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'That was a disaster'

Nick Robinson | 13:48 UK time, Wednesday, 28 April 2010

Never has Gordon Brown spoken truer words. He was describing his encounter with the soon-to-be-very famous Mrs Gillian Duffy of Rochdale.

It was, though, not the public encounter itself but the prime minister's private comments about it which were so disastrous.

On camera he handled himself and Ms Duffy's questions well leaving her so pleased that she was happy to tell reporters she'd be voting Labour.

Off camera but still on microphone the prime minister showed another face entirely - dubbing Mrs Duffy a bigoted woman and criticising his aide Sue Nye for fixing for them to meet.

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The apology that followed in Jeremy Vine's radio interview was scarcely better. Perhaps unaware that he was being filmed, as well as heard, Gordon Brown could be seen with his head in his hands.

There are at least three reasons that this will have caused Gordon Brown and his advisers such dismay.

It highlights a huge gap between the prime minister's public and his private demeanours.

It catapults the issue of immigration to the top of the political agenda. Mrs Duffy had expressed concerns to him about the high level of East European immigration and her feeling that her home town was becoming like "a third world country".

Finally, the leader of the Labour Party has insulted one of the very type of voter it's so vital for his party to hang on to - older, white and traditionally Labour.

Of course, many may have some sympathy with the prime minister who had no idea that his private remarks would be heard let alone broadcast.

Some will say that words said in the heat of the moment in private at a time when he is tired and under great strain matter little.

Others will insist that it is Gordon Brown's judgements and actions and not his words and attitudes that matter.

My hunch is that is very very unlikely to comfort him as he fights for his political life.


Page 1 of 11

  • Comment number 1.

    Gordon Brown is a disaster. Period.

    Taxi for Brown!

  • Comment number 2.

    This is why Mandleson stopped Brown from meeting real people. Brown is a clown, a two faced clown who says one thing to win votes but believes another thing in private. This is the end of Labours campaign. Calling your own supporters bigots is not the way to win elections.

  • Comment number 3.

    As this is being stated as a private conversation by Gordon it just goes to show what he _really_ thinks of the average voting person - complete contempt.

    I utterly fail to see how anyone - let alone the purported 28% or thereabouts of the population - could possibly want to see this odious man and his ghastly cronies run the UK government and represent us to the rest of the world for the next 5 years.

    Gordon Brown on taking over as UK Prime Minister and succeeding Tony Blair, June 27 2007:

    "I will listen and I will learn. I will strive to meet people's aspirations. I want to lead a government humble enough to know its place - where I will always strive to be - and that is on people's side."

    really ?

  • Comment number 4.

    Nick, I liked this piece on the evolving BBC news page:

    BBC political editor Nick Robinson said it was a disaster for the prime minister because it showed the gap between his public face and private face.

    "For those of us who have known Gordon Brown for many years, what we have seen is no huge surprise. He has got better and better at handling himself in public, but quite often he flares up in private, expresses frustration," he said.

    There'll soon be a day when you can write you memoirs without fear that your "sources" will desert you!

  • Comment number 5.

    @1 Robin

    (Ok, you're comment hasn't appeared yet - but it's easy to predict what you're saying...)

    Don't forget to remind Brown to turn off the mike before he gets in the taxi!

  • Comment number 6.

    Caught! Mr Brown shows his true colours and they are not nice. Not nice at all. His attempt to say that he was referring to Mrs Duffy's question about Eastern Europeans is contradicted by the evidence: he was referring to everything she had said. And at the first leaders' debate this exchange took place:

    Audience Questioner: Good evening. What key elements for a fair, workable immigration policy need to be put in place to actually make it work effectively?

    Gordon Brown : You know, I’ve heard the concerns around the country. I’ve been listening to people. I know people feel there are pressures because of immigration. That’s why we want to control and manage immigration.

    So why was Mrs Duffy a "bigot"? Mr Brown is, to put it mildly, lacking in sincerity.

  • Comment number 7.

    The mic that caught these comments was placed on behalf of Rupert Murdoch by Sky News. A staunch supporter of the Conservatives.

    In order to judge the situation fairly we must be provided with a truthful account of what David Cameron said in private, following his meeting with the man and his disabled son yesterday where Cameron was visibly flustered and annoyed.

  • Comment number 8.

    Why has a PRIVATE conversation been blown up to make headline news? The woman could well have been a bigot, but the media hype is out of all proportion and completely unjustified. Gordon still has my vote - he's only human after all and has been very much maligned by the media.

