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Gordon Brown's remarks: Your reaction

14:29 UK time, Wednesday, 28 April 2010

Prime Minister Gordon Brown has been caught on microphone describing a voter he had just spoken to in Rochdale as a "bigoted woman". What is your reaction to his remarks?

Sixty-five-year-old Gillian Duffy had challenged Mr Brown on a number of issues including immigration and crime.

As he got into his car, he was still wearing a broadcast microphone and was heard to say "that was a disaster" and when asked what she said, he replied: "Ugh everything! She's just a sort of bigoted woman."

In response, Mrs Duffy said: "I'm very upset. He's an educated person. Why has he come out with words like that?"

After listening to the recording, with his forehead resting on his hand, he told the Jeremy Vine show on BBC Radio 2: "I do apologise if I've said anything that has been hurtful." Mr Brown later phoned Mrs Duffy to apologise.

Has your opinion of Gordon Brown changed? Should a private conversation remain private? Is this a defining moment of the election campaign or a side issue?


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  • Comment number 1.

    The most refreshing thing about Gordon Brown is that he admits his mistakes & does not claim to be a saint-like Tony Blair! I might yet give him my vote!

  • Comment number 2.

    Mountains and Mole Hills

  • Comment number 3.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 4.

    If the woman was a bigot (we have no way of knowing as we''ve not been given details of the conversation) then Brown should stand by his comments.

  • Comment number 5.

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  • Comment number 6.

    Why are people so shocked, Labour treats anyone that disagrees with their views on Immigration or Crime as bigoted, Racist or just wrong. Gordon Brown is just typical of the Middle Class liberal Elite who believe their own views are the ones that matter.

  • Comment number 7.

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  • Comment number 8.

    I can't say I'm Mr Brown's biggest fan, but I do think that anyone's private conversation should remain so - private.

    If you go earwigging you should expect to hear things you don't like.

  • Comment number 9.

    It's a nothing issue as far as I'm concerned.

    He's just frustrated, he's trying to win an election for goodness sake.

  • Comment number 10.

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  • Comment number 11.

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  • Comment number 12.

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  • Comment number 13.

    Well done, Gordon.

    You have single-handedly guaranteed that we won't have to suffer another Labour Government.

    Thank you, thank you, thank you!!!

  • Comment number 14.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 15.

    This is exactly how Politicians feel about the people. They set the rules and we must agree - once elected they become a benign dictatorship.
    It could have been any of them, they do not wish to listen to public opinion
    Mrs Duffy expressed an opinion which could have been heard anywhere - and if Mr Brown was prepared to listen he would find there are very many bigots.

  • Comment number 16.

    The whole point of this is not whether the woman was a bigot or not, my observation is that Gordon was annoyed that his stage managed walkabout with the people has now been seen for what it is..stage managed!

  • Comment number 17.

    This in my opinion typifies Labour, who appear by their actions to have utter contempt for White British people.Labour say one thing in public and another when they think people aren't listening.

  • Comment number 18.

    Gordon Brown has just thrown away the last hope he had of winning this election.

    You can spin and spin but sooner or later the truth will out.

  • Comment number 19.

    Knowing the Brit. public, I expect many people won't mind too much about the actual comment, which was rather mil danyway. But if GB thought any of her comments were biggoted he should have said so to her face, rather than moan in the car. MP's don't have to agree with every memeber of the public they talk too, just be honest for a change rather than say one thing and think another!

  • Comment number 20.

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  • Comment number 21.

    I've not heard what she actually said, so he could be right in his views of her. Plus, if it turns out her views were biggoted, then this could be a major boost to his popularity, as was the case when 2 jags slapped that farmer guy!

  • Comment number 22.

    At last an indication to this man's vile character is in the public domain. As usual he is blaming others (the media, concerned grandmothers) for his failings. There is light at the end of the tunnel and we can look forward to a future without Brown.

  • Comment number 23.

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  • Comment number 24.

    The mistake she made was to mention immigration. None of the main parties are prepared to reverse our mass immigration problems and won't allow us to discuss it either.

