In a highly public and the most embarrassing way, Gordon Brown’s slip has ended up spreading around the globe faster than a sovereign debt crisis.
A meeting with a staunch Labour supporting pensioner and grandmother Gillian Duffy in Rochdale, which should have been a cosy chat to bolster the PM’s image, turned anything but after she mentioned the dreaded I-word, immigration. He then, after calling her a ‘good woman’ went off to his car and called her a bigot.
The day after a Labourite think tank said that those who were concerned about mass immigration into the UK had been branded as “nasty, stupid and backward”, Gordon effectively proved them right. Some polls put the immigration issue at second behind the current state of the economy, although many would say that the two may go hand in hand as, when there is a downturn in the economy, scapegoats are needed.
That Gordon Brown felt the need to tear up his tight canvassing timetable and return for a 40 minute grovelling session in Gillian Duffy’s home can be interpreted as the signs of a failing campaign or the strength of a man who knows when to apologise and how to do it in style. Whatever the view it is apparent it was an episode he could well have done without. After a public apology and calling himself a 'penitent sinner' it looks like Gordon Brown's few seconds of accidental public airing may have put some very large and permanent skids under his election hopes. It nay also have reduced the election nack down to a two horse race, with Gordon riding a three legged nag at the back of the field.
And it all came about because of a stray microphone that one of his aides should have ensured was removed immediately it was no longer needed. Well, he might have created some more temp jobs, election campaign microphone monitors for party leaders.
The thing is we are all human and have our imperfections. Politicians do like to exploit this. Just prior to the announcement of the general election, party leaders’ wives were out in force amongst the press eager to tell us all of their partners’ weaknesses. But this of course is just camera-candy. To get a true picture of a person’s weaknesses we need events such as 'Gordon’s Gaffe'.
Maybe what we need is for all major politicians to be required to wear microphones for 24 hours a day throughout the campaign. Then we might get to find out what they all really think.