on GB. now watch sky news go for the jugular. AC should take Kate Burley up on her offer just now to call in (hence i found this site) to go on the counter and remind everybody of the Murdoch political agenda

  • Jez Kay

    The trouble with this PR gaffe is that it’s clear that GB was behaving arrogantly, not to mention unprofessionally. And that you can’t convincingly retract a statement that was made so indefatigably. Mrs. Duffy patently got his wind up. And he made an “off-camera” reactive comment to her while she was still, er, within spitting distance. Don’t you know lapels and ties (are likely to) have ears, GB? Particularly with a week to go to the election.

    It’ll probably make little difference to the outcome of the campaign. But it won’t help. And making a meal of it by going to see her won’t either.

    Count to ten, Gordon. That’s what they [or maybe you, AC] should have told you.

  • Mark Occomore


    Yes this was a mistake and people are only human. I think the mic should be switched off once he enters the car. WHY wasn’t this done? Would Sky news left the mic on in his hotel room? NO!! At the end of the day he’s apologised to Ms Duffy.. She has accepted this. It’s all about the policies people are voting on I thought, not what they say?

  • db

    wonder how many times Sky can fit the word ‘bigot’ in in every 10 minute period ?

  • miri

    But Alastair, darling, this is the same Gordon Brown who expressed support for you and Tony and plotted behind your back to get rid of you;
    This is the same Gordon who expressed support for his chancellor and then briefed against Alastair Darling;
    This is the same Gordon Brown who, we all now know, says one thing to your face and another thing to his inner circle.
    And what do we discover, a disloyal, multi-faced dissembler. He didn’t misunderstand this poor lady who expressed fairly and clearly the worries of so many people, he just couldn’t and can’t countenance anyone who calls it how it is. She was off-message and so he lashed out at her, and at his assistant Sue.
    The clearest picture from this will not be the “millions of media words” which will result, but rather the discovery that Gordon is exactly what his critics have called him. And we have discovered all this from his own mouth.
    This was a very good day for democracy.

  • db

    Kay Burley is awful………. shameless and crude pumper of the boss’ line

  • James

    I’m not entirely sure about this one – if it had been say Nigel Blunkett or Alan Johnson, then I would be inclined to agree with you about the humanity shining through. They come across as in touch with people, with a heart. But we’ve all heard enough tittle-tattle about Gordon’s temper tantrums, flying Nokias etc to not want to give him the benefit of the doubt. I think he’s a control freak who lost his equilibrium when things didn’t go as he expected. And I don’t want that in my PM.

    The fact that his instinctive reaction was to call her a bigot when she so patently wasn’t overrides for me any “humanity” he may later have pretended.

  • Charlie Reynolds

    Gordon is only mortified that he was caught and that this has an impact on his future. The worrying thing is that he thought what came across as a fairly competent conversation (albeit with a lifelong Labour supporter) was a ‘disaster’. He thought she was a bigot because she mentioned her concerns about immigration (which he said on the debate was something he was listening to).

    The most telling comment was when she said that the debt was the main priority and that she knew it was going to mean ‘tax tax tax’ for the next generation. That is truly Gordon’s legacy. Public sector cuts and rising taxes for a generation. That’s what he should be worrying about. That is the real disaster.

  • F. Maynard

    “Labour had been hoping might move to policy, and moves the focus to questions of character”. This IS about character (or lack of it). The ‘apology’ was for ‘IF’ he caused offence…coward.
    Spin as much as you like – it reflects on all of you.

  • Rich

    Agree with comments you have made – we all say things about people coming out of a meeting, we would be mortified if the person overheard & believed that is what we ACTUALLY think about them (moreoften than not, we don’t – the situation just annoyed us at the time). People make our lives difficult & believe me I have said a lot worse! It takes a big man to take the time to apologise face to face – I dont believe for one moment that GB did this for the cameras. It takes an even bigger man to choose to take the time and trouble to apologise face to face, when clearly his time during an election campaign could be better spent.

    I certainly wouldnt trust sky news in the future – they may be rubbing hands in glee that they got a scoop today – which is where it ends – long term this could well damage the relationship & trust others have in them.

  • Alex Birkett

    Come on Alistair we heard Gordon’s ‘human’ side in the back of the car. He went back was because he lacks the ability to let go and you know it. I admire your tenacity, just think, you’ve only got to keep this up for one more week. 🙂

  • Dave Innes

    His comments and your response, just prove what a bunch of bent, spiv c***s you lot are.


  • Judith Haire

    Very well said. Whatever GB’s said or done he is not a bad bloke and whatever a PR person says, GB had to do what felt right for him; he did the right thing and apologised. End of story, please

  • Tricky Dickie

    Gordon is human and a decent one at that for all his faults. My fear is for the Mrs Duffy and the harrassment she will now get from the media.
    This will be a difficult 24hrs but to be honest he has not killed anyone and the media are being way OTT.
    Cameron and Osborne have said worse things in private about voters, a case of “for the grace of God go I”.
    I wonder if Kay Burley or Adam Boulton can hand on heart say they have never been caught out on mic. It is a low form of journalism a kin to spying under the marital bed.
    Trust in politics is at its lowest but the trust in the media is now in minus figures.
    People will do well to reflect on just what the real questions they face, in 8 days time, are.

  • john,plymouth

    I admire your loyalty Alastair but this really is a ‘school boy error’, and the team around him must take a lot of respondsibility for this. I’m sure that Gordon Brown is an excellent politician, but surely you’d agree that he doesn’t inspire confidence. Probably a daft question, but what would be the chance of him becoming chancellor again(Shadow, I’m guessing), and could losing this election be a blessing in disguise for labour and give them a chance to reflect and overhall theirselves (Millibrand anyone !)

  • John Currie

    Dear Alastair
    how dare you say this was just ‘manna from heaven for the media’and refer to ethics with regards to ‘in my day’…Sky did not say those did not say those words..Gordon Brown said those words and like so many people in the media he is ONLY apologising because he has been caught out. I have no doubt that you would be making the most of this had it been David Cameron or Nick Clegg but you are now defending the indefensible. You say that GB was ‘reacting less as a calculating politicianthan a human being..’ What on earth does that mean? Does it mean he says one thing in public and other things behind closed doors? What does that mean for the evidence he gave to the Iraq inquiry. I am sorry Alastair, I am too intelligent to believe the spin you are playing on this. For once be honest and real with both yourself and the public and accept that GB made a big mistake and the views he expressed were his own personal views…I deserve better than this from someone in public office…I have served in education for 32 years in many different positions and have had to face similar 1-1 conversations..GB basically said one thing and meant another….and he was caught out…I have carried out research in this area…the public and the private face…put some honesty back into what you say and into British politics….I hold a catholic view of politics and I am able to see through the veneer of people inlcuding politicians and those who work on theor behalf….I deserve better than this….there is nothing like the truth to hurt or to heal….you are a bigger man than this and British politics deserves better that a PM who expressed such views…mind you I cannot suggest who would be a better PM as I have yet to see one including GB…perhaps you could put all of your talents behind what is best for GB (Great Britain) rather than play games for what is better for GB (Gordon Brown). The whole population needs leadership and truth and honesty and as yet I ahve heard very little any of those three things. Looking forward to hearing from you and I am always willing to serve GB (Great Britain) to create a fair and equal society bit not the one(s) put forward by any of the parties at present.