  • Comment number 9.

    Brown's political life will be saved by postal votes but those very postal votes will end the UK's reputation for being a beacon of democracy.

  • Comment number 10.

    This episode has finally and incontrovertible demonstrated the utter contempt this man has for the ordinary people of this country, even those who have supported his shoddy party.
    Hopefully it will, once and for all, debunk the myth that he has *any* of the qualities necessary to govern this nation.

  • Comment number 11.

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

  • Comment number 12.

    OK here goes. For someone who over the past years had made a case for his moral compass and being a son of the manse, the his words show nothing of these. Where is the charity for which his father was allegedly renowned? It was that led him to the Labour Party. "Without Charity I am but a sounding gong...... it would appear that our PM is without charity.

    So which words do we believe that he is a son of the manse has morals or that he doesnot care for anyone but himself?

    On another front; why does he feel so affronted that a little old lady would question his policy? Who pays his wages? As he is not the head of state is in fact no different from the rest of the population why does he hide behind such a security screen? Politicians should meet the people the ordinary people not those selected by the party.

  • Comment number 13.

    "I apologise for what I said"

    "I apologise if what I said caused any offence"

    Anyone think those are two different sorts of apology? Brown gave the latter.

  • Comment number 14.

    This is appalling, and shows just why this man should never, ever have held high office. Brown isn't even bright enough to realise how stupid he is!

  • Comment number 15.

    If Cameron had said what Brown did, many media outlets including the bbc would have accused him of being an arrogant upper class toff.

  • Comment number 16.

    I wish you would give the man a break. We are all human and say unguarded things and have our own opinions. In the scheme of things this matters very little. Elections should be decided on policies not personalities.

  • Comment number 17.

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

  • Comment number 18.

    Well we finally see Mr Brown for what he is- foul tempered and dismissive of anyone who does not hold his opinion- what this polite lady spoke about is what is on everybody's mind- the economy, jobs and immigration. To be dismissed as a bigot is unforgiveable. Why is an individual a bigot for questioning the government's immigation policy (which is a joke in any case)?? Points based system- more like points make prizes- (speaking as a former immigration officer) !!!!

  • Comment number 19.

    The issue is that he has told us all what he really thinks of traditional Labour voters. The only decent thing he can do for the Labour party is to step down right now.

  • Comment number 20.

    Mrs Duffy the pensioner from Rochdale really gave Brown a good going over. And congratulations to her for asking all the questions we would dearly love to have been able to ask him ourselves.

    What happened later was what we have long suspected.

    Brown dislikes the people he is expecting to vote for him.

    Poor people are expected to be grateful and not question anything he has done. Well he may find a lot more people are questioning him now.

  • Comment number 21.

    So. Gordon Brown is an over-tired, over-stressed human being. Frankly, I'd be surprised and worried if he wasn't, the ridiculous way we go about choosing leaders in this country.

    First, I trust the BBC will give equal air-time to 'private' recordings of the other leadership candidates. Otherwise, I call bias.

    Second, for the next election, make it a condition of candidacy for public office that everyone wears a sound recorder/radio mike for the duration - from the moment they hand in their nomination form (and pay their deposit) to the moment the polls close. Make it non-removeable, like an ASBO tag. That would do away with the public statement / private spin dichotomy. And put an end to the offensive blood-sport of the gaffe-hounds.

    Richard Haselgrove

  • Comment number 22.

    'He was letting off steam after a difficult conversation'

    Is this how we expect our PM to act ? Someone challenges him and his reponse is to insult them behind their back ? So now we finally see what our PM is like !

    This behaviour is the same we've seen on the TV Debates - Brown simply doesn't listen to anyone.

    What this country has lacked for the last 13 years has been a Government that LISTENS to the people.

    Brown has shown his true colours - and even core Labour voters will be turned off by it I think. I doubt there is any way he can recover this situation now. He and the Labour party are sunk.

  • Comment number 23.

    Oh dear! Brown illustrates his utter disdain for the voters for all to see! This encapsulates the personality of the man nicely. He's a pitiful sight in his political death throes.

  • Comment number 24.

    It proves the guy is human. We have all had to deal with stressful situations with people in our work place and have walked out of meeting and had a mutter about someone or something. It was perhaps unfortunate for Mr Brown that in the media hyped world we live in, a big deal is being made of it.