  • Comment number 25.

    Comments aside, I can't believe how the reporters followed the pensioner and didn't let her even answer her phone or get on with things... even at the end of te recording you could still see camera men chasing her down the street.

    I think the reporters have acted worse than any flyaway comments.
    PS, I don't like Brown :)

  • Comment number 26.

    This should not have happened. (a) He should have been told that his microphone was still active, (b) he should not have said it.

    Do we really think politicians do not make remarks about us, negative as well as positive? We throw enough muck at them.

    Sadly this will give the media, especially the anti New Labour press a field day.

  • Comment number 27.

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  • Comment number 28.

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  • Comment number 29.

    Seems like we finaly found out GB's opinion of people who dare to disagree with his views.
    The Lady only asked questions that millions of people would like to hear answered.
    There was only one Bigot taking part in that discussion and it wasn't the lady.
    It will not matter how many times he makes meaningless apologies, the damage is done.
    I would have respected him far more if he had the guts to confess that what he said was what he really thought.
    I have just used my postal vote, guess what??, it was NOT for NU-Lab or any other prospective totalitarian regime.

  • Comment number 30.

    Brown has apologised for upsetting Mrs Duffy. This is good. However, the question still remains: Is Mrs Duffy a bigot ? Was she prejudiced in her views and intolerant of the opinions of others ? Until we have the full details of the conversation between Mrs Duffy and Mr Brown, I can only commend him for apologising for causing upset.

  • Comment number 31.

    Elementary mistake for an experienced politician. Will cost Labour 0.5% on 6 May. His comment could have been a lot worse.

  • Comment number 32.

    He`s finished.


    We have proof now of what we`ve long suspected.

  • Comment number 33.

    Should a private conversation remain private? Yes it should, but this conversation was NOT private - it was recorded on his microphone hence why we as the public and the media heard it being said. Surely he knows he should have kept quiet, until the microphone was removed and they had driven away? I know I've been frustrated and ranted after dealing with a customer at work, but this should be a vital lesson for all - remember never ever ever to utter another word like this UNTIL you're certain no one can hear you.

  • Comment number 34.

    Can't believe Lord Mandy is saying that it was the heat of the moment kind of comment....

    This is in response to a Labour supporter, asking fairly standard questions what most people are thinking...

    Imagine Gordon's response if he had to hold talks heated with the Iranian or North Korean Presidents?
    Based on that performance, he couldn't hold his temper as is no doubt a liability to this country

    He has shown himself to be an embarrassment and can not ever be considered statesman like.

  • Comment number 35.

    My guess is that 9 out of 10 politicians say things like Mr Brown said once they believe they no longer on air. As a BBC reporter said, many will be reacting by thinking "there but the grace of God go I"

    We say that we want politicians to be more honest and say what they really believe, but they all know that if they did so, they would never win an election. Politicians are immersed in politics and have a much deeper understanding than the average member of the public, and almost all must be frustrated on occasions, by the naivety of the some members of the public, especially those that rely on the "red top" press for their information.

  • Comment number 36.

    Mr Gordon Brown should not be prime minister of the UK. He should be in jail for financial crimes against the UK from when he was chancellor and now PM.Teflon Tony should be in the same cell.

  • Comment number 37.

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  • Comment number 38.

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  • Comment number 39.

    Gordon try not to put your foot in it again plsss, but I will not be basing my vote on comments gordon has said instead what his party intends to do.

  • Comment number 40.

    Who has not left a meeting, and turned to one's colleagues to let of steam. How would we feel if that was recorded and passed to the individual in question?

    I am apalled that Sky News has broadcast this, no matter how "news worthy" it is: don't be suprised if you find politicians less willing to help you out in future

  • Comment number 41.

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  • Comment number 42.

    Oh what a surprise! He should be good at spotting the characteristics of a bigot though, being one himself. The guy is a joke, an unelected joke, who needs booting out the door. Not that Clegg or Cammy are any better. Same shoes, different feet. I'm convinced that Lab/Lib/Con conspire behind closed doors anyway. For me there is just one big party containing the three, and their not too bothered about who leads it. All I can say is that the only thing learnt from World War 2 is that if you want to be a dictator, pretend to be a democrat. The only problem for them now is that it's becoming very transparent.

