Social Question

martyjacobs's avatar

How damaging is Gordon Brown's gaff?

Asked by martyjacobs (491points) April 29th, 2010

Yesterday, Gordon Brown accidently left his microphone on while having a private conversation with one of his aids. During this exchange, he accused a member of the public of being a “bigot” due to a comment she made about immigration.

My question is this: On the Prescott Punch Scale (one indicating very little damage and 10 representing maximum damage), how damaging is this Gaff to the current MP?

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32 Answers

jeanmay's avatar

It’s terribly damaging, the silly fool. Around 9, I’d say. That lady won’t vote for him, and neither will the rest of her demographic as a result of what he said. People are saying it confirms GB has one persona in front of the cameras, and another behind the scenes. (Well, duh). Nobody cares about his policies; those who were leaning in his direction but uncertain will vote the other way now, for sure.

As far as I’m concerned, it won’t change the way I vote, but I fear I’m in the minority on that one.

ucme's avatar

The miserable twat was dead in the water anyway.Labour know they’re beat & are just going through the motions at present.He’ll be put out to grass come May 6th. A hung parliament awaits should be intriguing.

nebule's avatar

If people are so fickle that they will change the way they vote based on one comment they deserve to have a useless government in power and watch the country turn to mush. It’s pathetic all this spin. Look at the policies, look at the details.

JeffVader's avatar

I suspect that in the great scheme of things it wont matter much at all. It will reinforce the arguments of people who dislike him, saying that he’s out of touch with the public, that he’s rude etc. However for people who do like him, they’ll just say it was one of those things we all do, & he was just unlucky to be caught. I genuinely cant see this changing anyone’s mind.

OpryLeigh's avatar

Whilst Labour is not my first choice when it comes to who I would like to see running the country, I can’t help but feel a bit sorry for Gordon Brown. The silly sod just can’t get anything right! Personally I think that, whilst he was right to apologise to this woman for what he had said, we are all guilty of saying one thing to someone’s face and then when they disapear, having a “private” grumble to someone else about the conversation and that person. Now, I’m not saying that it is right for the PM (or anyone) to slag people off behind their back but it is fairly natural for humans to do so as a way to let off a bit of steam. In my opinion, we have to remember that everyone who is in the running to be PM would probably do the same, the only possible difference is, they would make sure that they didn’t have a micropone on whilst they were doing it! I don’t think this will do anymore damage than has already been done for Labour. Let’s be honest, they are at the bottom of the food chain rightnow and the damage was done long before Gordon Brown called some old dear a Bigot!

jaytkay's avatar

I dunno. Is she a bigot?

jeanmay's avatar

@jaytkay As far as I can tell, she made some vague comments about immigration being bad, which GB successfully deflected. After he left, she felt very impressed with him, and told reporters he had won her round and would get her vote. Meanwhile, he drove away grumbling about having to speak to “some bigoted woman”, and how “ridiculous” she was. Doh!

bunnygrl's avatar

What this has shown up in daylight is the sheer amount of micro managing that happens in these campaigns, everyone who speaks to the great and good on camera are chosen to be there, she wasn’t. She said so herself last night on bbc news, she saw old gordon and strolled over (on her way back from popping out to buy a loaf). It is also important to note that nothing she said was biggoted, nothing at all. She voiced the concerns that you hear on street corners, in shops, everywhere that the public gather. Of the 27 countries who signed the lisbon treaty (and bear in mind that it was enforced on us in the UK without a vote, in spite of a vote being promised in Labour’s last manifesto) 25 of those countries inserted a 10 year opt out of having open borders, Gordon removed ours. Essentially we have no control over the sheer numbers arriving from the EU and the country is suffering for it. Our public services simply can’t cope with the pressure being put on them. Also last year the amount gathered in in income tax for the first time ever did not cover the amount paid out in benefits. That is a scary truth.