  • Comment number 25.

    Oops! Then again, according to the BBC News article, the microphone in question belonged to Sky News (whose boss could be said to prefer the colour blue) - so it's hardly surprising they made a big issue out of it.

    I wonder if they'll try fitting a certain other political leader with a radio microphone in the hope he falls into the same trap?

  • Comment number 26.

    What's the word from Mandy and Al?

    More Elvises and Peppas on the way?

  • Comment number 27.

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

  • Comment number 28.

    Anyone wishing to celebrate what will hopefully be Gordon's last gaffe in office, I'd suggest dusting off your copy of 'the laughing policeman' and playing it over and over again.

    Suits the mood.

  • Comment number 29.

    This comment has been referred for further consideration. Explain.

  • Comment number 30.

    You've got to reckon that's it for Brown now, a massive mistake, the last of many.

    Can't wait till Friday night when Paxman gets hold of him, Paxo will just goad him till he loses it.

  • Comment number 31.

    It is really sad to see the once great Labour Party brought so low by such an inept politician as Brown. Anyone in his position should have been a little more aware of what is going on around him.

    Right from the start you got the feeling that he spent all those years waiting to grab power that, now he has it, he won't give it up for anything. This leaves the impression that, for him, it is all about power and personal ambition.

    If Labour had changed their leader 3-6 months ago it might not have saved them but it could not have done them more damage that Brown is causing.

    The other sad thing is that this is playing into the hands of a still class riden Tory party.

  • Comment number 32.

    People who are are able to blame the perceived problems of this country on the migrants from east europe should be prepared to accept the label of bigot. It is not the fault of the poles that they filled jobs in a rapidly expanding UK job market and then the crisis initiated by the likes of Goldman Sachs left the UK,and the rest of the world, in a very bad condition.
    The tendency to blame a sub-group of society is as old as history but it is bigoted none the less. Perhaps others would like to justify the actions of the bigots in 1930's Germany. The problems in the UK do come from abroad but they are not the fault of Polish cleaners or bar worker but American bankers on Wall Street.

  • Comment number 33.

    What a nice man.

  • Comment number 34.

    Well there we have it. Browns complete disconnect with the electorate. It demonstrates clearly that he wants complete control in managing his soundbites. It was nothing to do with urgency for another meeting. It was a) why one of his aides had not found a better stooge. b) "Ordinary"
    should not raise their own concerns unless he has vetted those concerns in advance. A closet dictator?

  • Comment number 35.

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

  • Comment number 36.

    Unfortunately this "gaffe" just confirms what many of us have thought all along, that Gordon Brown has utter contempt for the ordinary people of this country, and ordinary Labour voters concerns in particular.

    He spent most of his years as Chancellor hob nobbing with the elite of this country and had a number of prominent bankers as friends and advisors.

    His recent claim that he is "middle class" and understands them, sounded very hollow.

    It is obvious that what he says in public is very different than what he says in private.

    This is just confirmation of that.

  • Comment number 37.

    Try as you may,Nick, there's no way you can airbrush this one. Our mate Gordon has once and for all revealed his true colours ! Yes it's all true - justice for all finally ! PM ? A lying disgrace to the country more like. Meet the people ? We're all beneath him and Mandleson ! Forget tomorrow Gordon _ resign NOW !

  • Comment number 38.

    In practical terms, though a monumentally stupid thing to do, this is far, far less important than it seems, or than it will be treated. In the real world, this is the end of Gordon Brown. Even if we do end up with a Lib-Lab coalition government, he's all but ruled himself out of it. He's made himself a liability. He could spend the rest of the week throwing banknotes from a hot-air balloon and it still won't help, because everything he does is going to be shadowed by this one dumb thing he did today.

  • Comment number 39.

    So the true Gordon Brown is revealed, not only is he paranoid, he is also keen to blame someone else for problems of his own making.

    It is clear that he really doesn't like meeting people and he doesn't like criticism. Remember that interview with Adam Boulton at the Labour party conference.

    What we see is unpleasant, why have so many worked so hard to hide this side of his character from the public?

  • Comment number 40.

    "Finally, the leader of the Labour Party has insulted one of the very type of voter it's so vital for his party to hang on to - older, white and traditionally Labour."

    Nick what does the skin colour of a voter got to do with the incident? Do not Eastern European citizens share the same skin pigmentation?

