Well, the media had some fun today, didn't they. And I don't begrudge them that - the poor sods are probably exhausted after talking about a "hung" parliament for two weeks.
Gillian Duffy (any relative of Stephen "Tin Tin"?) expressed a worry about the number of Eastern Europeans in her local area, was assuaged carefully by Gordon, who then LEFT THE FUCKING MIKE ON in his car and said something to his aide Sue Nye along the lines of "why are you letting me meet dreadful people like that bigoted woman?"
Get with the programme, son! This is pretty much your standard Sun/Mail reader shtick. I used to hear FAR worse than that on the train into Liverpool St every day - from the so called "professional classes".
I don't think Gillian Duffy is a bigot. As John Harris points out in the Guardian, this is the kind of person who got left behind by New Labour. No-one bothered to tell her why Rochdale was suddenly populated by hundreds of Eastern Europeans; what the benefits of the EU single labour market were, or what free movement of labour was actually about. Instead, she asks questions and gets called a bigot - behind her back, when Gordon Brown thinks no-one is listening.
Some people I respect a lot have blamed the Murdoch press for the whole thing - but that's letting Brown off the hook too easily. In the 24-hour news cycle, you never drop your guard during a campaign like this. That much should be fucking obvious to anybody contemplating political office from district council level upwards. And if you can't handle that you CERTAINLY shouldn't be running for Prime Minister. Tony Blair, whatever his faults, understood this. For sure Blair got caught out one time with George Bush when the mike was left on - any of you kids remember "Yo Blair?" but that was Bush's fault, not Blair's. I don't believe Blair would have made a schoolboy error like this during a campaign.
Once again this shows that Brown is NOT comfortable in this role - while it's still entirely possible that Labour will emerge as the largest party from this shambles it's really painful to watch. Can we really go through another 5 years of this guy? Ripley, I've heard enough of this shit, and I'm asking you to pull the plug.
In an election defined by the expenses scandal, in the wake of which public opinion of their elected representatives has hit an all time low, is it really sensible to be treating voters - of any persuasion - with this kind of contempt?
Oddly enough, because the Greek debt crisis - which, paradoxically, might HELP Labour the same way the Lehman thing did 18 months ago - has now displaced Bigotgate on the rolling news, Brown has got off much more lightly than he might have done otherwise. We'll have to wait to see whether this has precipitated any poll shift. My guess is it will have done something because the polls are so volatile, any damn thing can shift them.