  • Comment number 43.

    I think this event has been blown massively out of proportion and I was shocked to see it as the BBC Website's top story. All the party leaders are under huge pressure and to see those images of Brown with his head in his hands made me feel so upset. He is only human, after all; I'm sure he's not the only politician to have made such remarks in private, he's just the unlucky one who had it transformed into a media frenzy.

    This is not to ignore the understandable upset of Mrs. Duffy; of course, Brown never meant his comments to be heard by her and again, we all say things about others which we wouldn't say to their faces: that does not legitimize Brown's comments but it justifies their not being so ridiculously seized upon by the BBC and others. I think the media has made this experience much more unpleasant for Mrs. Duffy as well. Please stop this vicious kind of reportage and focus on the political issues at stake.

  • Comment number 44.

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  • Comment number 45.

    So it was blame the aid, blame the media and blame the voter then?

    Oh dear...

  • Comment number 46.

    This is a side of Gordon Brown we really needed to see. Many have alluded to it, others have denied it existed but now we have proof of the contempt he has for anyone who disagrees with him in any way. I hope the Labour waverers take note and act accordingly. I knew he wasn't fit for the job before this, now I know I'm right to believe it so.

  • Comment number 47.

    At last Gordon shows something of himself, rather than the manufactured/ false characature we see on our screens every day spouting propaganda.

  • Comment number 48.

    Very little surprises me about Gordon Brown and his comments today are no exception. I do not think he understands what the word apology means.
    I quote .. "I do apologise IF I've said anything that has been hurtful".
    Why the use of the word 'if'?
    Well Mr. Brown, people may vote for you and your party and your record in government come polling day ... that's of course 'IF' they believe a word you say any more!

  • Comment number 49.

    I feel kind of sorry for the guy... I was never going to vote for him, but if you see the clip of the woman... moan moan moan, she just wouldn't give up.
    No doubt the Brown haters will have a field day, and it is their reactions that would be more likely to influence me. I don't like to see people being kicked when they're down.

  • Comment number 50.

    Gordon is forever saying he listens. But he clearly is only using us to retain power...

    The lady was correct in answering the question. She was right to question how the debt would be cleared... maybe she would do a better job!

  • Comment number 51.

    "Speaking on Radio 2's Jeremy Vine show, Mr Brown said: "Of course I apologise if I've said anything that's been offensive and I would never put myself in a position where I would want to say anything like that about a woman I'd met."

    What he means is he would never want to be heard publicly saying anything like that. Now you see what you will get if you vote for Gordon Brown - as two-faced as you can get (and to do it in Rochdale too!)

  • Comment number 52.

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  • Comment number 53.

    Why was so much news time devoted to a single incident, a mistaken word, said in private, for which profuse apologies have been made in triplicate.
    There is much bias at the moment against Gordon Brown and the Labour party at the BBC and its political comments department: I thought you were meant to be impartial.

  • Comment number 54.

    Of course, Cameron never says anything like that..... the foreign-billionaire-owned Sun and Sky are crying with tears of happiness though. It's nothing, but expect great howls of outraged "shock" from the hypocritical right-whingers.

  • Comment number 55.

    Gordon Brown has arrived back in Rochdale to apologise in person to Gillian Duffy.

    Watch live and see reaction to this meeting on the BBC website's rolling election coverage:

  • Comment number 56.

    gordon, george ratner sends his commiserations

  • Comment number 57.

    Could Gordon Brown have done anything more to shoot himself in the foot? What a bumbling two-faced fool that man truly is.

  • Comment number 58.

    What gets me most is the hypocritical eagerness of the media to trivialise the issues as usual: the almost orgasmic joy of the pundits in having caught someone out.

    The man's been on the stump for weeks, he's tired, he's irritable, he's got a lot on his mind. He's talking in private to someone - or so he thinks.