    Right or wrong the PM expressed what he 'sensed' from Mrs Duffy's comment/rant following an encounter he clearly did not want to experience; it is regrettable that his Mic was live and it will damage him, but let's not cast the first stone Nick or stir the pot like so many of your media colleagues of an anti GB or Labour persuasion will now no doubt do.

  • Comment number 41.

    Honestly, all the politicians lie out of their backsides on camera, then say what they really think off camera. Brown just happened to get caught - he's almost certainly no worse than Cameron or Clegg. The media have a duty to act responsibly here and not blow everything out of all proportion. Naturally, they will shirk this duty, because that is what they do.

    I am not a Labour supporter but media storms over petty issues like this do nothing to help the common good.

  • Comment number 42.

    We all say things in private to mates that don't necessarily reflect our real opinions. It what he plans to do that counts. Can we please bring this election back to policies... you have a responsibility to do that Nick.

  • Comment number 43.

    "Brown's disaster"

    Actually, Nick, you mean "Brown IS A disaster". Many of us have known that since before he became PM. How odd that all the smartpants in the media didn't. Only someone with half a brain could possibly vote for this - putting it kindly - nincompoop.

  • Comment number 44.

    The other depressing feature of this incident is that it highlights the dreadful moral absolutism of this government.

    This lady happens to disagree with Brown over immigration. She has the right to her own opinions. Not everyone has to buy into Labour's PC agenda.

    Yet the sheer temerity of disagreeing with Labour makes her "bigoted", apparently. This is supposed to be 2010 - but it often feels like 1984, as Orwell foretold it.

  • Comment number 45.

    Do I see Jennifer's ear?

    I don't think so. Ill judged and arrogant his remarks may be, but that is British civil life when all politicians and civil servants have disdain fro the common people and our trial and tribulations.

    They have their 5 million pound personal pension pots (see Mervyn King for example) but begrudge the pensioner a vial winter heating allowance. But that is the modern manifestation of the class system - to bankers there must be multimillion pound bonuses and to the widow - nothing.

  • Comment number 46.

    Fundamentally she express her concerns about a subject a lot of people feel is a problem and this is not a new issue.

    For the prime minster to use the excuse of I was helping the broadcasters and my comments were private is not acceptable.

    Now we are seeing the bully, who will say anything in public to get elected but behind closed doors has his own agenda (Tony Blair comes to mind).

    A difficult and tiring time he may be having, but as prime minster surely he is used to the stress. Simply no excuse and he should say so.....

  • Comment number 47.

    Oh dear. Who can honestly defend Gordie after that? And they say he wasn't a bully when he was chancellor. If you still believe that, why did the Treasury have the greatest turn over of staff, ever, during his tenure? Please, please, please no one say he's got us through the recession. He was the main cause, if he wasn't what on earth is Darling still doing in office? That would make Darling the worst Chancellor EVER! They inherited the country in a decent financial state, its like we've had some druggy come to live with us, sponge off us, max our credit cards and remortgage the house.

  • Comment number 48.

    She is bigoted for being concerned about immigration ?

    These are clearly Gordon's real thoughts ... as usual Labour know best and insult anyone who disagrees with them.

  • Comment number 49.

    Brown' comments may have determined the election. They reveal the gap between the politicians and the media including the BBC, on the one hand, and ordinary voters on the other. Those who have expressed concern with immigration, who have question the wisdom of the multiculturalist experiment, have been wrongly branded as racists and bigots. Ordinary people who have expressed concern with immigration who see injustice in the way preference has been given to certain ethnic and religious groups (we cannot even name them without accusations from the PC brigade) have been given pariah status. In that context Brown's remarks should not be seen as a personal defect; they are indicative of the shared views of politicians and the media.But he will pay the penalty come the election.

  • Comment number 50.

    I shall take the mature option here first of all "Haha ha haha".

    Now thats out the way, everyone has private thoughts that they would rather wasn't shared with the country, and Gordons entitled to think those and say those thoughts. This does show though a humongous lack of foresight on his part that he didn't check for first the microphone and second the fact that he was being filmed. And this I think shows a lot more than most people have commented so far, that he isn't checking the basics precautions he should be.

    It also points out that Labour and inparticularly Brown have zero clue how a large percentage of the population feel regarding immigration and the very realy concern it is to them.

    I guarantee that all politicians have had this moment themselves though, Brown simply got caught out worse than most.

  • Comment number 51.

    Unfortunate, yes. But pehaps a rare occasion of one of the leaders venting an honest opinion.

