Fraser Nelson

Ten reasons why this is a catastrophe for Brown and Labour

Ten reasons why this is a catastrophe for Brown and Labour
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Every politician will be thinking "there but for the grace of God..." today - but the Gillian Duffy incident is not just a gaffe. It is bad for Gordon Brown and Labour on very many levels. Here are ten of them.


1. The image of the Politburo pulling away in the Jag, slagging off the proles. This confirms the idea of an elite, who sneer at voters in private but try to charm them in public. And the idea that politicians (of all parties) say one thing on camera, and another when they think no one is listening.

2. The is not just a gaffe, but the PM on tape insulting the voters. It's the worst thing you can do in an election campaign (ie Obama¹s "cling to guns and religion" remark). Far worse than if Brown were, say, caught swearing, Nixon-style. That you could put down to stress. This about his attitude to people like pensioners in Rochdale.

3. The idea that you can't talk about immigration. Mrs Duffy told Brown that you can't talk about immigrants, and then broke off her sentence. Result? Brown calls her a "bigot" for even raising the topic.

4. He was insulting Labour¹s core vote... She finished by congratulating him on local schools. She was Labour. When she heard about his insult, she decided not to vote (rather than switch to the Tories). Labour needs to energise its base, not insult them. A charity worker, a widow, a pensioner: she should be Brown's pin-up.

5. ...and insulting pensioners. Mrs Duffy's concern about her grandchildren ­and the demographic change she has seen in her lifetime ­will be shared by millions. And the people who are the most likely to vote, too.

6. Brown exposes his temper. Instantly seeking to blame someone plays up to the "bully" image - which is damaging enough. It's now that much easier to believe the stories of his hurling Nokias and secretaries around the room.

7. Exposes what a shambles the Labour campaign is. Blair used Labour Party microphones in 1997. In 2001, when he did walkabout, I remember being given headphones (all journalists were) so we could hear him and take notes. But no media company owned the mike. As the Fink says, this was a shambles. Whoever Brown was with in the car did the Tories a huge service by not switching off the mike.

8. Brown tried to bluff his way out of it claiming he was angry with himself, and using phrases like 'if'. There's no 'if' about it. We all heard it. We know exactly what happened. It was a gaffe that will be on the news all around the world tonight. Yet there he was on Jeremy Vine making excuses like: "I would never put myself in a position where I would want to say anything like that." Except he did.

9. This will seal Brown's fate within the party. How did they come to elect a leader who is so bad at elections? Oh, they didn't. The Labour Party allowed themselves to be bullied in 2007 ­ rather than putting their putative new leader through his paces to test his campaigning and communication skills. In James's political column tomorrow, he quotes a Labour MP saying there will be a "Ceausescu moment" if Brown tries to hang on as party leader

10. Comes ahead of tomorrow's leaders' debate on debt and immigration. The two topics that Mrs Duffy raised. Brown will be on the defensive now, and I'd be amazed if Clegg and Cameron don't rub it in. Brown is at his very worst when trying to concoct excuses.