    John Currie

  • Martin

    Oh dear, oh dear, oh dear.

  • I_agree_with_Nick

    “ready to resume that fight against a Tory Party that would damage the lives of people who live in places like Rochdale.”

    What, ruin them more than a TRILLION pounds worth of debt? How, exactly, would that be possible?

  • louiseloo

    It is most unfortunate that the media will be quick to pounce on it. But if people had some sense they must realise it isn’t a popularity contest come May 6.

    I don’t think DC would have, in those circumstances, humbled himself the way GB did today.

  • Megan

    David Cameron’s encounter with the father of a disabled child was nowhere near a ‘Joe the plumber’ moment. It was a text book example of how our politicians should listen and converse with members of the public. Cameron took time to talk to the father, kneeling down so he was on the same level as the boy in the wheel chair. I don’t see how any politician could have dealt with a difficult situation any better.
    Gordon Brown, on the other hand, said one thing to Gillian Duffy’s face & then like a hypocrite, insulted her when he thought she was out of earshot. If he misunderstood her words on immigration, he should have had the moral courage to tackle her there and then about what she was saying. Instead, he scuttled back to his car and like a coward said what he dared not say to her face.
    As for his personal apology, you’ll have to spin a lot harder than that to convince me that it was human and not political.
    This whole episode has, I suspect, just confirmed to many people what they have long suspected about the character of Gordon Brown.

  • Alex

    ‘But it overlooks the fact that in the end GB was reacting less as a calculating politician than a human being who knew he had done something wrong. GB felt a very human need, for himself and for Mrs Duffy, to go to see her. It really was as simple as that.’

    lol – Pravda planet spin again AC? I am afraid it won’t wash.

    Lets look at the armed forces for a minute – are all those Generals, Brigadiers, Lieutenant Colonels and Majors (retired or those who resigned on principle) wrong when they question GB’s dubious explanations regarding defence spending in the period 2003 – 2006? Are they liars or is GB? Mmmm – these are men of principle whose actions speak louder than politicians – men who act because they truly have a moral compass. GB is not fit to polish their boots.

    re Duffy – GB only reacted the way he did because he knew he had been caught out; he is a fraudulent, deceitful, childish man who has done great damage to this country!

    You stick to your pravda style spin though; it only fuels Nulabs fall and the amusing thing is you aren’t intelligent enough to realise it.

    Alex (former labour voter, for my sins)a

  • Forlornehope

    It was a mistake because it shows what he really thinks of traditional Labour supporters. To say, as he is now, that he misunderstood just continues to demonstrate that he hasn’t got an honest bone in his body.

  • Forlornehope

    Yaah! didn’t think you’d have the guts to let that one through, ya wimp!

  • John Wilson

    This election is turning more and more into an X-factor contest. Gordon Brown is head and shoulders above the other two in everything that matters in a politician – intellect, integrity and courage. He has no need to apologise for a remark which he had every right to assume was made in a private environment and which, in any case, was correct. Mrs Duffy is, by her own admission, prejudiced against EU citizens from eastern Europe who exercise their right to come to the UK (just as about as many UK citizens move to other EU Member States). This is bigotry by any definition.

    Mrs Duffy is propagating the “lump of labour” fallacy, which is the basis for the rise in popularity of the BNP, UKIP and other right wing nutters, all of which get a cheer from the tabloid media.

    Instead of apologising, the Labour Party needs to go on the offensive and expose the shallow bigotry of the Tory press for what it is.

    John Wilson

  • Graham Jones

    It was a mistake GB made, but when confronted in the throng of the press, and you are trying to talk to people in the street, it’s understandable how you can get the wrong end of the stick. He clearly thought he was being pillared on immigration, which is cannon-fodder for the far right parties, so it could have looked like a stunt to him.
    Alas, it was not. Sky news were doing what bad doggies do – they were sitting waiting for a slip of the tongue, and they were willing to play dirty to get it. I don’t think there is any chance of Cameron’s mike being left on.
    But he showed he is a man, by going to see Mrs Duffy. If Cameron had any sense of humanity, he would have addressed the father yesterday in a proper manner, instead of treating him like a second-class citizen, who didn’t know better.
    Most people will see it was someone caught out by the buzz around a street confrontation, and then see him do the right thing. He’s not the type of person to treat people in an underhand fashion; he just wasn’t raised that way.
    The key to this story, is actually the lies that are being spread about immigration. It is clear that people aren’t being given the truth.
    We rely on immigration, just like almost every country in the world. It fulfills the demand left over from the home employment market, or where there is a skills shortage. There was an influx when the markets opened in Europe, and this was a two-way street. When the world economy was hit with a major downturn, this led to protectionist sentiments at home. There was a need to address the concerns of people. The government did this with a number of measures, without impinging on employees rights, nor hampering company growth.
    However, it is impossible for a government to put across this truth, when the majority of the press, especially the Murdoch mafia, are contradicting the facts at every turn.
    That is what drove this lady to a confrontation today. Had she been given the facts about immigration in the media, instead of the distorted neo-con propaganda churned out by small-minded idiots, I’m sure she would have had a different reflection.
    But GB apologised, and showed proper humility, when others would have hid behind the spin of their media mafia friends.
    I’m not condoning what happened, I’m simply saying,we should get these incidents into their proper context – but I’m not holding my breath.

  • Kathy

    What pathetic excuses Alistair. Gordon Brown has shown his true colours and the more he tries to apologise the more he makes people squirm. I did not think Labour had any chance of winning this time even though I have voted Labour in the past, but now they have no hope at all. No amount of yours and Mandelson’s spin will make this go away. I hope the poor lady sticks to her guns and doesn’t vote Labour in protest. .

  • Deborah Scott

    In response to the ‘manna from heaven’ fall out: An important point that doesn’t seem to have been raised is that when things seem so oddly illogical a logical explanation is usually simply being overlooked. The whole incident was undeniably illogical, nothing adds up:
    Gillian Duffy left the initial discussion reasonably satisfied and to the viewer the discussion seemed to be a naturally successful PR moment for Gordon Brown. In addition, anybody with half a brain (and Gordon Brown isn’t lacking in intellect) could not correctly accuse Mrs Duffy of being bigotted.

    The ONLY logical explanation for his subsequent brusque and frankly bizzare comments is that he either misunderstood some of her words or the gist of her main message.
    He clearly understood she felt disillusioned and was extremely frustrated by the fact that time and circumstances meant he felt he hadn’t been able to respond adequately to her concerns, (and yes, as it’s a campaign, that this would show him in a bad light and harm the cause). The fact that she seemed satisfied but he wasn’t, is a compliment to him as a genuinely concerned and extremely conscientious political leader.

