Fifteen years ago today, Labour approved its new Clause Four, and the party soared to even greater heights of popularity. The following week, Labour scored a massive victory in the local elections. How things change.
So, here’s one response to bigotgate – which, I have no doubt, will top the lists of election gaffes for decades to come:
Gordon Brown probably read more than he should have into Gillian Duffy’s comment: “You can't say anything about the immigrants because you're saying that you're... all these Eastern Europeans what are coming in, where are they flocking from?”
This remark, made amid a series of other complaints to Brown, was dumb: of course many people - and many newspapers - can and do express views hostile to immigration all the time. (And where does she think Eastern Europeans are going to be coming from – South America? West Africa?)
I don’t think it’s hard to construe this as ignorant and intolerant. But, in what Mrs Duffy went on to say today, she seemed more reasonable and didn’t even make the connection between her immigrants remark and the possibility of bigotry. So who knows what significance she meant to attach to it? I certainly don’t. Maybe Brown just leapt too far to his conclusion.
And of course most of us can think of plenty of times when we’ve come out of a frustrating meeting and mouthed off about a disagreeable person – to whom we’ve just had to be all sweetness and light – in theatrically extreme terms. Brown just had the grotesque carelessness to get caught. I note that Cameron and Clegg have been pretty minimalist in their comments on this – there but for the grace of God go they?
And here’s another response:
If Cameron had been caught in a similar mess, and then followed it up with a series of painfully flailing attempts to apologise and explain, what sort of blog post would I be writing?