  • Comment number 52.


    Could just end any slim chance labour had, is this what he does when voters ask him honest questions? Nice to them in person, and belittles them in private.

  • Comment number 53.


  • Comment number 54.

    Despite the epic fail of announcing his opinion to the world, looking at the quote in this article, he may well have been bang on the money.
    I would appreciate a candidate who can openly call out a member of the public for bigotry, if that's what they're guilty of.

  • Comment number 55.

    I think your reporting of this is an absolute outrage. There's not a single person in the country who works with the public who hasn't expressed their frustration after a difficult encounter with a client in a similar way. That doesn't make them unfit to do their job or arrogant or even clumsy; it is entirely normal, human behaviour to need to do so and to do so to one's trusted colleagues or friends. Has Nick Robinson never made a similar remark about a colleague, interviewee or passing glory hunter who's waved at the camera whilst he's out and about reporting? I very much doubt it.
    You really have stooped to new lows on this one.

  • Comment number 56.

    It is typical of the paucity of political debate that Brown is more likely to lose based on a momentary lapse, a mere rude remark not even made to the woman, than on the mediocre soundbite mouthings that pass for 'policy' in his campaign.

  • Comment number 57.

    What a silly man, allowing Sky News to put a radio-mic on you!
    It is a very careless gaff, but I'm disappointed that the press have not shown the original video of the interview, so we can judge for ourselves. Presumably this is embargoed by Sky News.

  • Comment number 58.

    I want Labour to win but I don't want Gordon Brown to win. That's the dilemma many voters face - especially when his off-guard moments prove him to be diametrically opposite to what he tries to portray in public. Labour should have ditched this liability of a man a long time ago. They will reap what they have sown.

  • Comment number 59.

    could we have some sense of proportion here? which of us has not said something ( true or not... and that's up for debate ) which if it had been publicy broadcast would certainly have embarrassed us and possibly done us harm. and surely he should have known he was being filmed? is the bbc now as bad as sky news who have their own agenda here and are manipulating this into hype in a way that is totally nauseating.

  • Comment number 60.

    Isn't it obvious?

    The guy lost contact with the real people and how we "little folk" think, or act, or live, a few decades ago.

    When he drifted into that Westminster wasteland where the "Really Important People" make grand decisions and pass legislation on "our behalf".

    Listened to Brown today, saying he was rather upset that MPs had taken advantage of the odd rules on expenses. This was the guy who claimed for repainting (or was it weatherproofing) a garden house. What has that to do with performing duties as an MP?

    The bloke that claimed for cleaning services in a flat in London he didn't use, because he lived at No 11, while we paid for a place in his constituency in Scotland?

    The bloke who decided to attack private pension schemes. Who introduced (Hurray) then withdrew (BOOOOOOOO) the 10% tax break.

    Man's an idiot. I'm just hoping that his wife will work out how to lead him around the house, once the weight of the economic legacy he left behind begins to dawn on him.

    Problem is that it's hard to define an intellectual.

    Maybe some bloke/blokess who gained a PhD. Maybe somebody who is so far removed from current reality that their ideals / ideas can only work a few generations down the line.

    I tend to prefer people who can make things work in a cost-effective way.

    That's not anti-Vision of any political spectrum, just anti wasting money.

    The strange thing is lots of little people have to manage the sometimes rediculous legislation and taxation regimes that the "Clever People" like Brown believe is "good for us".

    This is a totally a-political post.

    Anybody out there knows the 3,000 new offences we (as a compliant electorate) have apperently agreed to?

    Check your MPs. I've tried.

  • Comment number 61.

    I'm sorry for Mrs Duffy. She was willing and nice. She only had a couple of questions which the PM should have been prepared and willing to answer without a problem.

    He was smarmy with her as he brushed off her questions and turned it round into a photoop of 'good family' before he waved goodbye and got into his car.

    He showed himself to be what he really is. That is the proof that the electorate wanted of what many had suspected. A nasty piece of work.

    There should be an extra-ordinary meeting of the parliamentary labour party and he should get his P45 tonight.

    A massive apology from the Labour Party Chairman delivered in person to Mrs Duffy should follow. She intended to support. She was orally slain by a callous man who should know better. Where's his moral compass now?

  • Comment number 62.

    I wonder how Nick is going to put a favourable slant on today's Labour party gaffe?

  • Comment number 63.