  • Marcus Dillistone

    To be fair to GB, I’m not sure that when the encounter happened she was (as you suggest) “so clearly not a bigot”.

    However, as she was subsequently persuaded by GB’s argument and changed her opinion accordingly, she could – by definition – no longer be called a ‘bigot’, but ‘enlightened’.

  • xopek

    What medication is he on which makes him to look so happy after “apologizing” to her?
    And what are you drinking to write such a bullshit?

  • Finbar

    • The reason this incident will hurt Brown is twofold it shows his contempt for ordinary people and it shows his hypocrisy. Mrs Duffy was an ordinary voter, indeed a lifelong Labour voter,, with entirely reasonable concerns about, among other things pensions, public sector debt and immigration. Brown appeared to listen to her and patted her on the back as they parted. She was convinced, was going to continue voting Labour. Yet as soon as he was in private it was “Who let that awful woman near me?” and of course called her a bigot. She is not a bigot, not a deranged BNP supporter spouting bile, just an ordinary voter. Brown’s utter contempt for the ordinary punter has been well and truly exposed. Brown claims to be mortified but we all know he is only mortified at being caught out not because of what he did. And who would believe his apparently fulsome apology to Mrs Duffy, when we all know as soon as he is in private he will once more be expressing his utter contempt for Mrs Duffy? Apologies from the two faced are worth nothing.

  • Charlie

    AC. Words fail you.

  • Mr Ned

    You cannot be serious! Come on, for once be honest. IF these comments had not been broadcast to the nation, Brown would not have apologised. He is mortified at what he has done to his campaign, NOT at what he hand-on-heart felt on leaving that “disaster” encounter. When he thought nobody was listening, he was saying what he really thought.

    If you expect people to believe otherwise, you must think we are even more stupid than mud.

    Answer this, honestly, what would you be saying IF it had been Cameron or Clegg who this happened to? Hmmmmmmmmmm?

    You would be giving them a thorough kicking!

  • paul Charles


    but she is right,matey we have too many foreigners in the country,some parts of london is like Bagdad….

  • chris morrell

    I feel so sorry for Gordon..such a shame that he has had to backtrack and actually live this pantomime through..(Pure “Brasseye” meets Iannucci) He picked up on her “europeans what(sic) are all flocking over here” remark and,as i would,took THAT to be a bigoted remark..This stuck in his mind and he called it the way it sounded..Let Cameron and Clegg swear they’ve never made a derisory comment when they’ve had a bad “meet and greet” not realising they could be overheard…fuck em all!

  • jim brant

    The nearest thing to shooting yourself in the foot without actually using a gun. The excuses and explanations don’t cut any ice, or even the fact that what he said might well have been accurate; it is the fact that he was caught out saying one thing in public and something quite different in private – and whining about his own staff. The only small consolation is that the lost votes are unlikely to go to the Tories.

  • Steve

    He is an idiot and he has been caught.

  • fiona laird

    Feeling more and more passionate by the day about my support for the PM and the Labour party and feel desperately for the PM about this “bigot” stuff.
    Just a personal plea re tomorrow’s debate: when you’re briefing the PM please tell him (when DC tries to blame the Economic crisis on the government) to point out that exactly the same thing would have happened if the Tories had been in power. (Only worse because there would have been even less regulation.) From talking to people during this campaign I get the strong impression that many people dont realise this and believe DC when he blames this government.
    Also, am dying to hear the PM point out to DC that we are hardly “all in this together” as he keeps pronouncing, when he and George Osborne are multimillionaries from private and inherited wealth. I cannot stomach their hypocrisy.
    Just some thoghts….Keep up the good work.

  • Jacquie R

    Before Rochdale, I’d posted a comment on your website to say that I thought the polls might be wrong and that Labour may actually be more popular than they suggest.

    I know opinion polls are supposed to be more accurate these days, but that doesn’t hold if people aren’t telling the truth. Just as in the past Tory voters were hesitant to openly declare their preference, I think the same could be said today for many Labour voters.

    But now, with Gordon Brown doing a Gerald Ratner, it really looks to me as if it’s all over for Labour. The worst thing one can do is bite the hand that feeds. I’m sure he’s remorseful, but he’s also worn out. His reaction in the car sounded to me like that of someone exhausted.

    Is it heresy or unthinkable to suggest Gordon steps down now? Better that than five years of David Cameron.

  • Brian Tomkinson

    “She was so clearly not a bigot, and he knew that.” So why did be say she was? We heard what he really felt, not what he wanted us to hear. Good job there was no mobile phone handy in the car to throw through the windscreen.

  • susie brig

    What an uunfolding melodrama, as i take a day off work resting my eyes after a cataract operation by listening to radio five live about Brown Loaf-gate.

    I thought was a refreshing, great discussion they were having and so Gordon misread it badly.

    When Richard Bacon said Gordon was on his way back to Rochdale to visit Gillian Duffy, I imagined him stopping off to pick up a brown? white? loaf for Mrs Duffy and maybe a bunch of flowers. I thought he should personally invite her out for her favourite meal at her favourite place.

    They could talk about the price of a loaf and the national debt and agree to differ over immigration and end up life long friends.

    So I await Mrs Duffy’s response, as Gordon left to rehearse for his final TV performance. I am fascinated to see if she will refuse any media offers. I hope she does, because I liked her and the questions she asked. She was genuinely interested and knew her politics – and all she went out for was a loaf of bread.

  • Andy King

    I do not believe that he said this “bigotted Woman” without him believing that she was in HIS MIND

    Calling someone a bigot is not what a normal member of the public would say about somebody else either in public OR private so why did that phrase spring into his mind ?

    The problem as I see it is that this is proof that what Andrew Raundsley wrote about Bin his book is correct his basic pholosophy is to blame others for his mistakes and never apologise

    I am a labour voter but not this time sorry that was the last straw

  • Richard Deane

    Gordon Brown & Labour’s chances of winning The Election after “Bigotgate”………Toast !

  • John Currie

    What is the difference between being ‘human’ and being ‘political’? Look forward to you answer. Meanwhile how long does it take to pass throgh the various filters before being published on your blog?

    not being cynical merely asking a stright question.

  • Trevor Taylor

    Give it 48hrs.on top of which Friday’s TV debate will over shadow it.
    However on the broader point NLP have only themselves to blame as on most of the major issues, they have sold out on the principles on which the party was built. A good example is the subjects this particular person raised and many like her suffer directly from. They have not been addressed in their interest but only to appease the true bigots of race and class and leaving people like her frustrated and feeling helpless
    On another subject AC-why are we allowing the media and the opposition to portray the deficit as if it was out of control public spending when in fact is was the bailout of the financial sector which is the principal cause and was in everybodies interests to do something about. Come on get tough talk tough, stop apologising!

