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UK PM calls a voter a bigot whilst wearing a radio mike.
April 28, 2010 6:10 AM   Subscribe

Gordon Brown didn't realise his radio mike was on and accidentally called the woman he'd just spoken with a "bigot". The Guardian's take; The Daily Mail. Is this Brown's Prescott moment?
posted by handee (158 comments total) 7 users marked this as a favorite

 
I think most people sympathised with Prescott when he set about the egg thrower but I doubt Brown is going to have any sympathy.

I've heard his comment in the car over and over on the news but I have yet to hear exactly what she said to provoke it. Was Brown just calling a spade a spade or was it an overreaction?
posted by Transparent Yak at 6:18 AM on April 28, 2010


The most important thing you've got to do is remember the difference between the "what they said" and the "what they are" conversation.
posted by anthill at 6:19 AM on April 28, 2010 [8 favorites]


Man calls bigot bigot?

"You can't say anything about the immigrants - all these Eastern Europeans were flocking in."

(From the first link.)
posted by chavenet at 6:20 AM on April 28, 2010 [1 favorite]


Eh, you complain about immigrants as the "other," you should get called out on it. If only he had the courage to do it to her face.
posted by mccarty.tim at 6:20 AM on April 28, 2010 [3 favorites]


It's a huge gaffe but it's no Prescott moment. Prescott benefited from smacking the egg thrower.
posted by vbfg at 6:21 AM on April 28, 2010


Is Gordon Brown typically anti-immigrant? I'm horribly behind on international politics.
posted by mccarty.tim at 6:21 AM on April 28, 2010


He didn't accidentally call her a bigot. I'm pretty sure that was deliberate. Leaving the mike on was the accident.
posted by Dojie at 6:22 AM on April 28, 2010 [15 favorites]


How helpful of the Daily Mail to show a video of Brown getting into his car and driving away, but not of the woman's comments regarding immigration.
posted by robself at 6:23 AM on April 28, 2010 [19 favorites]


She IS a bigot and said she was ashamed to be called Labour. Is he aiming for this demographic? Go after voters you can get. (Talking to the Democrats here too. You can't lure Rush Limbaugh no matter how rightwing your policies get. Do something actual people want instead.)
posted by DU at 6:23 AM on April 28, 2010


Dojie is 100% correct about the part that was accidental. Poorly worded post on my part. Sorry.
posted by handee at 6:25 AM on April 28, 2010


"Mr. Prime Minister, Malcolm Tucker for you on line 1..."
posted by Optamystic at 6:25 AM on April 28, 2010 [12 favorites]


Man calls spade a spade indeed. Just another example of how the media can and will gleefullty work overtime to manufacture scandal out of nothing at all.
posted by KokuRyu at 6:26 AM on April 28, 2010


Pfff. The media, making more stories for the media. Brown could at least have used this as an opportunity to draw attention to the problems of people's attitudes towards immigration - instead, he apologises, squirms and the journalists lap it up.

What with this, and David Cameron's Nicola Murray-style photo opportunity the other day, this whole election is looking more and more like a feature-length special episode of The Thick of It.
posted by creeky at 6:26 AM on April 28, 2010 [4 favorites]


How DARE you call racists bigots! Next you'll be calling homophobes bigots!
posted by Pope Guilty at 6:27 AM on April 28, 2010 [6 favorites]


Here's the original exchange.

She comes across as pretty reasonable; an old fashioned Labour voter feeling let down by the Labour government.

Appalling for Gordon Brown, and for Labour. No real similarity to the Prescott incident.
posted by DanCall at 6:29 AM on April 28, 2010 [5 favorites]


How DARE you call racists bigots! Next you'll be calling homophobes bigots!

She was talking about Eastern European immigrants. Bigoted, perhaps, but how is that racist?
posted by Dojie at 6:35 AM on April 28, 2010


This is a disaster for Brown. This woman is expressing what millions of working class Labour voters feel, most of those people won't like to hear themselves called bigots.