    Please please can you guys resist the temptation to treat the whole thing as a reality show. I don't need to see hours and hours of Mrs D. on screen to realise that immigration is a serious and sensitive issue.

  • Comment number 64.


    For the next leader's debate......either David or Nick....go on...I dare you.....

    "people have legitimate concerns and we shouldn't call them bigoted just for expressing them"

    ho-ho-ho-ha-ha-ha Gordon's head will pop.

  • Comment number 65.

    His "Gaffe" mearly confirms what he thinks about white working class voters. I sure hope there was no mobile phones or other such objects for him to throw at his aides.

  • Comment number 66.

    So Gordon Brown wants us to believe that what he says in public in front of a camera is the truth and not what he says in the, as he thought, privacy of his car.

    To expect the electorate to believe that is as much an insult to the electorate as a whole as his original insults to the poor woman in Rochdale.

  • Comment number 67.

    Anyone notice how the newlabour apologists take an awful long time to get the official party line on eveyhting this joker does?

    The line on this one is ..'Gordon, get your coat'

    Taxi for Brown!

  • Comment number 68.

    Yesterday David Cameron was involved with a voter who argued with him about education (Whether it was a Lib-Dem plant or co-incidence is not established - but it seems crass to attack someone who lost their own disabled child about choices for children with disabilities) and performed pretty well. (Headline on R5 'David Cameron Attacked by member of public on Education')

    If you are a politician then you have to engage with the public. The 'court of public opinion' demands it. You cannot just move from one stage-managed performance under a captive audience to another. In this Mr Brown has failed.

  • Comment number 69.

    Would be nice if the BBC could actually post the comments that Ms Duffy made to Mr Brown when they spoke. This story will surely become a massive media-fest with little attention paid to context. I'm no fan of Brown, but this just seems like another personal character assassination without basis in politics (which is surely what elections are actually about?).

    Assumning the media runs with the story for the next week (which it likely will), for sure this is a disaster for Labour, and will probably see them drop to their lowest levels yet in the polls.

  • Comment number 70.

    Has Mr. Brown apologised to Sue Nye yet?

  • Comment number 71.

    bigots beget bygones!

  • Comment number 72.

    Have any of the people who have commented actually watched and listened to the whole interview?

    Mrs Duffy was aggresive and was very keen to make her points but not so keen to listen to the answers despite claiming to be a Labour supporter.

    At least the Eastern Europeans she commented about are willing to work hard to make something of themselves. Studies have also shown that the majority of these people eventually return to their respective countries.

    Regardless of the PM's comment about Mrs Duffy (OK he shouldn't have said it) my concern is why was the microphone left on. Is this a deliberate ploy by the media to catch out politicians in private moments.

    No doubt this will run and run - David and Nick beware!!

  • Comment number 73.

    What a perfect gaffe - just shows you what Gordon thinks of anyone who questions him. I think its hilarious - it shows Gordon for what he really is.

  • Comment number 74.

    I live in Massachusetts and wish we could have honest politicians. Perhaps the problem is not Gordon Brown but societies willingness to discredit this accidentally recorded comment as a gaffe. Have we considered this woman may possibly be a bigot and Gordon Brown isn't? I too have very strong feelings about bigoted people.

  • Comment number 75.


    Gordon Brown has nothing but contempt for everyone.
    This was his own core vote that he considers to be a bigot.

    his first encounter with real voter and Train Crash.

    If you vote for this man you will deserve all the we will have to endure.

    He needs to go

  • Comment number 76.

    I yield to no-one in my disdain for people who whine about immigration, but one of the first rules of public life is to take it for granted that all microphones are switched on unless you have personally switched them off.

  • Comment number 77.

    Simply a grotesque bully and control freak.

  • Comment number 78.

    It is sad and shameful that Mr Brown apologised for his comment. He actually won my sympathy vote for his comment which is otherwise rarely the case. As a matter of fact, Ms Duffy (what a telling name), expressed a very narrow-minded view of her little bigoted world. This is real-world Little Britain!

    We all have to accept that in a free market economy there will be a free flow of goods, services and labour. Ms Duffy complains that she is living in a 'third world country'. What does she mean by this? Has she ever been to a so-called 'third world country'.

    It is the alternative to a free market economy with the borders shut to everything and everyone that would reduce Britain's existence to an agricultural subsistence level akin to a third world country. Most money that is flowing into Britain comes from foreigners and foreign countries and it is foreigners who provide services and labour just as British people provide services and goods to other countries.

