Brown-man Speaks With Forked Tongue

By DeusExMacintosh

Gordon Brown has said he is “mortified” after being caught on microphone describing a voter he had just spoken to in Rochdale as a “bigoted woman”.

Gillian Duffy, 65, had challenged him on issues including immigration. As he got into his car, he was still wearing a broadcast microphone and was heard to say “that was a disaster”.

Mr Brown later spent more than half an hour at Mrs Duffy’s house, apologising to her before telling waiting reporters he had misunderstood what she had said…

He had already phoned Mrs Duffy to apologise after the tape was played to him during a BBC Radio 2 interview. After listening to the recording, with his forehead resting on his hand, he said: “I do apologise if I’ve said anything that has been hurtful.”

Mr Brown later made an even stronger apology to Labour members, saying he “profoundly regretted” the incident.

The comments were made after the conversation with Mrs Duffy which ended with him complimenting her and her family. As he went to get into his car, Mr Brown told her: “Very nice to meet you, very nice to meet you.”

But off camera, and not realising he still had a Sky News microphone pinned to his shirt, he was heard to tell an aide: “That was a disaster – they should never have put me with that woman. Whose idea was that? It’s just ridiculous…”

Asked what she had said, he is heard to reply: “Ugh everything! She’s just a sort of bigoted woman that said she used to be Labour. I mean it’s just ridiculous. I don’t know why Sue brought her up towards me.”

BBC News

And if you can’t say something nice… don’t say nothing at all.

UPDATE: I’m still undecided but when SL showed me this, I loved it. H/T: Simon Sprague at Brasenose who is using it as his facebook icon.

UPDATE 2/5/10: Unfortunately the BBC offers no way of embedding their video clips so I can only offer the link to this Taiwanese animated recreation of Bigotgate. General consensus seems to be that they’ve caught Gordon rather well but it took me twenty minutes to work out what the hell that last part was about.


  1. Posted April 29, 2010 at 8:20 am | Permalink

    This is all about the ubiquity of recording devices and the media. All politicians speak with forked tongue in this sense- they must daily deal with people they think are complete morons.

    He was in fact complaining about this- as in, please minders don’t stick me talking to rambling bigots, because it is frustrating that I can’t just clip them over the ears with a frozen haddock.

    The less slack pollies have for having ‘a bad day’ or a loose mouthed moment, the more ridiculously perfect they have to become (in that media sense, not in a policy management sense, less and less relevant that is), the less personalities and individuals we will see in the role.

    Not his biggest fan but I feel for him on this one.

  2. Posted April 29, 2010 at 8:34 am | Permalink

    Trouble was, she wasn’t actually being bigoted. She’d been satisfied with Brown’s answer that as many British people went to work in Europe.

  3. Posted April 29, 2010 at 10:42 am | Permalink

    Isn’t that Sky News frame interesting?

    A lot of people on the Right whose principle political value is liberty let News Ltd techniques slide because of alliance. But the News Ltd crew really need to pull their heads in. They seem to’ve collectively decided that ‘left’ political parties have no business in government and are using every Ministry of Truth trick to push the buttons on the Lowcomm Denominatron.

    Yellow journalism’s always existed but I think there is a limit. And when such unbelievable bias is demonstrated by such a large media corporation it’s cause for concern.

    All media outlets have their perspective and there’s an awful lot of pro-Democrat/Labour/Labor partisanship but News Ltd is the most shameless at Goebbels/Beria type tactics.

    And the politicians respond with a mask of PR expertise guaranteed to help sociopaths appear like Apple Pie to voters. And how can one participate in a debate about immigration sensibly when volcanoes are made of pimples like this?

    I like the Murdochs. I think they’re wise. I hope they wise up. The Culture’s a shambles. And they ain’t helping.

    PS I bet Sue’s in the Shite right about now. 🙂

  4. Jack
    Posted April 29, 2010 at 2:06 pm | Permalink

    Adrien I think its more opportunism by news ltd than anything else. They thought they had a sure thing with the conservatives like they had when they supported labour back in 97 onwards.

  5. Peter Patton
    Posted April 29, 2010 at 2:46 pm | Permalink


    I don’t – intentionally – watch any News Ltd. media. I picked up this melodrama on a left-wing academic’s blog, and its link to the 125,794 analyses of it from The Guardian. 😉

  6. Peter Patton
    Posted April 29, 2010 at 2:50 pm | Permalink

    Ah, the good old days. 😉

  7. Peter Patton
    Posted April 29, 2010 at 3:02 pm | Permalink


    The great difference is that the historically-equivalent lady in Sir Robert Menzies’ town-hall audience could have let rip with all the invective for which the English class is unbeatable. Sadly, the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom was carried away to the safety of his chauffeur driven limo. “Labour” Party, my arse. 😉

  8. Peter Patton
    Posted April 29, 2010 at 3:15 pm | Permalink


    The “woman.” This “bigot.” Well she has taken the trouble to leave her home, or her place of work, to engage politically. She has heard the Prime Minister will be about. She has views. She is in her 60s. She has paid taxes, worked hard. Her relatives have died in wars, perhaps committed suicide, perhaps been in pokey, perhaps won Lotto, perhaps married a Chinaman. I bet few of us make that sort of physical public commitment to political discourse.