  • snotay

    For goodness sake! The man was in a private moment. The woman’s comments were bigoted. Which one of us will caste the first stone? Cameron? Clegg?

  • db

    Death kicks of the dying horse. It was defeatist for the Labour Party to go into this election with GB considering how universally he’s despised. From the cosy handover from TB without a mandate, and ducking the early opportunity, to the obvious dictatorial management style that belongs somewhere in 1970’s sweatshops, to ducking responsibility of the financial mess having refused to regulate the extremists of the financial sector, and finally to the debates where there could only be one nett loser and one big winner. It’s never easy (historically impossible) going for a 4th term even with a dynamic leader when the electorate have obviously grown bored. It’s a shame. I’m not Red but the new Labour govt of 1997 was probably the best ‘Tory’ govt we hadn’t had for along time. Then with Iraq and the ‘Bush poodle factor’ the wheels started to fall off. Labour have good people in Darling (seems honest and becoming more his own man), the Millibands (young and dynamic) and Balls…..who has shown some ba….. They have been on display which has vaguely kept them in the race. Luckily for them they have been up against a pretty shallow Conservative challenge. Cameron looks ok, but don’t understand what his policies are (big society ??), Osborne is hopeless and a liability, and i don’t think i remember the name (here in Kenya) of another Tory frontbencher ! why on earth did they stick with GB ? dumping him and there would have been the same ‘feel good factor’ that gave B the same boost when TB departed. the Labour party only have themselves to blame for grabbing almost certain defeat from the jaws of a possible 4th term.

  • Paul Rylance

    I’m ignoring the news I can guess how rabid (it is / will be), caught out saying a ridiculous and wrong comment I’m exasperated – there’ll be plenty sweating other off-guard comments don’t surface – as crass as the comment was…was Camerons policy announcement Northern Ireland and the NE of England are going to be his public service slash and burn test beds not more significant or is this where we’re now at….

  • steve

    not posting comments you don’t like are we?

  • Colin Morley

    What the lady said may have caused you or I to consider her something of a bigot – or at least under-informed in the ways of the European Union and its freedom of travel. Nonetheless, Brown is Prime Minister. He may not agree with populist opinion, but he must at least understand it. I don’t buy that anyone could accidentally call someone a bigot – it simply doesn’t wash. I feel very sorry for Gordon, who I believe to be an honest and decent man, but he cannot turn back the clock and all the apologies in the world will not heal the wound. Sadly this was his Kinnock moment. The moment when, off guard, he lost the election for Labour.

  • Alan Parrott

    Maybe it is time for GB to stand down. Much of the support he had has recently vanished and to-day really is such a disaster. It is noticeable that even some of his allies are now keeping in the background. I am surprised that considering the care made to surround him with supporters at the start of the campaign this has been allowed to happen. Maybe its just the truth coming out.

  • kathy

    What patronising drivel from Graham Jones and all the other posters trying to defend Gordon Brown. I come from a working class family and have worked hard all my life raised decent kids who in turn work hard to provide for their families. The difference is I came here myself as a sort of immigrant from Northern Ireland at the height of the troubles. From the day we arrived 37 years ago and the present time we work to provide for ourselves never claiming benefits from anyone. The average working class voters are not taken in by any media spin on immigration. We are intelligent enough to have no problem with immigrants coming in working hard and paying taxes thus contributing to the economy. The problem people have is with the millions of immigrants who come in never learn the language so can never work and so become a drain on the economy. This does not make me a bigot or a racist it is just a fact.I would never advocate people being persecuted, I saw too much of that in my own county, but common sense tells you there is a limit to how many people we can support in this country who are not contributing anything themselves.

  • Tom H

    People are idiots. Do they really think that Nick Clegg or David Cameron don’t slag off people behind their backs after a day of campaigning and after all the TV crews aren’t around? Its just human nature when you’re under so much pressure.
    GB was just extremely unlucky to get caught.

  • Mark Creasy

    Interesting that you cite David Cameron having the Sharon Storer moment- at least he stopped and spoke to the parent wanting to speak to him about education, at the start of the campaign Gordon Brown rushed into his awaiting car and ignored the father wanting to speak to him. Maybe he should’ve done the same today?

    Funny, I’ve often heard it said that people should get to know the Gordon Brown behind closed doors- thankfully today we did! Clearly previous books and reports about him were not so far from the truth and as for your assertion about the media focusing on character- clearly you haven’t paid attention to some of the Labour party own missives. He started the campaign trying to place himself as a “man of the people” with his Presbytarian upbringing giving him his moral compass- seems to be pointing in the wrong direction tonight!

  • Jonathan B

    Rubbish, Alastair. He knew what he meant. GB thought she was bigoted. We all heard him, and we’re not idiots. Though maybe he (and you) think we are? PS – PLEASE stop him smiling. He’s losing votes every time he does it. It is fucking SCARY.

  • bernie

    Yes, it’s true, Brown was mortified. Mortified by being caught red handed expressing his true feelings.

    It was NOT a “mistake” – he said exactly what he thought – and he absolutely meant it.

    No amount of spinning will stop this being a catastrophe for Labour.

  • joannie

    For goodness sake, as GB would say, get real! Can you imagine what all people, politicans included, say all the time, if we were miked up -? And I agree it was a pretty mean trick for the media to play. I listened to what the woman said and you know what – she might not be “bigoted” but it was pretty anti-european and immigration. GB also had a good point when he asked whose idea was it he should to speak her?!

    The media are SO sanctiminious when it comes to things lke this. They just love pointing out people’s faults and then it becomes a big (non) story. I hope this will have a backlash effect in support of GB and people will begin to think of the personal strain and humanity of someone letting off a little steam in a not too unreasonable way.

    As for some of the comments here – let them try to cope with a tiny proportion of what GB does and see how they manage. Why anyone would want to go into politics these days beats me. Basically its public service and you get nothing but beatings – so personal too.

    Gordon – dont be deterred, go for it, and dont be put off in the big debate – I think you have done so much better than has been reflected in the polls. I was going to vote SNP – not now – its GB for me!

  • christopher clark

    Lets get back to the election.I have found a vote swapping site on face book called voting buddies that helps to make your vote count. check it out

  • Stan Rosenthal

    I think that after the duffed-up Duffy affair the line must be don’t punish Gordon by punishing yourselves with another Tory victory (particularly in working-class areas).

  • seanr

    A clear breach of privacy has been committed by Sky News which is owned by Mr Murdoch (conservative supporter) and there is not a single discussion in the media about this.I wonder why.

  • bill s.

    When he came out of Mrs duffys house,and starting his spiel he reminded me of Uriah Heep.
    Fiona Laird stating she can’t stand hypocrisy.that’s rich
    when he asks about her grandchildren then calls he a bigot

  • Ronald Hansen-Luke

    We speak as lifelong Tory supporters.

    My wife and I would like Mr Gordon Brown and his wife to know that we think he is THE right person to win the Election and for a united Labour Party to steer the country through some of the unprecedented financial challenges facing us in the UK.