    So the veil of pretence and make-believe is punctured for a moment and reality intrudes. So what?

  • Comment number 59.

    I see that GB has now arrived at Mrs. Duffy's house to make a personal apology -- does she have a stable door ?

  • Comment number 60.

    I'm not a great fan of Gordon, but it's painful to watch this happen to anyone. Poor guy.
    I didn't like his radio interview when he said 'if, IF, I've said something ...' or whatever he said. Typical answer from a politian.
    Poor, poor lady. She's right to ask what was bigoted with what she said, I'd like to know the answer to that too.
    The other day people on Today programme were talking about Gaffs through the ages during election time, this seems to be a pretty big gaff and I would certainly think it'll cost Gordon the election.

  • Comment number 61.

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  • Comment number 62.

    If we all spent our day wired to recording media we would have very few friends. Our politicians are only human.

  • Comment number 63.

    Why all the fuss about this 'off the record' comment? Is it really any different than the way David Cameron turned his back on the student activist asking him questions the other day? Surely the Prime Minister proved himself the better and more polite politician by engaging in a conversation with this woman? Cameron seems to think that if someone disagrees wit his policy, (does he yet have one?) or asks a legitimate question he can just turn his back and all is well with the world, no I really fail to see how the PM's , perhaps ill judged, comments can cause such a furore

  • Comment number 64.

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  • Comment number 65.

    Sadly I think this is yet another Murdoch media set up. Brown ought to know the whole Murdoch press is out to get him and therefore he should have taken off the mike, but I KNOW that this is just the type of remark senior Tories make about voters and people in general so it is merely a 'letting off steam' in the height of the election when people are tired. If it goes on everyday in Labour it is a bit worrying as it shows Labour are becoming just like the Nasty Party's snobby sense of superiority and smearing anyone is fine to them and their Murdoch mates.

    Of course if David Cameron made it Sky would simply have held it back which journalistically I believe they are supposed to do ethically.

    This was not excusable I know but both the major parties do it. Interestingly it is not the kind of remark I have ever heard a Liberal or LibDem make as they are the nice people party by comparsion with the main 2 parties who are in it for straight power and will trample on anyone to get it. No one has joined the LibDems for an easy route to power (hitherto)!

  • Comment number 66.

    This certainly hasn't coloured my opinion of Gordon Brown, it was a private comment and he had just been grilled in the street, he tried to talk to her but she just talked over him, she saw immegration as a drawback rather than a benefit, it sounds like she fits the description of a biggot to me. Too bad the media will twist it to make him look like the devil when he is a human just like the rest of us.

  • Comment number 67.

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  • Comment number 68.

    Sadly this shows the massive stress and pressure all our senior politicians are under at this time.

    It wasn't a conversation - it was two people talking AT each other, one putting her list of complaints and the other making his standard political statements which weren't what the lady wanted to hear.

    She represented the real concerns of many older voters in an industrial urban area who are (or were) diehard Labour supporters. In that sense it was a golden opportunity for GB to address those issues which might see many Labour voters turning to the other main parties or even the BNP. And it was lost through his narrow approach to conversation, with GB preferring to make campaigh soundbites rather than engage with her.

    But what it also seems to show, even more sadly, is that GB is a man with strong personal views who struggles to understand when others see things differently. And especially when they openly criticise his views in public. He just won't listen.

    Nor does he understand that making those repetitive atatements and giving the statistics he has learned by heart do not answer the questions of individual voters.

    I am right, says GB and woe betide those who disagree.

  • Comment number 69.

    I really couldn't care less what Gordon Brown said when he thought he was speaking privately to his staff in his car. Partly because I don't think many of us can afford to throw stones here (thank goodness my private conversations aren't broadcast on 3 TV and radio channels), and partly because I'm not voting for Gordon Brown. I am voting Labour, however and I really wish that the media would stop running a presidential campaign and realise that Brown is the leader of the Labour party, not the embodiment of the Labour party. David Cameron seems like a nice guy but I will never vote conservative because I disagree with the way they want to run this country. Nick Clegg is a great speaker, but does that mean the Liberals are the right party to take Britain out of recession? It's not about a person, it's about policy.

