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Picture 15
The rolling news media are not going to drop the story about Gordon
Brown calling a Rochdale voter, Gillian Duffy, "bigoted"
, and the front pages
tomorrow are liable to be devastating for Labour.

Here are my thoughts on the incident and what it tells us about the man seeking to be elected Prime Minister by the British people for the first time.

Brown's contempt for voters
Mrs Duffy had concerns about a number of issues which echo those of millions of ordinary people in the country. That Brown showed such contempt for her suggests that he holds millions of the rest of the electorate in contempt as well.

Brown's duplicity
It showed Brown up as a duplicitous person, saying one thing in public and another in private. This is a point that Tory Rascal's poster picks up: Brown said she came from a good family and how lovely it was to meet her a few seconds before condemning her as bigoted in private. If he meets any other ordinary voters in the remaining week of the campaign, will they be able to believe his small talk?

Brown's tendency to blame others
What was striking was that in his remarks caught on the microphone he sought to blame one of his assistants for allowing him to meet Mrs Duffy in the first place; then in his Jeremy Vine interview afterwards, he tried to shift the blame onto the media for having him wear the microphone in the first place, for not letting him answer a question and then for broadcasting the private conversation. The media have since said been quoted as saying that Brown's aides asked for him to wear the microphone as the big boom microphones are a distraction. Meanwhile, watching the video again, I cannot see how he was stopped from answering any of the questions.

Brown's lack of media savvy
I thought that the John Major infamous "bastards" interview with Michael Brunson had been instructive to any politician about the need to be wary when wearing a microphone. I noted the other evening when watching the coverage of the post-debate spin room that David Miliband was holding his hand over the microphone on his jacket to ensure that his private conversation with a fellow Labour insider was not picked up.

Gordon Brown just being out of touch
As much as anything, I found it incredibly revealing that Brown first remark on getting into the car was that the encounter with Mrs Duffy was "a disaster". To be frank, it wasn't. She aired a few concerns, but it ended on a positive and consensual note. This was no Sharon Storer moment (the woman confronted by Blair in 2001 outside a Birmingham hospital) – until, ironically, Brown turned it into one by his unguarded reaction to it. That Brown thought it a disaster suggests he is even more on edge and living in a parallel universe than I thought.

Jonathan Isaby

78 comments for: Brown is duplicitous, contemptuous of the public and always seeking to blame others for his mistakes – what the Gillian Duffy incident tells us

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