Well, you can’t say you weren’t expecting there to be a major malfunction along the campaign trail at some point – and who more likely to be the one to tip the barrel than our very own iron Scot PM, Brown the Frown.
The odds on Brown being the first in this election race to further pollute the hazy whiff of victory for one of the three dominant parties were certainly superior to that of his opponents, who right now must be internally rattled, secretly sympathising with ol’ Gord for his tremendous blunder while patting themselves on the back thinking, ‘glad it wasn’t you old boy.’ The holy ghost of change, Nick Clegg, himself said that “if we all had recordings of what we mutter under our breath, we would all be crimson with embarrassment.” Too right Clegg the Legend, of course we would; but, thankfully for us, we’re not trying to acquaint our humble bottoms with the seat at no.10 – or in Brown’s case, struggling to keep it fastened to it.
‘Gordon’s gaffe’ or ‘BigotGate’, as some are unimaginatively calling it, was a wonderful example of the spills of political endeavours, which strongly outweigh the thrills in most cases. As has been correctly expressed by those pundits who know all too well how Brown reacts to stressful situations regarding the British electorate – who, by the way, are the Arnold Schwarzenegger’s of grumpiness – loosening the cord of his leash to allow him a sniff about Rochdale was probably an even bigger gaffe than that which proceeded to come rolling off his gruff tongue. Andrew Rawnsley, the guy whose book on New Labour sent shockwaves through Brown’s bastion, reiterated his stance on Brown in the Guardian: “this fits a pattern common to many of the temper episodes that I revealed in The End of The Party”.
The gaffe in question was merely a momentary gush of disgust from a man beleaguered by taxing polls and his own rocky road heading to May 6th; I hardly believe that he ever demonstrated blood-curdling contempt for the woman in question, Gillian Duffy, a long-time Labour supporter and widow. This was, in all fairness, one of those PR cock-ups that is highly reflective of the true nature of humanity. When Brown carelessly neglected to disable the microphone lingering on his lapel and spoke those infamous words – “that was a disaster”… “she was a bigoted woman” – he was simply doing what every one of us does on a day-to-day basis: complain.
Now Brown, originally from the land of rain and more rain, like the rest of us, should be used to the quintessential compulsion of Britons, which is to bitch about anything and everything that crosses our path. Whether it’s how cold it has gotten all of a sudden, or why you can’t stop complaining 24/7, the one trait which we all share is the propensity to pull a long face, if only for 10 seconds per day. So, in this respect, Brown is no different to the rest of us. But he is different in another way, albeit a fairly significant one: he’s the Prime Minister (and I’m doubtful he’ll remain it, even if Labour somehow manages to cling on to the parapet).
So what would’ve been for the average couch-grouch an admissible mumble, became the bane of Brown’s embattled brow. Since yesterday’s midday mishap, the insidious audio clip has made its rounds on the airwaves and further down the line footage of a repenting PM was reproduced in stills that sombrely depict Labour’s leader with his head in his hand, as if it were about to slide off from his shoulders and onto the studio floor.
Skimming through the options for headlines last night, the tabloids managed to generate some rather snappy titles, no doubt fuelled by the fervour for the humiliation of a man continually blighted by their bitter titillations. Today’s Sun drolly put it as “Gillian Duffy only popped out for a loaf. She came back with BROWN TOAST” – this, despite my aversion to The Sun, is top of the range popular journalism. Nevertheless, it stands to reason that this instance of inopportune bitchiness is quite understandable given the immense pressure compressing Brown’s patience as the distance between campaign cacophony and election day narrows.
Personally, when I look at the pensioner Duffy who he was engaged with before he pulled the noose closer to his neck in the comfort of his Jag, I’m not entirely sure I wouldn’t have reacted the same way. The queries she had to offer him were so common as to be nauseating, especially to a man who gains a grey hair every time a member of the electorate loses a job. Obviously the biggest consequence of this goes straight to the position of Labour in the polls. And with this arising a day before the final TV debates, who wouldn’t be nervous, let alone bewildered as to what more could go wrong for ol’ Gord. Perhaps, if he finds such outings too much, he should instead nominate his nearest and dearest (cabinet members, that is) to fill in for him – I’m sure ol’ Darling would raise a few eyebrows out on the streets.
In the end this is just one of those unhelpful little dips into the gloom that runs parallel to the ooh and ahh of the surface of electioneering, much like when a councillor goes about canvassing, only to find that their entire ward is populated by bigots – whoops, I mean pleasant people who don’t trust politicians any more. What some observers of Gordon’s gaffe may have clocked, as I did, is that Mrs Duffy is the unmistakable female equivalent of Brown himself, save the Scottish blood. If this were a case of fisticuffs and not forced doorstep apologies, I’m not exactly sure who’d come out on top in a fight. Why not put the campaign on hold just to see; at least then we’d see how they both really feel about each other.