It's all very well to say that it's true, but like it or not a lot of people feel this way. Not only that, but bringing up immigration in this election at all is bad for Labour (and for the Lib Dems - their proposed amnesty is unlikely to be widely popular if it gets much air time) and good for the Tories. We may not like it, but much of the public - even those who would never vote Conservative - is more closely aligned with the Tories on immigration than with either of the other major parties.
posted by atrazine at 6:36 AM on April 28, 2010 [3 favorites]


I think the idea was to get Gordon out among the 'real people',not be donuted by loyal party supporters and get something like a John Major on his soapbox moment... and it's back-fired terribly.
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 6:36 AM on April 28, 2010


Out of a four minute interview about the national debt, tax on pensions and university fees, there was a throwaway line along the lines of "...and you can't say anything about the immigrants - all these Eastern Europeans flocking in." and this is what he chooses to comment on privately.

OK, she's out of order. But she's an elderly lady expressing her concerns - this is exactly the sort of voter Labour should be listening to and his dismissal of her as simply a bigot is the precise reason the BNP do so well in these areas.
posted by Markb at 6:37 AM on April 28, 2010 [4 favorites]


"You can't say anything about the immigrants... all these Eastern Europeans that are coming in. Where are they flocking from?"

Eastern Europe?
posted by creeky at 6:40 AM on April 28, 2010 [24 favorites]


It's all very well to say that it's true, but like it or not a lot of people feel this way.

Demagogue
posted by DU at 6:44 AM on April 28, 2010 [4 favorites]


Oh good, a story where everyone's at fault – the xenophobic pensioner, the irascible prime minister, the hyperbolising press. Now let's argue about who's most at fault until we fall over burbling in righteous indignation.

I love election season.
posted by him at 6:44 AM on April 28, 2010 [19 favorites]


And watching the full video of Gordon with the women, he is completely pathetic, just drily trotting out bullet points from his manifesto. Instead of directly addressing her concerns with some passion he just comes over as a tried politician from a tired party.
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 6:47 AM on April 28, 2010


She added: "I want to know why those comments I said there, why I was called a bigot."

what
posted by anniecat at 6:50 AM on April 28, 2010


This is a disaster for Brown. This woman is expressing what millions of working class Labour voters feel, most of those people won't like to hear themselves called bigots.
My first instinct is it won't hurt the Labour vote too much, as they're down to a fairly hard core that are holding their noses to vote for the party anyway, and it would take a bit more than this for them to change their minds. And nor can either of the other parties (mainstream that is - expect BNP will be milking it hard) gain much as they are all pro-immigration, plus of course it's not surprise Gordon is a grumpy git with zero people skills.
posted by Abiezer at 6:52 AM on April 28, 2010


Just read elsewhere he's on his way back to Rochdale to apologise in person, having already called Mrs Duffy for a swift grovel. After his super facepalm moment on the radio, I reckon he should go with a 'never apologise, never explain' 'I'm hard me' line and tough it out - this way he's only giving the story extra legs.
posted by Abiezer at 6:59 AM on April 28, 2010 [1 favorite]


Was Brown just calling a spade a spade or was it an overreaction?

People calling other people spades is what causes all this rubbish to begin with.
posted by Jimbob at 7:00 AM on April 28, 2010 [10 favorites]


Actually, you know what this kind of reminds me of here in the US? When that crazy lady called Barack Obama an "Arab" during a McCain rally, and McCain had to grab the microphone back from her. This is why you can't just listen to all your constituents concerns, because drawing the line from old school xenophobe to bigot can be a slippery slope. One minute she'll start talking about how all the Eastern Europeans are flocking in and if he's polite about it, then the next minute he finds himself having to listen to her talk about how the UK should find a way to enslave immigrants or outlaw headscarves or deport Jews. There's no telling with these people who actively dislike things they decide is the "other." And if he's nice to her about it and polite in his response, he'll sound like he's okay with it and understanding of it. I'm called he called her a bigot. (Not that I have any business getting involved with non-US politics.)
posted by anniecat at 7:05 AM on April 28, 2010 [2 favorites]