    Despite the initial reaction to his unguarded comments in the privacy of his car regarding Gillian Duffy, we are of the firm opinion that Mr Brown will discover that the British people who are extremely tolerant, human, generous of spirit and understanding of reactions of all humans under degrees of pressure, will rally round him and carry him shoulder high back into Number 10. He is the man of the moment.

  • Claire W

    It wasn’t a mistake or any of the other excuses that he’s come up with, he simply had the hump because one of his own supporters had had a go at him and it wasn’t what he wanted to hear. At the very least he’d like to think that he appeals to the dyed in the wool labour party supporters and she seemed to be disabusing him of that fact. It is toe curlingly humiliating to be have your veneer stripped away so publically, a case of shooting yourself in the crotch while aiming for your foot. Having said all that I’ll still be voting for him and I’m sure that if we heard DC off the record he’d be revealed as the crashing snob that he really is.

  • LN

    I’m so bored of all of this disingenuous garbage about how terrible it is that people say one thing in public and another in private. Of course they do. It’s called being polite. Gordon Brown has apologised and we should move on to more important issues, for no other reason than to get television reporters who clearly have nothing better to do off that poor woman’s driveway.

  • Leo

    Good job he didn’t pop to the loo before he left… It seems to me a bit of a shame for all concerned but however you look at it he wasn’t overheard in an unguarded moment being complimentary about a lifelong labour voter was he? Now that really would have been a surprise.

  • Ian Brandill

    John Prescott apparently blames the Press for publishing the Prime Minister’s comments.

    The Pantomime season has come early this year – Prescott clearly wants to be made a Dame.

  • Margaret

    This is the end for labour. Brown had been exposed AGAIN for what he really is, a dishonest, opportunistic politician. It is a shame that Labour has fallen this far. I will be voting for Cameron.

  • david

    What rubbish, he was rude about a real person and rude to his ataff “why did you put me with that women?”. He has no idea how to relate to people. Then spending 40 mins with her oh please hes the PM

  • John Rowe

    Alistair you need to be in the car or at very least in the boot keeping an eye on these Young Turks who should have been checking mikes were removed and switched off.
    Set up by SKY. I think so.

  • Jay

    Remember they branded Michael Howard a racist when he tried to raise the subject of immigration the labour party have form on this

  • Moray Newberry

    Alistair’s attempt to portray GB as contrite is a lost cause. You only have to listen to his immediate attempt to pass responsibility to his staff ‘who arranged that’ ‘ridiculous’ and his reference to the ‘press deciding to broadcast’. So as usual not GB’s fault just like the the cost of PFI; the £5b a year rape of our pensionS and the sale of Gold at the bottom of the market.

  • Robert Jackson

    GB’s a good man and did the right thing by going back and apologizing personally and in private.

    A man’s a man for a’ that.

  • Andy

    Look, if Gordon Brown went to see Mrs Duffy against the advice of some of his staff, then perhaps the calibre of some of his staff might not be up to scratch.

    Clearly, this story was always going to run way past the time it took to make a personal visit and apology, and it was clearly necessary to make that personal visit in the interests of damage limitation.

  • Peter J

    Sorry Al, you’ve got this one absolutely wrong. Everyone can see what’s gone on here, and it’s not what you’re suggesting.

    Brown is a disaster – he’s not to be trusted, on this or any other matter.

  • arresta

    Well the nutters are out in force tonight, they’ve had their sweaty little fingers poised over their keyboards for three weeks now and finally they get their “Gordon Brown” moment. It’s yet another reflection of the personality not policy state of mind of the force fed Murdoch led illiterati.

  • David

    So the spin machine is set to damage limitation. Lets be frank the labour party and the small group that leads it are not interested in the real people just the power. Voters get in the way dont they – it’s not the riduclous accusation of bigotry but the dismissal of ordinary voters concerns that is so wrong with this govt

  • Ben G

    Great shame on a personal level – I know all politicians of all parties say things like that in private. But this is really really bad. I’m afraid your man’s toast.

  • vin

    Dear Gordon,

    It is definitely the case that tomorrow we start again.

    Please start beating the drum of “a Tory Party that would do so much damage to our economy, our society and our schools and NHS, not least in places like Rochdale.” louder.

    Please believe, this election is yours/Labour’s to win.

    Very best for the debate. And please study the Pax questions to Cameron and the answers, and of course listen to Alastair,


  • Sue Colley

    Alastair, this is my first attempt at a ‘blog’ and quite likely my last but, having just listened to the rather self satisfied Andrew Rawnsley, I am compelled to do something rather than nothing. I can imagine how Gordon is feeling. I do not know him personally, having only met him once very briefly at the funeral of Evelyne Jones (wife of Jack), at which I was delivering one of the eulogies. I first met Evelyn and Jack in 1984, Evelyne recruited me to the Labour Party and so began a close friendship with them both that lasted until their deaths. I was fortunate to hear at first hand the different events that shaped their lives and, needless to say, received a very thorough political education. From those early days their belief in Gordon was uncompromising and my understanding was that he had a genuine affection for both of them. Over the years there were many times that they shared their hopes for the future with me and the importance of the party having the right leader – in their eyes that was Gordon. Neither of them gave their praises lightly, but on this one thing they would not be swayed. Should you read this and think that Gordon would benefit from being reminded of their belief in him, particularly as we begin this vital last week of the campaign, please do pass on. Needless to say, I have no doubt that both of them would be finding this particular election campaign bewildering – exaclty for the reasons you have been stating in your blog regarding the absence of a policy debate – it often brings a smile to my face just imagining what Evelyne, in particular, would be saying! For all those who have gone before us – let’s demolish our opponents. Sue

  • tim

    This whole episode does wonders for restoring public confidence in politicians eh ? .. GB keeps banging on about morals, restoring respect .. never heard so much crap in all my life .. you’re as bent as the rest !!

  • Vin


    “paul Charles
    2010-04-28 18:28:42


    but she is right,matey we have too many foreigners in the country,some parts of london is like Bagdad….”

    She is wrong matey, my intuition, would have made the same call on her comments as Gordon. And with all those private British military contractors in Iraq, some parts of Baghdad are prostituted and royally screwed over,

  • Neville Phillips

    GB is, without a doubt, now certified dog meat. If Labour had any sense it would have got rid of him ages ago, and pushed that handsome Mr. Milliband to the front. The alternative is what we’ll now get in May: years of Tory misery.

