One of Gordon Brown’s features compared with some politicians is that he comes over as actually human, rather than a voter-pleasing robot – today the grumpy side of that humanity was most unfortunately on display.
Much has been made in the last few hours of that unguarded comment picked up by Brown’s still active radio-mic after a walkabout in Rochdale today. Pretty much everything obvious that could be said on the matter already has been said. Pretty Much.
It’s something that everyone speaking in public or on TV dreads, that many have been famously caught in (and sometimes fired over).Both unwise and unlucky, while leaving in the car Brown commented on his chat with a member of the public that he did not think went well and what he thought was the problem. Considering some of the things people have been heard to utter off-mic it was mild, but no-one wants to be labelled a “bigot”. To make it worse the person insulted was a female pensioner and a life-long Labour voter.
When a recording of his comment was played back to him at a radio-studio also in front of the he was clearly crushed by the realisation of what happened. Meanwhile the tape had been played to the woman by a gleeful pack of Journalists in front of the cameras out for Brown’s blood.
Naturally she was upset by the revelation and probably not too delighted by the sudden media circus that descended on her home. Brown apologised to her on the phone and then went round to apologise in person and reportedly stayed over 40 mins. This is probably the best he could have done, how often is it that a head of government personally apologies to anyone for anything? He apologised too, to the party workers whom he let down with this gaffe and efforts he might just have trashed. How often does that happen in politics.
The other thing this event highlights is how difficult it can be for anyone to rationally discuss concerns about immigration without one or both sided stopping listening and labelling the other.