Just read elsewhere he's on his way back to Rochdale to apologise in person,

Despite the old lady saying she didn't want to speak to him. Probably not the wisest move, under the circumstances.
Mandelson on Sky news looked uncomfortable (surely a first) and told us that we shouldn't judge Gordon's actions when under stress - talking in the street to a lifelong Labour supporter, who went away intending to continue to vote Labour was stressful?
Damn good job we don't have to rely on him to broker foreign policy or anything really stressful, isn't it?
posted by Markb at 7:06 AM on April 28, 2010


She was talking about Eastern European immigrants. Bigoted, perhaps, but how is that racist?

Given that "race" is an artificial construct, there's a lot of leeway there.

Plus, the vast majority of Eastern European immigrants to the UK are Slavs - Poles in particular. Hitler thought they were enough of a "race" to have them earmarked for eventual extermination. The fact that this woman's idea of Eastern Europeans was in the same league as Hitler's . . . well, that's good enough for me to consider her racist.
posted by Dee Xtrovert at 7:07 AM on April 28, 2010 [17 favorites]


To clarify: in particular, the availability of cheap plumbers and tradesmen from former Soviet Bloc countries is a big social issue.
posted by MuffinMan at 7:07 AM on April 28, 2010 [1 favorite]


Oh wait, this is a way better link to the video of the crazy lady McCain had to take the mike from. It includes a crazy guy who recently became a new father too.
posted by anniecat at 7:08 AM on April 28, 2010


Everyone knows that the elderly are allowed to be racist and you should just sort of shuffle your feet and look down at the floor and pretend they never really said anything.
posted by Artw at 7:08 AM on April 28, 2010 [32 favorites]


As a complete aside, one of the related videos from the Prescott link featured Arnold Schwarzenegger getting egged, then responding with commendable aplomb.
posted by Burhanistan at 7:14 AM on April 28, 2010


It is mind boggling that the Prime Minister was not savvy enough to realise he was still miked up. Unbelieveable.
posted by fire&wings at 7:16 AM on April 28, 2010


And this goes to prove once again that there isn't anything quite as damaging for a politician as being caught telling the truth.
The good thing about democracy is that we get the rulers that we choose. The bad thing about democracy is that we get the rulers that we deserve.
posted by Skeptic at 7:17 AM on April 28, 2010 [2 favorites]


The fact that this woman's idea of Eastern Europeans was in the same league as Hitler's

Do you have any other fantastic exaggerations you wish to share with us?
posted by I_pity_the_fool at 7:21 AM on April 28, 2010 [11 favorites]


Full transcript of the original discussion here.
posted by Markb at 7:25 AM on April 28, 2010


Watching a live feed of Mrs Duffy's front door at the minute. Could politics get any more exciting? :D Any bets it's a set-up and she'll come out converted to internationalism and intending to stand as a Labour candidate in the local elections?
posted by Abiezer at 7:27 AM on April 28, 2010


Then a few months later the council will mysteriously have built an extension to her house.
posted by Abiezer at 7:28 AM on April 28, 2010


handee, you had a pretty good OP about a politician tellin' it like it is, and ima let you finish, but Obama had the best harsh-but-true sentiment EVER!
posted by l33tpolicywonk at 7:29 AM on April 28, 2010


The fact that this woman's idea of Eastern Europeans was in the same league as Hitler's

Whoa there Godwin! She said "You can’t say anything about the immigrants because you’re saying you’re – but all these eastern Europeans coming in, where are they flocking from?" - I don't recall that being akin to advocating mass extermination.

Hitler was far more eloquent for a start.
posted by Markb at 7:34 AM on April 28, 2010 [4 favorites]


The fact that this woman's idea of Eastern Europeans was in the same league as Hitler's . . . well, that's good enough for me to consider her racist.