  • Martin robinson

    Well, considering no-one in this country ever says anything behind someone’s back about them, shouldn’t we have a prime minister who reflects this fact? Look at all the hypocrites!!!! Sack the electorate, the media, there goes everybody… I’m moving to Greece 😉

  • Tom Mailey

    Tomorrow nights debate is now the final game play for Labour and Gordon Brown, Alistair. Gordon will have to really speak to the whole country like his life depends on it. For our lives depend on it. If he blows it, then Labour will need to face the reality of letting the Tories win next week. God help us all. Gordon needs to take on board what Gillian Duffy had to say and get the message we are all thinking the same thing. We came through 18 years of Tory mayhem looking for someone to be on the side of hard working people of this country not the wealthy. However, no matter how hard we work and pay our way it never seems enough. So Gordon has to make people like Gillian see that a fair deal is needed if we are going to have to be asked to help turn this country around through NO FAULT of the people of this country. So Alistair, Gordon and Labour now’s your day of destiny. Lose tomorrow, it could be years before you ever get back! Because May 6th will be hell for this country.

  • db

    AC, pse tell us as you are on the inside, why did the Labour party go into this election with such a burnt out old dinosaur of a previous era at the helm, when there are/were so many quality bright young things around ? and this comes from a fading ‘blue’ of the past. what an incredible missed opportunity !

  • Steven

    GB needs to put in an impeccable, nerveless performance tomorrow night. From the quote I saw from R4, NC was reasonably understanding on today`s incident. As sure as eggs are eggs, DC will be like a circling vulture in tomorrow`s debate. No matter how well GB does, he won`t get a good press except in the unlikely event of one or both of the others performing badly. NC too assured to make a bad gaffe – DC will be excessively careful. Testing times….

  • Djunfitforwork

    So xenophobia is now just “telling it like it is”? Wrong!
    I’m glad that there are limits to how xenophobic Labour will be -the anti-racism of the Tories and the Media is pretty thin -both chasing the “zeitgeist” at any cost to race relations and to the antagonism immigrants routinely get after any media flare-up.

    Mrs Duffy of course does not deserve any of this -and was owed an apology. But smug twitterers -Tories and the Media elite deserve no apology -as even Blair said “If you want to play the race card -vote for the other guy” (I’m paraphrasing)

    Now can we get back to Policy and away from moral panics and pop psychology?

  • Tpb

    Only one way to win it now…go grumpy.

    Labour should have told GB to be his self throughout this and leave the smiles to Dave and Clegg. Clearly Gord is focused, determined and sometimes grumpy. The electorate dont care if this is the case as long as he proves he can provide good leadership and get us out of this recession. I would rather have an angry, decent boss than a nice, rubbish one.

    Tell GB to stop smiling, go angry and get portrayed as the strong leader. Tomorrow at the debates its time to get angry and take no prisoners – how would a step away from the lectern and two minute speech go on “not being the most fun leader but the strongest and best for the country”.

  • finnpog

    Unfortunately whether it is true or not it appears that Mr Brown is sorry only for the fact that he has been found out, and for the damage to his campaign. He is best kept away from the public. He has highlighted how removed politicians are from the voters and the real issues for real people.

    Despite the general disdain people have for you I have always had a reserved respect for you Mr Campbell, from what I have read about you and taking away the spin doctor part of your life I think you are probably quite a decent sort of bloke – Maybe it is time to distance yourself from this mess of new labour and leave the sinking ship?

  • Kevin Mackenzie

    The comment made by Alatair regarding the ethics of Sky I have to say that word does not exist within the organisation.Murdoch is pulling the strings here and he is determined to be able to claim that he was the one who yet again decided who the government of this country(Tory) should be. He does not and will not accept to have egg on his chin.This was basic stuff and some of the advisors and entourage really need to ask whether their positions aren’t too much for them. Sky is one of the worst underhanded organisations you could possibly want to deal with they will stop at nothing to ensure they get the result they want.

  • Bar Bar of Oz

    Well, seriously. Why was GB wearing a SKY NEWS mic in the first place?

    And if for some reason it had been decided it was worth the risk why wasn’t it automatic for an aide to take it off at the end of the walkabout?

    The very idea that GB could have been wearing a Sky News mic in the privacy of his automobile is bizarre, but frankly it shouldn’t have been on him in the first place.

  • jon broomfield

    mr campbell
    could you please pass on my respect and support to mr gordon brown, i can understand he is under a lot of pressure, not just with the election campaign but with the country in general at this time, tell him we ALL make mistakes and today was his turn, but don’t let it get him down, be himself not some plastic advertisment just to please the cameras, the truth is what matters not how you wrap it up, it’s a shame that the media and some people are behaving like young children at christmas time, wanting to play more with the box (teivised debates)there new toy arrived in than the toy itself, the labour party has the policies (new toy) and honesty to carry us through the bad times ahead, and i firmly believe that mr brown is the best captain of the ship to steer a safe path through the coming turbulent waters, mr brown and the labour party in general, thank you for making my life so much better in the past thirteen years and i look forward to the next few years with labour in firm control of the helm. THANK YOU

  • @jlocke13

    is this the same Alastair Campbell that used t brief against Gordon Brown? he was angry alright..angry at being so stupid and being caught…!

  • Jock Menzies

    In the event of a Conservative Party victory in the British elections next week…

    Anyone writing a history of Britain’s 2010 election campaign would conclude that it was not won by a public mood in favour of electing a Conservative government. There has been no significant ideological switch. Rather the election had been won as a result of one of the most vicious, sustained and one sided media campaigns against a sitting government and its leader seen in any Western democracy. If anyone doubts this view then I suggest a simple exercise. Go online and examine the political coverage editorials, op-ed pieces, stories and images in any of the leading British newspapers during any week in the past twelve months.

    This overwhelming level of bias has been present at a time when Gordon Brown has had not only a national but a major international role in steering the world through the worst financial crisis since the 1930’s and has been at the forefront of international humanitarian initiatives. These efforts led to him being named World Statesman of the Year in 2009 (a fact generally met with derision in the British press). Nationally, he has presided over unprecedented drops in the UK’s crime rates- down even in the midst of a recession by a further 7% this year. He has ensured record levels of investment in the UK’s health services, education and policing. These are verifiable and, one would expect, newsworthy facts, but Britain’s newspaper editors are remarkably reluctant to reveal them to their readers. Instead, a few months after Mr Brown succeeded Tony Blair as PM, the major British newspapers have been intent on destroying him, with stories and images carefully selected to characterise the PM as `useless’ and `failing’. This tendency has not been confined to the leading right wing newspapers such as the Daily Mail, Daily Telegraph, Daily Express and the Conservative supporting Sun, Times and Sunday Times. An examination of the content of the ostensibly left-of-centre Guardian suggests that in 2009 only two out of hundreds of op-ed pieces were favourable to the PM- one by the Nobel Prize winning economist Paul Krugman and one by the Spanish PM Zapatero. Meanwhile the newspaper editors ran an overt and sustained campaign to remove Mr Brown from office.

    It is an understatement to characterise the coverage of Mr Brown as disrespectful. There are innumerable examples including stories that Mr Brown had been `snubbed’ or otherwise undermined by the US President trailed by the British press prior to meetings with Mr Obama. In responding to an alleged snub on 28th April last year White House spokesman Robert Gibbs dismissed it as completely untrue and added, `stop reading those London tabloids’. What he had not noticed was that the story had been run by the broadsheet Guardian newspaper. In the US comparable treatment of a major political figure would be met with a furious response and major national debate. There are bodies such as the Project for Excellence in Journalism that systematically monitors press bias. The motivations and interests of those engaging in it would be the subject of scrutiny and controversy.