Please note that I have no problem with folk coming here to work, but we have over 8 million “ecconomically inactive” UK folk in Britain (the official jobless total just went past 2 and a half million), who we need to find work for. I should also say that I have two school friends who are almost 46 and 47 respectively, and neither has ever had a job. Ever. We have a benefits system in this country which does not encourage people to help themselves, or at least not to get into work. I know that lots of people do want to work, and get no help, but the fact remains that lots of folk (my friends are an example) who do not. When I was trying to get a job I tried to get some help from the disability officer at my local job centre, (I’d asked for some help to write my CV) and she said she wasn’t allowed to offer any help because, even though I am disabled, I am not claiming benefits. Thank God for that lovely girl because she helped me in her lunch breaks (we used to have sandwiches together, and she became a real friend).

So no, she didn’t say anything biggoted, but that is the problem, if you mention the fact that our tiny wee island is getting too crowded and we have lost even the right to control entry to it (or rather that Gordon gave it away) it makes you a bigot. It’s a sorry state of affairs.

Gordon did shoot himself in the foot for sure, but that image of him with his head in his hands in the radio station when his comments were played back to him, well I don’t believe for a second that had anything to do with him feeling sorry for hurting Mrs Duffy’s feelings, it had more to do with him realising that he’d shown the world how two faced he (and likely the rest of them) is (are).

Pretty_Lilly's avatar

He should get points for at least being honest ! Most people who bitch about immigration are bigots !

jeanmay's avatar

@bunnygrl We can never presume to know the true nature of his remorse or lack of it. He did cancel his schedule and spent forty minutes at her house apologising, but one problem with politics is it is impossible to distinguish the politician from the spin.

Let me get this right; are you saying that without the current level of immigration in the U.K, more jobs would be filled by the unemployed? If so, I don’t think this is true. Immigrants typically take on menial jobs that pay poorly and are otherwise completely unappealing. Without immigration those jobs would not be filled. It is by no means a recent phenomenon either: we have been ‘welcoming’ immigrants since the 8th century AD, when the Vikings arrived. Each year a large amount of people also emigrate, so the idea that ‘the floodgates are opening’ is largely a misconception. As for it being easy to get in, I can tell you from my own experience of acquiring a visa for my American husband, that it’s bloody difficult actually, even if you speak English.

But G/A, even though I disagree.

martyjacobs's avatar

@jeanmay, I agree in general with what you say, but we didn’t exactly invite the Vikings to our shores now did we?! I too don’t think Mrs Duffy’s remarks were biggoted in the slightest. Gordon Brown should have a better answer to the population problem that we have in this country (can we really cope with 70M by 2029?).

the100thmonkey's avatar

I know a couple of people who have revised their opinion of him; upwards. For saying what he thought. Admittedly, he didn’t say it to her face.

OreetCocker's avatar

Have never been to his house, so I couldn’t really say ;-)

janbb's avatar

This happens so often in the States too. I wish politicians were free to be themselves and say “on mike” what they say when they think the mike is off. (Joe Biden usually does!) Then we wouldn’t have these ridiculous incidents and false apologies. What a pain in the ass!

I think it probalby will damage him coming so close to the election but it wasn’t looking so great for him anyway, was it?

jeanmay's avatar

@martyjacobs If we’re understanding bigoted to mean prejudice and intolerant towards differing beliefs and ethnicities, then it was a careless choice of words on GB’s part. But I can see and understand his apparent frustration at the generally adopted attitude of superior-otherness when talking about immigration.Of course the remark about the Vikings was tongue-in-cheek, but the point I was trying to make with it is that invasion, occupation and immigration form part of our history and identity as an island nation. Britain has neither welcomed nor invited immigrants; unless you consider colonising their countries, enlisting them to fight and die in our wars, and then treating them with at best silent hostility and at worst with open persecution, a welcome invitation.

jeanmay's avatar

@martyjacobs By the way, where do you get “70M by 2029”?

janbb's avatar

Yes, I think it’s sort of funny that all the immigrants that Britain decries are from countries that they colonised.

martyjacobs's avatar

@jeanmay, the population estimates were mentioned in a recent Panorama on the Beeb:

@janbb, This is why I think we have a duty to allow imigrants into this country (because we have caused a lot of global problems historically). However, there must be a cap on numbers, as the UK isn’t getting any bigger :D

jeanmay's avatar

@martyjacobs Population increase should be considered a global problem, immigration has little do to with it in my opinion. Anyhow, all of you living in the U.K. should quit complaining: you have oodles of space. If you want to know what over-populated really feels like, try living in Asia!