That's not a fact; that's an opinion. A fact is something concrete.

Her idea being in the "same league" as Hitler's is something you threw together on your own, as she's never remotely touched Hitler, the Nazis or anything relating to them in her speech. You've chosen to associate the two in some bizarre way, but that's not a fact, that's an opinion.
posted by Hiker at 7:36 AM on April 28, 2010 [1 favorite]


It's the first real gaff of the election campaign, but Brown has a long way to go in the "forgetting your microphone is on" stakes to beat John Major calling his cabinet "bastards" or the real master Ronald Regan.
posted by bap98189 at 7:36 AM on April 28, 2010


Plus, the vast majority of Eastern European immigrants to the UK are Slavs - Poles in particular. Hitler thought they were enough of a "race" to have them earmarked for eventual extermination. The fact that this woman's idea of Eastern Europeans was in the same league as Hitler's . . . well, that's good enough for me to consider her racist.

I don't see anything that indicates that she views Eastern Europeans as an inferior race. There are lots of reasons to be concerned about a large influx of immigrants other than a belief of genetic inferiority. It may be simple bigotry, but there's plenty of wiggle room if we give her the benefit of the doubt.

I wasn't aware that viewing Slavs as a separate race was common outside of white supremacist groups, but I'm also used to U.S. racial politics which boil everything down to black, white and sometimes brown.

Now, I'm off to check a different box on my census form. I didn't realize being half-Polish and half-Western European qualified me as 'biracial.' Neat!
posted by Dojie at 7:45 AM on April 28, 2010 [4 favorites]


Super Gordon's out - he's very sorry and it was all a misunderstanding apparently. Now back to a riveting look at Mrs Duffy's well-kept front door - but what will she have to say?
posted by Abiezer at 7:49 AM on April 28, 2010


Markb – look at the language she's using, though. This whole idea that you "can't" say anything about "the immigrants" has long been a canard employed by this country's xenophobes, bigots and racists; it's the kind of thing that is stock-in-trade for the likes of UKIP and – at the more extreme end of the spectrum – the BNP, who use it as code, especially when campaigning in areas like Rochdale. Similarly, she talks about immigrants "flocking" here, as if they're fucking Canada geese or something, and not, y'know, people – to my mind, this is about half a step above talking about how they're "swamping" the country.

And eastern Europeans are to this era what Indians and Asians were to the 1960s and 70s – the most recent and most visible group of immigrants to this country, and therefore the ones who are currently getting the most flak.

Did Brown fuck up by leaving his radio mic on? Most assuredly. Is this woman a bigot? Perhaps. (I think she is.) But if she isn't, she's unthinkingly bought into a well-funded and arduously-pushed line about how immigration is fucking up this country, and that line legitimises and gives actual bigots much more room for manoeuvre in the mainstream debate than they deserve.
posted by Len at 7:49 AM on April 28, 2010 [25 favorites]


Of course, if all the coverage actually gets Gordon a bump in the polls you'll have Clegg and Cameron stalking the streets looking for old ladies with dodgy views to abuse.
posted by Abiezer at 7:52 AM on April 28, 2010 [1 favorite]


I'm an American who's in England on vacation. We were in London, and now we're in Liverpool (gingerbeer is at a conference) and at the end if the week we're off to Scotland (Islay, mostly, and Glasgow very briefly).

The things I've found most different so far that I didn't expect are things like the room cleaners in our hotels being Eastern European - back home, they're more likely to be Hispanic. It's not that I expected that here, exactly, but it did give me a moment's "Oh, yeah! Huh."

