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Daily View: Response to Brown's 'bigot' remark

Clare Spencer | 09:44 UK time, Thursday, 29 April 2010

Gordon Brown in a radio studio listening back to his own commentCommentators discuss Gordon Brown's description of a voter as a "bigoted woman".

Benedict Brogan says in the Telegraph that the truth is out about Gordon Brown:

"Still, we continue to clamour for truth on all fronts, even if the politicians refuse to oblige us. They are wise to the dangers. 'I know the truth,' Peter Mandelson said yesterday of his leader, as he tried once again to defend and explain the failings of his protege. But just like Mr Brown, and Mr Cameron, he knows it is sometimes best left unsaid."

Steve Richards asks in the Independent why Gordon Brown made the blunder:

"Elections are based on an illusion that political leaders like and respect every single voter they meet. Voters are allowed to harangue leaders, but never the other way around. In private, no doubt leaders across the world despair of voters that they meet, but they never do so in public. In being recorded unaware by a microphone Brown has smashed the illusion into pieces. The spell is broken. When he meets voters in the future they will wonder what he is really thinking."

In the Daily Mail Stephen Glover judges the moment to be extremely significant:

"Their encounter, and what followed, should be remembered as a kind of watershed in the relationship between those who govern us and the governed... "However he may abase himself, however much he may declare he has been forgiven, he has unwittingly revealed his true self, and there can be no recovery for him after this. If Mrs Duffy is a bigot, I am happy - no, honoured - to be a bigot too, and so all of us should be."

Mike Smithson at the blog Political Betting says Mr Brown may be lucky that today is the final debate day because the media will have to move on:

"Tomorrow will all be about this closing session which will frame the coverage for the final few days. Just reflecting on what happened the shocking thing that Mrs. Duffy highlighted is that virtually all of Brown's contacts during the campaign have been with hand-picked safe people. "What does it say about a Prime Minister and Labour Party leader who cannot be allowed to get near 'ordinary' members of the public?"

Jonathan Freedland suggests in the Guardian how Gordon Brown could survive:

"His best hope is tonight's debate. A bravura performance by him will change the story; a killer line will replace the Duffy footage and be replayed on a loop. But a lacklustre showing will add to the fear that Labour is heading for a calamity - and that Brown himself bears much of the blame."

In the Atlantic Andrew Sullivan explains to an American audience why he thinks the event is important:

"Gillian Duffy is a life-long Labour voter. She doesn't like being called a racist because she worries about immigrants; she's fed up with the welfare state rewarding, as she sees it, the unworthy; she's working class; she's not alone. This is Brown's base. He has essentially attacked his own base in the most condescending two-faced manner possible, on a live microphone, on every broadcast. Imagine if Obama's gaffe about 'clinging to guns and religion' had been uttered by John McCain, about his own base. With a week to go."

Robert Mackey in the New York Times looks for similar moments in the most recent US presidential debate including the "Joe the Plumber" story.

Dan Balz in the Washington Post wonders how this will play out with Tony Blair:

"[N]othing he, his wife, Sarah, or senior Labor Party officials said in the aftermath of the incident could undo the damage of what he said. That's because the comment seemed to summon up every negative characteristic attributed to Brown during his long career in the Labor Party. "He has been described as a bully, as someone given to raging moods of anger, who blames others for his own mistakes, who despite great intellect and enormous power has acted as an insensitive and insecure, a man who brooded constantly at the slights and perceived slights at the hand of his rival, former prime minister Tony Blair."

In the satirical blog The Awl, a blogger called "Balk" gives a view on how the incident played out in the US:

"With little more than a week remaining in The Race to Run Knifecrime Island, British Prime Minister Gordon Brown, whose Labour party is running a disappointing third in the polls, has somehow managed to make things worse after being caught on a live microphone referring to an elderly voter who had asked him a question about immigration as a 'bigoted woman'... Making matters even more fatal for Brown, an interview in which he 'apologized profusely' for the remarks offered perhaps the worst optics of the campaign thus far... Check out his body language as he listens to the playback; this is pretty clearly a beaten man. There's something almost tragic about it. But also funny."

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