Interesting thread, I’m off to bed.

martyjacobs's avatar

I feel we have a right to be alarmed by this. Immigration is definatley statistically significant when considering the UK’s population, although I do agree that this is a global problem.

Population density figures are not very accurate, but here’s a comparision between Asia, England, the UK and USA (people per square mile of land):

Asia 70
UK 246
England 383
USA 76

(I have no idea how accurate these figures are, but several online sources suggested similar amounts.)

These figures suggest we have a bigger problem than Asia and the USA in terms of available space. This is exacerbated by the fact that 84% of the UK population resides in England.

Over population is also not just about space. More people put more pressure on front line services. This means that people living in the UK might suffer because services like the NHS simply can’t cope with the total number of people in the UK.

Ivan's avatar

Better he call someone a bigot than be one.

janbb's avatar

Well, true, but that’s that danged EU thing, isn’t it?

The_Idler's avatar

The immigrants people mostly complain about in the UK are Eastern Europeans and Somalians.

Somalians, because of the disproportionately high crime rates.

Eastern Europeans, because they undercut the resident population in unskilled labouring jobs, are non-participant in the consumer economy, and send all their earnings “back home”, thus are not only net-‘takers’ in the British economy, but are also effectively disenfranchising entire sections of the working-class. Plus, work is much more boring when your workmates only know four words of English, and just speak amongst themselves. It’s not fun to feel like a stranger in your own land.

I don’t have a problem with them, personally, I have worked with many and, well, people are people. I make friends with them, generally.

That doesn’t detract from the fact of their being here demonstrating the establishment’s total disregard for the welfare of the workers and long term standards of living, in the interests of corporate profits, which is frankly disgusting, coming from a party called “Labour”.

mike1060's avatar

the truth is the labour party is just like all the rest ,and brown showed he has no time for real working class people and their concerns , luckily the mic was on i bet he has said that sort of thing a hundred times before , race is a major concern the fact british people are being washed aside , loosing our national identity , our jobs, homes and everything that was great about britain , is of no concern to the ” main parties ” i left the area were i was born, as was my dad, my grandad , great grandad ect east london because my daughter was the only ” white ” girl in her class ” that can not be right
no wonder the BNP are doing so well are they the only party with their eyes open
for the first time they will get my vote ..

The_Idler's avatar

BNP are a bunch of psychos, but you are right; they are the only people seriously addressing these issues, and yes, that is why they will get votes.

mike1060's avatar

i hope they do it might wake people up ,
it should not be wrong to put ourselves first

jeanmay's avatar

@mike1060 @The_Idler The BNP is at its heart explicitly racist. As, @Ivan says, I’d rather overhear our leader accusing someone of bigotry, than overhear him expressing bigoted views.

@martyjacobs Again, my comment about space was meant tongue-in-cheek. Firstly, I’m making a gross generalisation about Asia. Asia is huge; living in India you are going to experience a completely different population density from, say, South Korea. Secondly, you can find statistics on the internet to back up almost any opinion. For example, this quote regarding China:

“Population density: 362 people square mile (compared to 4 per square mile in Mongolia, 72 in the United States, and 1,188 in South Korea). The population density of China is three times the world average of 91 people per square mile. In Shanghai, China’s largest city, there are almost 100,000 people per square mile. Only twelve cities on earth, including China’s Shenyang, Tianjin and Chengdu, have higher population densities.” Source

So I can’t really take your statistics into account when considering your argument (which you pretty much point out yourself). Really, as someone who has lived in both England and South Korea, I’m saying I feel like in the West we don’t realise what a luxury our personal space is. But that is by the by.

I don’t doubt that infrastructures are under pressure from the growing population, but again, don’t feel this is a problem that has suddenly come about solely due to immigration. It should be viewed as a general social problem. We tend to talk about immigration in terms of “them” and “us”, when really it should be a case of just “us”. Rather than focussing on the steady trickle of immigration (yes, I believe it’s a steady trickle) coming in, we need to address the problems in our infrastructures and the economy for the benefit of us all, thus tackling immigration from the inside out. I think this is the stance that GB is (rather hopelessly) trying to take.

martyjacobs's avatar

@jeanmay, I agree that these stats are not reliable; I was just trying to point out that in areas of the UK lack of space is just as bad as it is in parts of Asia (and will possibly get worse if immigration isn’t controlled). I pretty much agree with what you’re saying, but I’m sure immgration is part of the population problem, and is definatley making exisiting problems worse, e.g. lack of affordable housing.

