Comment at end
28th April 2010
Gordon Brown calls Labour supporter Gillian Duffy a bigot (47 seconds)
Gordon Brown PM, was overheard getting back into his car making rude comments about a Labour voter in Rochdale, Gillian Duffy, to whom he had been talking about immigration and other election promises.
He got back into his car after the exchange and was heard calling her a bigoted woman and reflected that the discussion had been a disaster.
Breathless TV Crews Catch-Up With Gillian Duffy Whom Gordon Brown Called ‘Bigoted’ (Sky News video, 4 mins 10 secs)
At around 2:50 – asked about his character Gillian Duffy said –
“His character on TV, well he hasn’t really enthralled me with his speeches, but I like Blair, I like Tony Blair.”
oberonhouston — 28 April 2010 — Gordon Brown calls granny ‘bigoted’ after talking to him in Rochdale. TV crews catch-up with 66-year-old Gillian Duffy and tell her what he said about her.
THE FOOT IN MOUTH PRIME MINISTER
No matter which way you look at it, or try to explain it or work it out, this is a biggie.
My first question: Why didn’t anyone in Gordon Brown’s campaign team make sure that he ALWAYS, ALWAYS, ALWAYS had his own microphone? Tony Blair always did, as long ago as 1997! They’re cheap as chips these days.
My second question: Why did Mr Brown think that his chat with this voter was “disastrous”. It actually was pretty good, and she told the broadcast journalist on hand that he had answered her questions to her satisfaction and that she would be voting Labour, as she had always done previously. But that was before the present PM forgot to remember he still had a Sky News mic on.
My third question: Why did Mr Brown blame others for setting this up? (Sue Nye, on this occasion, his trusted aide of 20 years)
My fourth question: Is anyone who raises the question of east European immigration automatically a “bigot”, Mr Brown?
My fifth question: Are you penitent because you’ve been found out?
Gordon Brown has said he is “mortified” after being caught on microphone describing a voter he had just spoken to in Rochdale as a “bigoted woman”.
Gillian Duffy, 65, had challenged him on issues including immigration.
As he got into his car, he was still wearing a broadcast microphone and was heard to say “that was a disaster”.
Mr Brown later spent more than half an hour at Mrs Duffy’s house, apologising to her before telling waiting reporters he had misunderstood what she had said.
He said: “If you like, I’m a penitent sinner. Sometimes you say things you don’t mean to say, sometimes you say things by mistake and sometimes when you say things you’ll want to correct them very quickly.
“I wanted to come here and say to Gillian that I was sorry, I had made a mistake, but also to say I understood the concerns she was bringing to me and I had simply misunderstood some of the words she had used.”
He had already phoned Mrs Duffy to apologise after the tape was played to him during a BBC Radio 2 interview.
After listening to the recording, with his forehead resting on his hand, he said: “I do apologise if I’ve said anything that has been hurtful.”
The comments were made after the conversation with Mrs Duffy which ended with him complimenting her and her family.
As he went to get into his car, Mr Brown told her: “Very nice to meet you, very nice to meet you.”
But off camera, and not realising he still had a Sky News microphone pinned to his shirt, he was heard to tell an aide: “That was a disaster – they should never have put me with that woman. Whose idea was that? It’s just ridiculous…”
‘It’s going to be tax, tax, tax’
Asked what she had said, he is heard to reply: “Ugh everything! She’s just a sort of bigoted woman that said she used to be Labour. I mean it’s just ridiculous. I don’t know why Sue brought her up towards me.”
Mrs Duffy said after hearing of Mr Brown’s comments: “I’m very upset. He’s an educated person. Why has he come out with words like that?
“He’s supposed to be leading the country and he’s calling an ordinary woman who’s come up and asked questions that most people would ask him… It’s going to be tax, tax, tax for another 20 years to get out of this national debt, and he’s calling me a bigot.”
Mrs Duffy, a widow who has a daughter and two grandchildren, said she used to work with disabled children for Rochdale council before she retired.
She had earlier told reporters she was a lifelong Labour voter and described Mr Brown as being “very nice”.
BBC political editor Nick Robinson said it was a disaster for the prime minister because it showed the gap between his public face and private face.
“For those of us who have known Gordon Brown for many years, what we have seen is no huge surprise. He has got better and better at handling himself in public, but quite often he flares up in private, expresses frustration,” he said.
Nick Robinson added that the irony was that if his comments had not been picked up, it would have been a lively election exchange which would have been seen to do him credit.
Speaking on Radio 2’s Jeremy Vine show, Mr Brown said: “Of course I apologise if I’ve said anything that’s been offensive and I would never put myself in a position where I would want to say anything like that about a woman I’d met.
“I blame myself for what is done, but you’ve got to remember that this was me being helpful to the broadcasters, with my microphone on, rushing into the car because I had to get to another appointment and they have chosen to play my private conversation. These things can happen, I apologise profusely to the lady concerned.”
Mr Brown later telephoned Mrs Duffy to personally apologise for the comments, telling her he was very sorry and said she “is a good woman”.
When asked did this in any way make up for the comments she said “no – absolutely not”.
A spokesman for the prime minister said: “Mr Brown has apologised to Mrs Duffy personally by phone. He does not think that she is bigoted. He was letting off steam in the car after a difficult conversation.
“But this is exactly the sort of conversation that is important in an election campaign and which he will continue to have with voters.”
The Conservatives said Mr Brown’s comments spoke for themselves.
Shadow chancellor George Osborne said: “That’s the thing about general elections, they do reveal the truth about people.”