  • Comment number 79.

    This looks like the 'moment' commentators have been waiting for, when someone stumbles badly and in this case...falls. If this is what he thinks of his own supporters, what must he think of the rest of us!
    RIP New Labour.

  • Comment number 80.

    It's a shame politicians aren't allowed to challenge the Daily Mail/Sun consensus on immigration in public these days

  • Comment number 81.

    Would this be a good time to introduce Performance Targets for members of Parliament?

  • Comment number 82.

    " 8. At 2:10pm on 28 Apr 2010, Janis wrote:
    Why has a PRIVATE conversation been blown up to make headline news? The woman could well have been a bigot, but the media hype is out of all proportion and completely unjustified. Gordon still has my vote - he's only human after all and has been very much maligned by the media."

    It seems Brown can do no wrong in your book? What does he have to do to lose your vote? Default the country?

  • Comment number 83.

    Gordon Brown again shows that he struggles with any kind of criticism.
    The points she made were valid enough and given how grim it is in Rochdale I think she was right to make them. Immigration has been mismanaged for 13 years and the the default left wing position of "you are a bigot, you are a racist" if you dare criticise it really backfired on him today.

    Brown's character is again a worry:
    1. Inability to take blame, it was his aides fault, the pensioners fault, the medias fault for making him wear the microphone.
    2. It was an beginner type mistake: you don't talk when you are miked up!

    The brutal truth is that Brown would never have been a successful opposition leader like a Blair or a Harold Wilson. He hasn't got the multi-faceted skills needed. His own personal ambition made him force Blair our and it will cost Labour. Blair would have wiped the floor in the debates against two opposition leaders who have obviously modelled themselves on him. As it is, Brown needs to do all he can to salvage what he can from this mess. Three words, "I was wrong" might be a start.

  • Comment number 84.

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

  • Comment number 85.

    The gaffe(s) couldn't have been better timed or executed!

    Jeremy Vine's filmed radio interview was excellent!

    Brown was hung, drawn and quartered!! And so thoroughly deserved!

    I'm looking forward to the funeral on May 7th!

  • Comment number 86.

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

  • Comment number 87.

    8. Janis wrote:

    "Why has a PRIVATE conversation been blown up to make headline news?"

    Because it shows that Brown is a snivelling hypocrite, that's why!

  • Comment number 88.

    Why has no one shown what was said during the encounter, but only focus on what was said after? Weren't there cameras recording everything at every moment?

  • Comment number 89.

    Even now there still appear to be people who would actually vote for this totally inept individual. Why?

    Even without this latest gaffe and their pathetic attempts to spin their inadequacies they were a shambles!

    Whoever leaves the building last please turn out the lights!

  • Comment number 90.

    "7. At 2:10pm on 28 Apr 2010, Joshua wrote:
    The mic that caught these comments was placed on behalf of Rupert Murdoch by Sky News. A staunch supporter of the Conservatives."

    That's about as pathetic a defence as you are ever likely to see.

    Bit like saying we need to find out who made the knives that the Yorkshire Ripper used.

  • Comment number 91.

    After my initial reaction to this story of "He said what...ha ha ha!" I calmed myself and thought this is actually quite a sad reality. Fair enough he said it in 'private' but that is not excuse enough;

    People felt outraged after the expenses scandal because they thought politicians were taking them for a ride and were essentially dishonest. This sort of quote reinforces the belief that politicians will say one thing to your face, but something else behind your back and can’t be trusted.

  • Comment number 92.

    For me the worst part of it is Brown's reaction to all this. First, when challenged by Jeremy Vine. First he more or less denied that he had said anything wrong. Then, after he had heard what he had said again, he said "if" he had said anything offensive he was sorry. This is hardly a man who is admitting that he's in the wrong!
    Prudence was shot with the banks going under, now Integrity and Humility have been shown to be nothing more than hot air.
    Even though we are less than 10 days from the election it does seem like the best thing that he could do for Labour would be to stand down as leader. As things stand the anti-Brown sentiment is so strong that it alone will lose Labour their majority!

  • Comment number 93.

    To be fair to Gordon Brown (who I'm not a fan of by the way), its entirely reasonable to describe someone as bigoted if they single out certain national/ethnic groups and imply that they should be associated with the third world.

  • Comment number 94.

    Oh Gordon - what have you done?

  • Comment number 95.