And the other night on TV we caught a several-minute-long...infomercial, I guess, for the BNP. It was incredibly surreal.
posted by rtha at 7:55 AM on April 28, 2010


Similarly, she talks about immigrants "flocking" here

That's a fairly normal simile to describe a large volume of people though, isn't it? If she'd said "cinema goers have flocked to see avatar", she wouldn't be describing them as subhuman.
posted by I_pity_the_fool at 7:55 AM on April 28, 2010 [3 favorites]


Netx up: How my nan wasn't racist when she used to talk about "them darkies".
posted by Artw at 7:56 AM on April 28, 2010 [5 favorites]


She was talking about Eastern European immigrants. Bigoted, perhaps, but how is that racist?

In America we consider people of Spanish descent to be a separate, non-white race, and we used to consider the Irish a separate, non-white race.
posted by dirigibleman at 7:57 AM on April 28, 2010


Wait, that's your Prime Minister?

I thought it was Terry Jones just having a laugh by appearing on news shows...
posted by jtron at 7:57 AM on April 28, 2010


And the other night on TV we caught a several-minute-long...infomercial, I guess, for the BNP. It was incredibly surreal.
That would be a party political broadcast, rtha. In the run up to an election, a party that's fielding a sufficient number of candidates is entitled to have theirs broadcast.
posted by Abiezer at 7:57 AM on April 28, 2010 [2 favorites]


This whole idea that you "can't" say anything about "the immigrants" has long been a canard employed by this country's xenophobes, bigots and racists; it's the kind of thing that is stock-in-trade for the likes of UKIP and – at the more extreme end of the spectrum – the BNP, who use it as code, especially when campaigning in areas like Rochdale.

UKIP is using this incident to say that she should vote for them now that the woman is saying that she won't be voting Labour.

Regardless of the bigotry of her statement, which I think is inarguable, the British media are already having a field day with this and saying that Gordon Brown is done. Which he is now, if he wasn't already.
posted by blucevalo at 8:02 AM on April 28, 2010


(And if there were any justice in the world, Jan Brewer would be even more done than Gordon Brown is, but that's an other story.) /end derail
posted by blucevalo at 8:04 AM on April 28, 2010


Definately if you are a bigot you should vote for UKIP, it's practically their platform.
posted by Artw at 8:05 AM on April 28, 2010 [1 favorite]


I_pity_the_fool: That's a fairly normal simile to describe a large volume of people though, isn't it? If she'd said "cinema goers have flocked to see avatar", she wouldn't be describing them as subhuman.

Well, yes, but only if you ignore decades of certain parts of the political spectrum in this country using metaphors and similes which employ terminology more normally applied to non-humans when talking about the so-called perils of immigration. That sort of language has a long and not particularly pleasant history in the UK (to say nothing of certain other parts of Europe), and so any use of it ends up – even if you don't intend it to – becoming a dog whistle for the kind of people who think that we should just send 'em all back to where they came from.
posted by Len at 8:05 AM on April 28, 2010 [1 favorite]


Okay, I'm an ignorant American, but does it matter that Brown is done, assuming that he is? I thought Brits voted for the party/MP and not for the PM.
posted by Pope Guilty at 8:06 AM on April 28, 2010


And the other night on TV we caught a several-minute-long...infomercial, I guess, for the BNP. It was incredibly surreal.

Before the broadcast I wondered how long it would take before there was a WWII reference... the answer was instantly - the broadcast starting with archive footage of searchlights overplayed with a siren.
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 8:09 AM on April 28, 2010


The three main parties played up to the media line that immigration is a major problem for the UK, when this is dubious at best.

They are now reaping what they sowed.
posted by knapah at 8:15 AM on April 28, 2010


i wasn't aware being a bigot was a bad thing. who knew? gee, i musta missed that class in school.
posted by billybobtoo at 8:16 AM on April 28, 2010


Yesterday the children's cartoon figure Peppa Pig pulled out of a party event rather than be seen with two Cabinet ministers, while the Prime Minister was forced to pose with an Elvis impersonator on the weekend.