    In the Australian vernacular, she “has a go.” Maybe her hubbie says “darl, please don’t do this,” her daughter says, “oh mum, you’ll embarrass me.” Her son says, “bollocks to that. Go and give the fake tosser the finger.” Off she goes, only to be plastered across the globe, and sneered at by self-described “progressive” white academics and left-wing journalists – from the safety of their keyboard – as a “bigot.”

    Some democracy!

  9. Posted April 29, 2010 at 3:31 pm | Permalink

    The issue for me is Brown’s failure to be direct with the woman. Brown was so nice to her face that when the news crew spoke to her afterwards, she said Labour had won her vote back. Interestingly, when journos from Sky later sought her out and told her what he had said, she didn’t believe them until they took her outside to the OB unit and played her the tape.

    That is not the action of a woman who habitually goes off half-cocked.

  10. Peter Patton
    Posted April 29, 2010 at 3:38 pm | Permalink


    I judge neither Brown nor Mrs. Duffy. Their exchange is the stuff for which people have died for democracy. You are quite right. Brown should have told his minders to step back, while he engaged with Mrs. Duffy. If necessary, he should have played hardball. He should have treated her as he would a person at a BBQ, in the pub, or at a school fete.

  11. Posted April 29, 2010 at 3:42 pm | Permalink

    There is a fairly detailed profile of Mrs Duffy here. It’s important, too, to remember that she didn’t just ask Brown about immigration — she had several different concerns, including public debt and taxation.

  12. Patrick
    Posted April 29, 2010 at 3:56 pm | Permalink

    Geez Adrien get a grip.

  13. Peter Patton
    Posted April 29, 2010 at 3:59 pm | Permalink


    Not to be all old-fashioned and – god forbid – reactionary, but it is just common decency to at least presume your interlocutor is coming at you in good faith, and in some abstract sense, you are both on the same side; participatory democracy.

  14. Peter Patton
    Posted April 29, 2010 at 4:29 pm | Permalink

    Now that I have said all that, let us get down to brass tacks. It is Brown and his New cough* Labour *cough con-artists who have established the British Surveillance State. Thus justice requires that the odious insupportable hypocrite hang by his goolies in the barmy breeze of Trafalgar Square.

    As you reap, so you sow, you tedious git.

    Or some such pleasantry. 🙂

  15. Posted April 29, 2010 at 4:34 pm | Permalink

    Patrick – Geez Adrien get a grip.

    What exactly should I get a grip on?

  16. Posted April 29, 2010 at 7:04 pm | Permalink

    And to be fair, it’s not a uniquely News Ltd cause celebre, the story has been blasted out of every media orifice in the UK whether left, right, centre… you name it. It’s all over the USA and Australia now too.

    The universal British reaction is that smarming to someone’s face but then bitching behind their back is just poor. One of the few instances of the double standard where men come off the worst as women are sometimes given a bit of leeway about this kind of behaviour as they’re assumed to be less confrontational by nature. For a bloke, it’s just not considered… manly (reminiscent as SL reminded me of Figes throwing his wife under the bus over what turned out to be HIS negative Amazon reviews of his historical competitors).

    Acceptability even for women varies culture by culture though, and this was one of the main points of conflict in relations between the local Welsh communities and English “incomers” living in Wales I observed while living in a village up the Swansea Valley.

  17. Peter Patton
    Posted April 30, 2010 at 8:36 am | Permalink

    Jesus. After the debate, now even every single commissar of the Guardian Politburo is calling the election for the Tories!

  18. Posted April 30, 2010 at 11:53 am | Permalink

    After the debate, now even every single commissar of the Guardian Politburo is calling the election for the Tories!

    Not surprising. The Labour Party don’t deserve to win. I wonder what the Tories will do that’s any different. Will they quit the wars? Will they cease and desist from cosy crony chats in camera? Don’t think so.

    Politics in English speaking democracies = Hungry Jacks or McDonalds; Coke or Pepsi. A choice between to slick branded and bland barely distinguishable products that are both just as bad for you.

    Well maybe they’ll bring back flogging just for Tony Blair. 🙂

  19. munroe
    Posted April 30, 2010 at 4:37 pm | Permalink

    Politics in English speaking democracies = Hungry Jacks or McDonalds; Coke or Pepsi.

    Centrism is a feature of the system, not a bug.
    You want radical? Fine, go start a revolution.

  20. Posted April 30, 2010 at 10:36 pm | Permalink

    Clegg may be doing just that. We know exactly what to expect from the Tories: pretty much the same as under Labour. However the Liberal Democrat policies, particularly around the economy, are completely different and therefore quite radical (though the social agenda is a bit more familiar).

    This revolution has been televised.

    Well maybe they’ll bring back flogging just for Tony Blair.

    There were rumours that Labour was going to try flogging OF Tony Blair in the final week in a desperate bid to up their chances but that would be the absolute kiss of death. Tony Blair is rapidly turning into the left’s Margaret Thatcher.

  21. Posted May 2, 2010 at 7:52 pm | Permalink

    Do look at the update; it’s hilarious.

  22. Posted May 3, 2010 at 11:06 am | Permalink

    Centrism is a feature of the system, not a bug.

    Yes true. And all systems have feautres which are less than ideal.

    You want radical? Fine, go start a revolution.

    Sure there’s a more temperant approach. I don’t want to start a revolution. It’ll eat me.

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