If Gillian Duffy is a bigot, then Labour is the bigoted party

My first reaction upon reading about Gordon Brown’s “bigoted woman” gaffe was, “but what if she is bigoted?” My second thought was, “this will probably work in Gordon Brown’s favour”.

After all, it wouldn’t be the first time the media got a tad over-excited when criticising Gordon Brown, only for it to work in Brown’s favour. Just remember back to the faux furore over his handwriting. Then there were the bullying allegations which could have been so damaging for Brown but ended up being more damaging for a charity.

It turns out that, although she perhaps is not a full-scale bigot, Gillian Duffy’s views certainly head towards that zone. Her anti-immigration rant was a pretty typical ill-informed platitude. The nadir was her asking “where all those eastern Europeans are flocking from”, to which the answer is, of course, eastern Europe.

Even so, this is nonsense the like of which we probably all hear every day, be it in an overheard conversation on the street or one of those mad phone-in bigot-magnets that radio stations love to broadcast every morning. In that sense, it was over-the-top of Gordon Brown to call her bigoted, although I would probably have been thinking the same myself.

I am sure that if John Prescott had done this, it would be widely seen as a vote-winner. As it is, this incident plays into media narratives about the gaffe-prone shambles of a man man who fails to empathise with voters and who has a Jekyll and Hyde character. But how many can seriously say they have never muttered under their breath about other people’s views being intensely wrong?

What I find interesting, though, is that Mrs Duffy holds these sorts of views and yet describes herself as “a lifelong Labour supporter”. This is just yet another demonstration to me that Labour is not a compassionate party that cares about the worse-off people in society. A truly progressive party ought to welcome and applaud the endeavours of people who are so desperate to make their lives better that they will move to the opposite side of the continent to try and legitimately make it happen.

This gets to the heart of the real reason why this incident is damaging for Gordon Brown. It exposes the fact that Labour has long since given up the pretence of being the party that is in favour of the disadvantaged in society. Yet at the same time, it dismantles like a house of cards all of the efforts Labour has made over years, if not decades, to court the votes of bigots.

This is the party that likes to talk tough and act tough on immigration. It is the party that delights in putting up hoops of fire for immigrants to leap through. It is the party that introduced the bigoted points based system. It is the party that, in a bigoted move, restricted residents of EU member states Bulgaria and Romania from legitimately seeking work in this country.

Gordon Brown is the person who proudly announced that there should be “British jobs for British workers”. Well, today he’s said it all — Labour is the bigoted party.

The problem is that Gordon Brown has, probably for the first time I can remember, said something about immigration that I can actually agree with — but it wasn’t intended to be heard. That’s because while Labour likes to think of itself as the “progressive” party, its credentials in this area are in fact wafer-thin. If Brown thinks that expressing a mildly anti-immigration view is “bigoted”, he and his party will nevertheless do anything to gain the votes of bigots if it means they can get into power.

It interests me that one of Gordon Brown’s most extensive apologies today has been to members of the Labour Party in an email. Is it because he called them bigots?


  1. What a disgrace to this country Brown and his party are, they have rode roughshod over hardworking taxpayers for years, favouring feckless benifit scroungers, immigrants, criminals and all manner of lame ducks. It is now time we had a government with a common sense approach to get this once great country back on track. Forget political correctness, lets have some plain speaking, and if some people are offended, tough, lets get tough on criminal behaviour, get more law breakers off the streets. Cut out benifits for free loaders who have no intentions of finding work. Limit immigration only to people who have skills we need and a job to come to, kick out asylum seekers and law breakers, we have no need to import gypsies and criminals from afar, we have enough of them homegrown. Its time we the British people were given back the right to express our opinions without fear of being branded bigots or racists. Lets all vote for common sense and bring Britain back to a country to be proud of.

  2. This is the most sensible and level headed assessment of this situation that I have read anywhere. Although I’m not a Labour supporter, I’d almost like Brown to win the election. At least it would show that the country can see through the lynch mob of the media organisations.
    Duncan, I hope that one day you go into politics.

  3. This is a good example of why I detest New Labour thinking. Pretending one “politically correct” thing while actually thinking something considerably less palatable. Gillian wasn’t being bigoted (that requires deliberation as well as racism/xenophobia), just asking Gordon about a subject she didn’t know enough about to form sensible questions. Not knowing the difference could well cost Gordon and Labour the election.

    This is where I feel thankful that the Labour candidate in my area is Old Labour and thus doesn’t subscribe to that sort of contradiction in thinking.

  4. Methinks that, while Hillary is perfectly entitled to express her views, she doesn’t seem to realise that saying “kick out asylum seekers” and mentioning gypsies in the terms she does (equating them with criminals) are both, in fact, bigoted and she ought therefore to expect to be called out on it.

  5. what happens to all the money that goes into ni tax etc . and ends up in i the pockets of non british nationals and how many more before the country wakes up to not paying up this is not a free loading country none of the parties i think want to face the reality