When Humphrys referred to Poles stealing jobs from British workers, Mandelson snapped and accused him of xenophobia. At which point, Humphrys asked him what he would call Gordon Brown’s ‘British jobs for British workers’ slogans.
This is the problem the government finds itself in. Whether it is playing defence, making the principled argument for the free movement of people, or going on offence, questioning the strikers’ motivations, it will have the Prime Minister’s words throws back in its face. Brown by using this cheap, populist phrase has conceded—and made respectable—the strikers’ essential point.