    The 2010 election has recently seen the emergence of some discussion on the political role of Britain’s press unsurprisingly largely confined to the internet. A serious national debate on the press’ motivations and influence is both necessary and long overdue. Britain’s democracy depends on it.

  • Dominic

    I think it would be a touch of brilliance for Gordon to repeat in his opening or closing address tomorrow night the same kind of long list of Labour’s achievements whilst in power that he gave in his speech at the last Party Conference. Watching it was the most moved I have been by a politician – more so than Obama’s victory speech – and encapsulated what politics should be about – achieving things. It was such a positive expression of Labour’s strength. I’m sure it would do his ratings a lot of good and fit with the emphasis on trying to relay his substance in the face of Cameron and his belief that the Tories are entitled to power.

  • Anthony Kennedy

    Tomorrow, Gordon Brown must come out fighting. Gordon shouldn’t have apologised for anything today. The only thing he did wrong was to talk behind someone’s back. It was a mistake and he has already apologised. He’s only human afterall. Most of us do it. It’s a shame he didn’t pull her up on what she said at the time. He should have told her that he didn’t like the tone of how she was talking about fellow citizens of another EU country and that they have every right to be in the UK in the same way that any national of the UK has the right now to travel and work in any other EU country and then go on to mention the 1,000,000 emigrants. It’s a shame he apologised today as he shouldn’t have grovelled for the media, makes him appear weak. Bad advice. He should have gathered the media which shouldn’t have been too difficult today and said that he found such views unacceptable in a modern Britain. He should have stuck to his values.

    Make this point somehow if possible at the debate tomorrow.

    What if she said,
    “ You can’t say anything about the immigrants because you’re saying that you’re… but all these Jamaicans / Indians / Irish / Africans / Asians what are coming in, where are they flocking from? “


    “ Would it have been acceptable if Mrs Duffy had expressed her views about Jamaicans / Indians / Irish / Africans / Asians instead of Eastern Europeans? “

    Would that make her a bigot? What does it take now before you’re labelled a bigot in Britain today? Is it acceptable in the media today to take the side of someone who has a go at East Europeans? Well I’m having none of it. “

    You must fight this and put it back in it’s box … forever. Today this has all been a mess but tomorrow Gordon has to show that he’s a fighter and that he’s the one in control that he believes in what he thinks even if it can’t always be appropriate to express to every thought that enters his head in public. I’m sure your teams are better at choosing the correct words for this than me.

    One thing I learnt today and that is that Gordon Brown is definitely no bigot and I believe this. If there’s no bigotry then everybody is equal. I feel good about this. This is what sticks in my head. This is the selling point. This is the fulcrum about which to turn this around.

  • Fugitive Ink

    Long-time Tory that I am, I’ve got to say that this is the most ridiculous non-story in recent memory.

    Yes, Brown was silly to speak freely when there was any chance at all that his microphone was live. Yes, it was a mistake to speak about Mrs Duffy in the terms he did. But in the end, what we got wasn’t some sub-psychotic, incontinent, profane, phone-flinging rant of the sort the media has taught us to expect from Brown – it was, in fact, a measured assessment of a campaign event that hadn’t worked in the way that was planned, from a man who clearly thinks bigotry is a bad thing, however mistaken (or otherwise) he may have been in detecting it in the present case.

    Tribal allegiances and compulsive Brown-bashing aside, is there honestly anyone out there who truly finds this scenario world-changingly awful? Is there honestly anyone out there who has never been polite to someone in conversation, then rather less polite once that person was out of range? Can we please all talk about something slightly more relevant now, like the distinctly fragile state of the Euro, debt levels and spending plans? And if not, isn’t this actually more of a problem than the fact that our prime minister turns out to be a normal human being, with all the flaws and frailties that inevitably entails?

  • Gail Court

    Well, I thought we’d lost the election there but a good nights sleep puts it in perspective. Look it’s 2 weeks into the campaign, people are tired, mistakes are made. His comments will boost the Labour vote from foreign workers living and working in the UK because they’ll realise GB is keenly aware of anti-immigrant feeling when he meets it. I work with the members of the public, some of whom can be difficult to deal with, and anyone who does that for a living, knows we all make comments off the cuff. Just shows us GB’s human after all. Sky certainly can play dirty. I still believe GB is the right person to steer us through this financial insecurity.

  • joannie

    completely agree with tpb
    Gordon, go grumpy, tell like it is – step away from lectern and take the fight to them!
    Go gordon go!

  • Simon Gittins

    All this does is confirm what most think of Gordon Brown, an incompetent, dishonest hypocrite.
    Unelectable !

  • Maccy

    AC please do something about this.
    The media hypocrisy tag isnt substantiated by what was said. After Mrs Duffy made two consecutive comments – ‘where are they all coming from?’ in the context of looking after the vulnerable, and then ‘all these students who are coming in…’ in the context of university fees, GB made the ‘one million Brits living in Europe’ comment to her first point and then quickly wound down the encounter after the second.
    He didnt placate her and schmooze after what he, and I and many, many other people consider to be bigoted comments.
    GB needs to make clear that immigration does not increase the deficit but in fact the contrary. Just heard the tail end of Alan Johnson on Radio 4 and he hasnt helped. AC do something!!

  • Nicky

    Brown was so obviously set up, probably in reaction to Cameron’s less than satisfactory recent encounters with the public. Jonathan Bickley has said that Cameron’s people had asked him if he and his son would like to meet DC, and as he’s worked with politicians himself in the past, he knew that it was the photo op they were after. What Cameron obviously wasn’t expecting was someone who’d actually read the Tory manifesto and had the temerity to criticise their schools policy. But more than what was said, it was the look Mr Bickley exchanged with his son when Cameron had retreated to his car – a sort of ‘well, that’s us well and truly fobbed off’ look. And no doubt Cameron was having a bit of a moan about the encounter in the privacy of his car.

    By contrast, Mrs Duffy had been quite pleased with GB’s response to what she said. Then the Sky news team got her to listen to their recording of GB’s words in the car, and then filmed her (to them) satisfyingly outraged response. It was publicly humiliating her and hurting her for cynical political ends.

    Overall, the impression I got was that Brown is still more convincing as someone who actually wants to engage with the public. When he told Mrs Duffy that she was a good woman (for her community work) he meant it. Whereas Cameron … as Mr Bickley said, he was just looking for the photo op.

  • Hamish

    I just put the phone down from someone about a planned get-together in a couple of weekends’ time. An old friend, difficult to pin down, who has asked, quite reasonably, to have the date moved, yet again. After I hung up I said out loud, “he’s such an idiot.”