However, we simply don’t have the infrastrucutre to support immgration at the current rate (all of the main parties agree on this) and we simply don’t have enough money to improve infrastrucutre. In fact, the black hole in the economy means that core services are likely to get worse, not better, in the near future (this is why no one will tell you how big this figure really is).

I think that one of the things that makes Britian great is the fact that we have a more open immgration policy than other big nations. This is why I would never vote for the BNP – all of their policies, even the ones that sound sensible, are rooted in racism. There is a happy medium somewhere, we just need to find it.

jeanmay's avatar

All right then, fair enough. Let me now if you or anyone else finds it!

mike1060's avatar

stats aside i dont think you could dismiss the BNP by comments like its rasict that is a cop out , jack straw is the most rascist man you could wish to meet and hes in the labour party , but its ok hes anti british
is Gay Asian Pacific Support Network (GAPSN)
For gay and bisexual Asian Pacific men to meet, voice concerns, foster self- empowerment, and advocate issues of significance to the community. rascist ? its lottery funded
Hillingdon Mind Projects – Asian Befriending Scheme
Sahara – Asian Support Group , racist ? its lottery funded
Carers of Barking & Dagenham – Ethnic Minorities Project
ARABIC SUPPORT GROUP – Sahar Shamil Arabic speaking. Times and venue to be arranged. ASIAN SUPPORT GROUP , racist ? its lottery funded
Asian People’s Disability Alliance | Support | Patient UK
– Suite 1, 4th Floor Alperton House… support Groups » Asian People’s Disability Alliance… racist ? its lottery funded

Lancashire BME Pact
KUTCHI WOMEN’S GROUP A support group which exists to improve the health, .... Preston Pakistan Cultural Society is a non religious/non political community…
.. racist ? its lottery funded

should i go on and on and on i dont see any english/british help groups out there ?
oh yes one BNP no funding

The_Idler's avatar

There are serious problems in the UK due to unlimited immigration and an absurdly biased anti-discrimination obsession.

Anyone who jumps on me for that will instantly prove my point.

The are countless examples, but a funny one I always see is the “National Black Police Association”. How long do you think our man would keep his job after trying to start a “National White Police Association”...?

Anyone who thinks immigration is a steady trickle clearly hasn’t done much work in factories/warehouses. And therefore can make no comment on the scale and effect of immigration on the resident population. Here’s a clue to all the comfortable middle-class supporters of unlimited immigration: most of the population is working class. I know its easy to forget that a huge section of the population has no job security and has been steadily stripped of all their rights as workers over the past 30 years and forced to take pay cuts, to remain competitive with cheap migrant labour, but hey at least that ivory tower didn’t cost so much to build! Good for you!

I think, until you get laid off to make way for cheap migrant labour, or end up working for years through agency with no rights, because the labour force has been disenfranchised by a torrent, yes a torrent, of foreign cheap labour, you don’t really have any right to comment on the matter.

It’s like a working-class man saying “Yeah, people earning over 50k should be taxed at 70pc. I don’t see what you’re complaining about, it’s a great idea! While we’re at it, yearly tax on properties worth any higher than 50% more than the average home.”
Ooooh, don’t like the sound of that, do we Mr. Accountant, does it burn? Try getting replaced by a cheap import if you want to know what burns!

“I don’t doubt that infrastructures are under pressure from the growing population, but again, don’t feel this is a problem that has suddenly come about solely due to immigration.”

CIA world factbook says:
Population growth rate: 0.279% (2009 est.)
Net migration rate: 2.16 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2009 est.) (That’s +0.216%)


This does not count migrant workers.

Considering this, along with the fact that fertility rate of immigrants is much, much, much higher than that of the British, it can be seen that immigration is cause for the vast majority of population growth, and hence the problems associated with it.

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