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Bigotgate front pages Gordon Brown

Today's
front pages are every bit the disaster for Gordon Brown and Labour that
you would expect the day after he was found to have described a
65-year-old Labour-voting widow as "bigoted".

And this morning
it seems appropriate to reflect briefly on a speech Gordon Brown made
just seven weeks ago – about the choice facing the country at the
general election. As the Scotsman reported on 11th March:

"In
a major speech in the City, the Prime Minister set out a clear message
that the election would centre on his personal character, integrity and
ability to steer the UK through the "stormy waters of the economic
crisis".

"In an election set to be dominated by the
first television debates of the major party leaders, Mr Brown hopes
that his experience and actions will win the day against the untested
David Cameron."

Brown's record on the economy
will come under scrutiny from David Cameron at tonight's leader's
debate, and we'll be covering that on ConHome later in the day. But for
now, if Brown wants to be judged on his personal character, integrity
and actions as unwittingly put on public display yesterday, I can do
little but conclude that he is doomed.

The Prime Minister said himself in that speech in March:

"It
is for other people to judge but I believe that character is not about
telling people what they want to hear but about telling them what they
need to know… For better or for worse, with me what you see is what
you get."

And therein lies the problem for Brown. His unguarded outburst about Mrs Duffy demonstrated that what you see is most certainly not what you get.

I blogged yesterday afternoon
that the significance of the incident was that it put on public display
his duplicity, his tendency to blame others when things go wrong and
the contempt which he evidently has for millions of voters.

Trevor Kavanagh in The Sun
this morning agrees that the veneer came down and the Prime Minister
has inadvertently shown his true colours to the wider public:

"This
was the authentic Gordon Brown – thin-skinned, paranoid and perpetually
on the hunt for someone else to blame. This is the Chancellor who made
life hell for Tony Blair and every political friend or foe who stepped
in his path. It is the phone-throwing, pen-stabbing raging bull
disturbingly portrayed in Andrew Rawnsley's prophetic book The End of
the Party."

As Rawnsley himself writes in today's Guardian:

"It
will be rightly taken as evidence of the less attractive dimensions of
his personality. Note that it happens because he stresses over the
trivial and becomes infuriated by anything or anybody that disturbs his
idea of himself as a man in iron control. Mrs Duffy was far from the
most tricky customer ever to confront a politician. In fact, he dealt
with the initial encounter reasonably well. She even said she was going
to vote Labour. Calling it "a disaster" was an over-reaction to a
fairly humdrum moment on the campaign trail. We see also a glimpse of
Brown's tendency to instantly assign fault for a setback to someone
else."

And I can sum up the incident no better than Rawnsley, who concludes:

"Brown's problem is that this episode shows him acting not out of character, but entirely in it."

Jonathan Isaby

67 comments for: If this election is about character, Gordon Brown’s actions yesterday showed that he is doomed

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