Robert Hampton

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29th April 2010

Britain’s Bigot Talent

Whatever the outcome of the election, surely one of the defining images of the campaign will be the image of Gordon Brown sitting in the Radio 2 studio, listening to the playback of his “bigot” comment and looking, as the Guardian put it, utterly wretched. It just seems like a metaphor for Labour’s election campaign generally: hopeless, miserable and on the verge of giving up.

There was an even better image from the day, though, and it was the reaction of Gillian Duffy when she was told what the Prime Minister had said about her behind her back:

Screengrab from BBC News

Is Gillian Duffy a bigot? On balance, no. She was expressing concerns a lot of people have about immigration. I don’t agree with her, but the correct way to engage with people on the subject is through rational, reasoned debate, not name-calling.

Should Gordon Brown be vilified the way he has for a thoughtless comment uttered in the heat of the moment? No. Has the press reaction been predictably over the top? Yes. Will this change the way people vote? Probably not as much as you think: a new poll says half of the electorate don’t think worse of Brown after the incident. (this poll was commissioned by the Sun but the result not published by them — fancy that!)

The third debate starts on the telly soon. I fully expect David Cameron to attempt a lame gag about the incident.

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