  • Comment number 70.

    How can he possibly say 'he meant no offence'? He made the comment lucidly and vehemently. Would he apologise if he hadn’t been caught? Absolutely not. That's how Brown responds to those that want him in power. What hope for the rest of us...

  • Comment number 71.

    No apology needed, the comments reflected his true opinions - Brown and his colleagues all seem to regard anyone who so much as mentions the word immigration as racists. We are not even allowed to discuss it. That head in the sand attitude and the abdication of responsibility by the major parties are precisely why parties such as the BNP will get a lot of votes, far more than they could otherwise hope or deserve to attract. The electorate now knows beyond a doubt Brown's true opinions and will judge his party on them.

  • Comment number 72.

    This is brilliant, you could not make it up

  • Comment number 73.

    It would be fine if he'd said it to her face but as 30 seconds previously he was asking after her grandchildren if shows him up to be a 2-faced back stabber.

    Honesty is politics? From him?

  • Comment number 74.

    I am Labour voter but am also deeply concerned about the effects of immigration on our way of life as are millions of other people and Gordon Brown has just called me and millions of other people BIGOTS !! . I am afraid he has lost this one because he has exposed Labours deliberate social engineering to make the UK a multiracial society. Politicians can talk the talk and just get in their cars and drive away from places like Rochdale etc , they dont have to live in these places where life has changed so much that it is like living in another country. Mind you tories are no better as they want cheap labour and Lib Dems want us to all hug an immigrant. Think i will have to go with UKIP

  • Comment number 75.

    Unfortunately, some questions can't be asked now without being labelled either bigot, racist, homophobic et al. To hold virtually any views contrary to the PC liberal elite invites such a label now, though the terms themselves have become meaningless through overuse, being as they are often applied to anyone with a difficult or unwelcome question.

    As for challenging the prime minister, well good for you Mrs Duffy, it's about time someone asked him some difficult questions and took him to task for wrecking the country.

  • Comment number 76.

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  • Comment number 77.

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  • Comment number 78.

    C'mon...The man was miked up and an off the cuff remark about someone who sounds like a bigot was reported. Leave the guy alone..You are allowed to have views you know..

  • Comment number 79.

    What I find most telling about the clip was how it exposes the New Labour culture of blaming subordinates.

    Brown's very first comment after muttering that the exchange was a disaster is to angrily say "Whose idea was that?". I doesn't seem to occur to him that the exchange might have been a disaster because of his own actions. He could have said "I didn't handle that well".

    Does this explain why New Labour ministers never resign?

  • Comment number 80.

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  • Comment number 81.

    Is anyone seriously surprised at this? Politics in this country is grounded in self serving hypocrisy and doublespeak. No-one should wonder that respect for politics and politicians is at an all time low. There is no honour or honesty in either .

  • Comment number 82.

    A gaffe's a gaffe.
    I suppose Brown & Co. could be blamed for not communicating the many nuances of immigration/emigration, EU/non-EU etc. prior to the campaign. Nevertheless, Duffy's `Eastern European' comments reminded me of my witnessing Pierre Trudeau on the Canadian campaign trail years ago. He was asked by a university student `why do we have to have so many foreign [lecturers]?' to which Trudeau instantly blasted into the microphone: `get that idiot out of here.' To applause. And no headlines.
    So Brown is actually a bit of a shy coward in my personal view. Shy people can be seen, sometimes correctly, unfortunately, as impersonal bullies at times. As we have seen in the past.

    The Tories might assume this will all swing their way because of Lib-Dem immigration issues but they ought not to count on it. There are actually ways for Lib-Dems to swing (enough of) the fallout their way.

  • Comment number 83.

    Why should he apologise. He gave an opinion on the woman - what's wrong with that?

    This is a farce.

  • Comment number 84.