    Those few words say a lot about Browns way of thinking and arrogance. Not only on the matter of immigration but on meeting the electorate in general.

    It is obvious he looks upon voters as an annoyance which get in the way of him imposing his views on the rest of the country.

    Hopefully it will show many of those slavish labour voters that the socialist party their fathers voted for ceased to exist many years ago and it is time to move on.

  • Comment number 96.

    At last! Why is it that if this behavior was well known amongst his colleagues and close followers that he was not 'outed' earlier?

    Thank goodness the truth is now in the public domain. It is truly over for Brown and also for the spineless labour cabinet that sat on their hands and said nothing.

    I do not want to be represented by him anytime, any place, anywhere.

  • Comment number 97.

    This is yet another graphic illustration of the contempt in which the mainstream political class hold ordinary white working class people in the North of England, particularly the elderly. Mrs Duffy said nothing that was either racist or offensive and yet she was immediately labelled a bigot because she dared to say that she was concerned about the impact of EU immigration. Is it any wonder that extremist parties are doing so well in this region? It is unbelievable that the Lab/Con/Lib politicians still don't get it!

  • Comment number 98.

    Immigration really does need to be dealt with, not in the savage, almost inhumane way advocated by some right wing newspapers like the Daily Mail, but there needs to be much greater control of UK borders, attempts to stop the free movement of economic migrants from the EU, and protection for local businesses and companies from unfair foreign competition, especially from Eastern Europe and China. This competition results in higher unemployment especially for white working class people in the less affluent areas of the UK, and as well gives companies incentives to relocate their operations away from the UK.

    Once these basic, simple policies are implemented will the white working class start to regain their faith in Labour. We do need immigration control, not because the white working class in general feel any resentment towards immigrants themselves (who have contributed a lot to the country) but the policy of immigration, which has been too laissez faire, too unregulated, leading to mass immigration, a depression on the wages in the labour market, excessive competition for scarce jobs, and in the globalised market, made employment extremely uncertain because companies can easily jump ship to China for cheap labour.

    Any issue is foreign ownership of our companies. Foreign ownership is extremely dangerous, as Kraft's takeover of Cadbury has shown. There needs to be regulation or legislation put up that ensures that some businesses remain British, and are protected from aggressive takeovers that will decimate the local economy and lead to more of our industries and wealth in the hands of foreigners. I am not saying this for nationalistic purposes, but for economic reasons.

    Yes, Gordon Brown shouldn't have said what he did, but hopefully this allows us to have a grown up honest discussion about immigration, without it being taken off topic by right wing newspapers or hand wringing guilty middle class elites who feel it is racist to even bring up immigration. Moreover, what needs to be stressed is that opposition to mass immigration is a left wing policy, while the right wing like mass immigration, because it fits their neoliberal agenda, since businesses are able to employ cheap labour, therefore increasing their profits, and the increased competition will drive wages down, adversely affected the social and economic conditions of the working class, who don't have a voice anymore due to the destruction of unions, who in the past could at least provide a countervailing force to monopoly businesses.

    So it is no surprise that the right wing commentators like Norman Tebitt and organisations like the CBI are in favour of mass immigration, because it suits their anti-working class agenda. What the right wing are actually against are the social effects of immigration, like multiculturalism, ethic and cultural diversity, etc. The white working class people do not oppose the positive social effects of immigration, and I do believe that when some newspapers talk about immigrants eroding British values and destroying the "British way of life" it is a bigoted remark, and displays a nasty streak. However, it is not racist to talk about negative economic consequences of mass immigration that the white working class adult has suffered due to this free market mass immigration policy. It has to be stopped, not because of any xenophobic reasons at all, but because the white working class are being economically squeezed and need a reprieve from it.

  • Comment number 99.

    If the person he had been talking to had been giving bigoted views then Gordon Brown had every right to say so. We need mpore people to challenge bogotry and small mindedness. So "Good for Gordon" I say.

  • Comment number 100.

    Just confirms the stories about him that have leaked out over the years - whatever he thought about Mrs Duffy if he is standing for the highest office he should never even think this way never mind express himself in these terms.
    Completely unsuited to office (remember the leakes that colleagues thought him temprementally unsuited) so should be voted out - as indeed so should the whole rotten crew around him who have condoned his behaviour and indeed have the same attitudes to the electorate themselves.
    May 6th result Con 45% LD 30% Labour 15% Others 10% - now won't that be good!


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