    A man sits in a car for a brief moment that he thinks is out of the 24 hour scrutiny that he is subjected to and makes a private statement about a conversation he has had with a passer-by. His statement isn’t a mindless dig – it’s about a point of deeply-held principle.

    The man got it wrong. He misunderstood, I think, what she said, or so he says, but whether he did or didn’t, he was remarking on a point of principle.

    This off-the-cuff remark, against the backdrop of an incredibly stressful and incredibly important political contest, was recorded and broadcast, arguably unfairly.

    The story has gone worldwide and many of the headlines describe the matter as a “row”. Who is the row with? “Row overshadows”, “Row escalates”. The row is a confection; it is a value judgement that the media are seeking to impose on the electorate. This isn’t news. This is propaganda. This is journotainment. This is what we have come to. We live in an unkind world.

  • Justin Ward

    Many congratulations on your blog piece and its attempt to refocus the boigotgate hoo-ha. The words ‘polish’ and ‘turd’ come to mind.

  • Mike Dodd

    Why oh why did the PLP dump Blair for this non-entity? John Hutton was right – the people who did this should be ashamed of themselves. Even after the Iraq fiasco, Blair would still have won this election.

  • steveo

    Alistair-please tell GB to stop beating himself up and concentrate on savaging DC and the other nonentity tonight.last chance to show who has the policies and not just spin.Time to show up their superficial promises and show what a true statesman looks and sounds like.

  • Chris lancashire

    The problem is that most non-partisan people believe that what we heard from the limo is the real Gordon Brown. And the reason that he was “mortified” is he knows the damage that he has done to his own campaign, not genuine sorrow that he had traduced a perfectly normal person.

  • Simon Ellis

    I have given up supporting Labour and now just cannot be bothered to vote. Brown’s hypocrisy was shameful.

  • Tom Mackenzie

    Just when Gordon Brown had the Tories on the run, he makes a schoolboy error, and not for the first time. If you had been by his side he would still have a labour voter, and many more. For more comment see Jeremy Smyles’ blog;

  • pete

    It was a lesser version of the old Dudley Moore & Peter Cook sketch.
    “Oh hello, lovely to see you, hows the wife & family?”
    etc etc.
    Then, when they part, Cook says under his breath “c**t”..

  • Nick

    What was so damaging about the incident was that it showed in public what many of us who have worked around senior Labour people have known in private- namely that the Left has complete contempt and disdain for the “little people” who’s votes they need.

    I call it the David Milliband/Polly Toynbee Tendency – the people must “know their place” in the order of things. La Toynbee once told me how she knashed her teeth in anger when readers had the cheek to moan to her about poor schools and hospitals !

    The whole incident was incredibly damaging.

  • Viviane

    Watching this from the safety of Australia, I can’t quite understand the fuss over GB’s comments. It showed that he is human and that should be a plus. Bob Hawke as PM in the 80s called a bloke a “silly old bugger” (to his face) and it caused a fuss for a few hours then died down. In 2007 a story came out about Kevin Rudd, then Opposition Leader and now PM, had a skinful in a strip club in New York. His ratings went up after that as it showed that he was a regular bloke after all – he had seemed aloof and nerdy until then.

  • jemimaman

    Gordon Brown – God’s gift to DC & NC. Is he the best the labour party can put forward for a General Election? All the spin and revolting hand wringing of Mandleson can’t save Gordon now – he may be human and he may be letting off steam but he may also be cynical, detatched, false & unelectable

  • Madashell

    What GB did yesterday publicly typifies the New Labour machine and the contempt it has for the British people. We have had years of spin and media manipulation, smear campaigns and briefing against anyone who dared to utter anything other than the party line.
    To read the bleating on here and other socialist blogs is pitiful and pathetic. The New Labour dream deserves its place in history as the real ‘nasty party’ and I, like many others hope it is wiped out on May 6th so we can rebuild this once great nation.
    The likes of Campbell, Mandelson, Whelan, Prescott et al, you should be ashamed of what you have done over the last 13 years.

  • sally

    this was unimaginably funny, we all thought (in my family) that Mrs Duffy was a tory, and it was part of a ‘set u by team Cameron. GBs comments were human, and considering the pressure our PMs under right now, we judged that he handled this lady and her comments well.
    Problem is the media, once again running the show. Some may say that they appear determined to brain wash the british public into reacting in the way they dictate, and unfortunately some do. They’re just feathering their own nests and feeding their own sense of self importance. British voters need to wake up and smell the coffee before next week.

  • Peter Greenhill

    After yesterday, I feel we are well and truely stuffed.This campaaign is moving against Labour with the real possibility that the party will poll less votes than the Lib Dems.Brown was the wrong leader, a pity that nobody had the courage to stand against him.

  • Billy Blofeld

    “Visit was human not political”

    Cos it is you Alastair……….. I’ll take that hook line and sinker and believe you.

  • Ben G

    There’s only one hope – a drastic Plan B.

    Gordon announces tonight at the beginning of the debate that he will seek election on the following basis:

    PM for two years while he (1), fixes the economy, (2) brings in electoral reform. Then he will resign, and Labour will call new election under new leader.

  • Al

    Hi Alastair – well thats that well and truly knackered then – well done to you and the team. Lot of people round here will be hurt badly when the benefits and welfare resources are diminished – i think they are referred to on the latest Labour PPB video are they not. So, great!
    maybe you and the team should now just go mad for broke and go all out on the offensive – its all thats left – probs won’t work but at least we’ll feel better.
    I wonder just how well Cam and crew would be doing if the media wasn’t doing their dirty work and manufacturing popular consent.
    Its sad.

  • Omar, Borehamwood

    GB has at all times tens of people surrounding him at these public events. Please tell me why one of them being paid to look after him could not remind him he had to unarm himself with the microphone.
    The guy deserves all the stick he’s getting but in this instance, someone did not do their job in protecting a man under immence pressure.

  • db

    AC……where are you ? what a week. i liked yr comment on sky last night that GB will remain leader if he wins the election. very subtle. i think you’ve also given up in your heart of hearts. who are the labour strategists ? thye’re crazy. bringing back TB at this time when the GB/TB has been so historically devisive ?? suicide and opening all the old wounds and memories arriving at the last hurdle. that should now have sunk GB. maybe you guys have a strategic position that with the bad news to come this maybe the election to lose ? i can’t think of anything else. and now tonight The Guardian gives its endorsement to the Lib Dems ? never could i have ever believed that could happen in my lifetime.

  • db

    if Labour do actually want to get back into some sort of power, the last throw of the dice should have been to try to keep GB out of the news as much as possible and have maximum coverage of Darling, the Millibands and Balls etc to try to keep GB out of the electorates mind and for them to think more about the wider Labour Party and not one anachronism that somehow still sits at the top

  • db

    AC pse be a good cornerman…..the media are slaughtering your man ! if this had been a boxing match, taking so much punishment, the corner would have thrown in the towel to prevent any more punishment