    It just goes to prove that the stories of his temper are correct. He is I'm sure a hard working person but he is extremely awkward in public and certainly does not have suitable public profile. He has said many times that he is listening to what concerns ordinary people, and this proves that that was just for PR purposes. What this lady said may offend some people but many many people in areas affected by the topics mentioned are a very very serious concern to many ordinary hard working citizens. Politicians must take these concerns seriously. GB's time is up, who will take over the Labour leadership after the 6th May.

  • Comment number 85.

    I'd say Gordon Brown just about sums up most politicians!

  • Comment number 86.

    It just goes to show how this PM has become completely detached from the reality he has created for us.

    Of course anyone who has differing views then our exalted leader must be a bigot.

    She asked a good question, one which concerns a great deal of people in this country, not because they are bigoted or racist, but because they can see that the country cannot sustain the numbers pouring through our borders.

    His comments make his stance clear: nothing will change.

  • Comment number 87.

    Mandelson said, in regard to Brown's gaffe :
    "It is very unfortunate that this remark that he didn't believe got picked up. But he should be judged on how he responded."

    Is that not what is happening? Brown made a comment that I think any reasonable person would find fairly offensive, and now he is being judged for it. And in my opinion, it reveals him to be the arrogant, contemptuous ass he always appeared to be.

    The sooner this dour misanthrope and his sycophantic lickspittles are removed from public office, the better.

    Now, how does one go about undoing a Peerage...?

  • Comment number 88.

    He's got an opinion, just like anyone else. I'm sure all of the party leaders have said similar, or worse. Gordon Brown was just unlucky enough to be caught. For me, this whole election is a side issue. I couldn't care less what any politician says.

  • Comment number 89.

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  • Comment number 90.

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  • Comment number 91.

    Having heard what she said, I think Brown was remarkably restrained. Of course there is no coincidence that it was a Sky News microphone that was left switched on is there! Perish the thought!! Stinks of Murdoch/Sky dirty tricks department - a complete set-up from start to finish?

  • Comment number 92.

    Its all right he is visiting her now and will apologise in person. No doubt after a couple of promises (grants and benefits etc!) Mrs Duffy will emerge and state she is now voting Labour again. Job done, never mind! That is until the next time! However what we will not see for the rest of this campaign is Labour allowing Gordon to move anywhere without the obligatory balloons and placards espousing all things Labour.

  • Comment number 93.

    He wants to run the country? He can't even remember he's got a microphone on! Quite apart from that, isn't politics SUPPOSED to be about accepting thet people have different views and discussing them as rational adults, not throwing a fit when someone disagrees with you?

    Sorry.. sorry... I'll go back to my fantasy world where that happens...

  • Comment number 94.

    If we're all honest, we all say this sort of thing if we think we're not being heard. I actually think it's quite mild. Gordon Brown is under a lot of pressure. Let's give him a break. To me, this just shows his human side, as if he's just a normal person. Do you honestly not think Cameron makes similar comments when the microphones are off him? This would not affect my decision to vote Labour or not one little bit.

  • Comment number 95.

    Gillian Duffy is a typical "Lancashire Lass".She asked Mr Brown some very pertinent questions and he after some Brown smirks,he treated Mrs Duffy with his usual contempt.In eight days time we will show Mr Brown, the contempt we have for him.For a start you will see the Labour, North -West seats fall like ninepins and the rest of the country will follow.

  • Comment number 96.

    defo looks like a woman to me...

  • Comment number 97.

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  • Comment number 98.

    For Godsake,Does the Prime minister has to be a saint!!!!I had many experiences where people say differently in public and private.That is human nature.Is he not allowed to express himself? atleast privately!!!He is a great man .Atleast he appologised..............Istill support him.

  • Comment number 99.

    Finally - the Labour Party are exposed as sexist and ageist?

    If that elder lady's comment came out of the mouth of a young male - very different response from the PM me thinks?

  • Comment number 100.

    I have suspected for a long time that Our elected politicians privately hold us in comtempt, Gordon Brown has now confirmed this.

    What worries me more is that any anyone who has a legitimate concern about levels of immigration is labled a Bigot. This plays right into the hands of the extreme right wing.


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