Leftist hypocrisy exposed
GORDON Brown prostrated himself as a "penitent sinner" yesterday after a brush with a voter triggered a calamitous chain of events that threatened to derail Labour on the eve of tonight's pivotal TV debate.
The Prime Minister spent an unscheduled 45 minutes inside the terraced house of Gillian Duffy apologising to the Labour-supporting widow for insulting her behind her back.
His muttered description of her as a "bigoted woman", picked up by a microphone as he drove off from their combative but apparently friendly encounter, plunged Labour's high command into its most serious crisis of the campaign.
Instead of pressing the party's record on the economy before tonight's final trial by television, the election machine was reduced to desperate firefighting as Lord Mandelson led a series of cabinet ministers on to the airwaves.
The Business Secretary said that Mr Brown had been wrong to criticise the pensioner, whose mistake, on her way to buy a loaf of bread, had been to buttonhole the Prime Minister over the deficit, immigration and student debts.
A mortified Mr Brown issued six apologies over the next six hours, including one by e-mail to Labour supporters for letting them down. Despite saying sorry to Mrs Duffy over the telephone, he ignored aides and insisted on driving back to Rochdale from Manchester, abandoning his preparation for tonight's third and final leaders' debate, to atone in person for his blunder.
He emerged from her house smiling fixedly, saying that he had misunderstood her earlier words. But a more telling image showed him in a Manchester radio studio earlier, head in hands, the full horror of the episode dawning as he listened to a tape of his remarks.
The ghastly unfolding seemed unlikely when the pair parted on apparently good terms after a five-minute conversation in the street. Mr Brown told Mrs Duffy that it had been "very good" to meet her and she told journalists that she had found him "nice" and that he had won her vote.
But within seconds Mr Brown could be heard - courtesy of a Sky News microphone that he had worn for his walkabout - declaring their meeting a "disaster", blaming aides for putting him in such a position, and describing Mrs Duffy as "a sort of bigoted woman". He concluded, days into a new campaigning style in which he meets more real people: "It's just ridiculous."
His reaction was apparently sparked by a comment on immigrants, when she said: "All these Eastern Europeans what are coming in, where are they flocking from?"
Posted by John Ray (M.A.; Ph.D.). For a daily critique of Leftist activities, see DISSECTING LEFTISM. To keep up with attacks on free speech see TONGUE-TIED. Also, don't forget your daily roundup of pro-environment but anti-Greenie news and commentary at GREENIE WATCH . Email me here