ProTip: When a cartoon pig doesn't want to be seen with members of your administration, your campaign is probably in serious trouble.
posted by zarq at 8:17 AM on April 28, 2010 [3 favorites]


B3ta already on the case
posted by Abiezer at 8:20 AM on April 28, 2010


The BNP broadcast would have been hilarious if the very idea of them spewing their hateful ideas wasn't so repellent.

It was like they'd gone along to the studio and said "Can you do us something that looks a bit like a cheap version of Little Britain?", without having realised that Little Britain is a comedy.
posted by penguin pie at 8:22 AM on April 28, 2010 [1 favorite]


Pope Guilty: Okay, I'm an ignorant American, but does it matter that Brown is done, assuming that he is? I thought Brits voted for the party/MP and not for the PM.

Does it matter that he's done? Yes and no. To him personally, very much yes. He's not going to lose his seat by any means, but unless something spectacular – David Cameron peels off his shiny exterior to reveal he's a 12 foot tall lizard on the last leaders' TV debate; Nick Clegg is caught kecks-down with Jeanette Krankie – happens, he's not going to be PM come May 7. Not only that, but it's looking like the Labour Party may come third in the vote (if not in the number of seats). If this happens, then he's out as leader, and gets to spend the next few years as a backbench opposition MP whom the rest of the party loathes for losing them the election.

To the rest of the party, no, it doesn't really matter, in as much as it's not as if they're dependent on Brown winning the election for them to keep/win their own seats (that's not to say loathing of Brown himself might not lose some of them their seats). They're much more concerned with that part of the election than they are with Brown being, or not being, personally toast; if he isn't, then it's all gravy. If he is, then fuck him, let's elect a new party leader.
posted by Len at 8:23 AM on April 28, 2010 [1 favorite]


Len "Is this woman a bigot? Perhaps. (I think she is.) But if she isn't, she's unthinkingly bought into a well-funded and arduously-pushed line about how immigration is fucking up this country, and that line legitimises and gives actual bigots much more room for manoeuvre in the mainstream debate than they deserve."

Well, precisely. Which is why Brown's attitude to her concerns all the more.
Like it or not there are people who wouldn't consider themselves racist but (and there's always a "but"), what about all them darkies/poles/asylum seekers comin' over 'ere and taking all our jobs.....

If somebody moderate doesn't tackle the issues that concern them (and by his dismissal of her as a bigot Brown neatly ducks the issue and insults her at the same time), then the opportunistic fringe parties will gleefully fill the void.

Immigration policy is shoddy in the UK, there are no reliable figures to say how many people have arrived here and we can't say how many that came have now left. On top of that, if you go to Rochdale, Oldham and other North Western former mill towns, you will see a lot of non-white faces and hear a lot of foreign voices. It's hard for a lot of English-origin residents to think rationally and not equate the rise in number of immigrants to these areas and their decline in fortune, whether or not they're connected (and for the record, I think mass immigration to these places is a symptom of their decline - cheaper housing - than a cause).
posted by Markb at 8:25 AM on April 28, 2010


People calling other people spades is what causes all this rubbish to begin with.
posted by Jimbob at 10:00 AM on April 28 [4 favorites +] [!]


Assuming you're serious, that's not true.

Netx up: How my nan wasn't racist when she used to talk about "them darkies".

Well, they are pretty dark, and some white folks can get awfully tan if they try, so it's not like "darkies" are a separate race, and even if they were, she didn't actually come out and say "Darkies are inherently inferior to regular folks who already live here," did she? No? So see? Plenty of wiggle room. Dear ol' Nan wasn't a bit racist at all.
posted by Amanojaku at 8:27 AM on April 28, 2010


Okay, I'm an ignorant American, but does it matter that Brown is done, assuming that he is? I thought Brits voted for the party/MP and not for the PM.

We do. But because you only vote for your local MP, the motivation for voting for a particular candidate/party as your MP is partly how the individual candidate reflects your local requirements and partly how much the party (and therefore its leader) they're in reflects your national aspirations and political leaning.

If you look at the conservative election posters in our town most are attack ads with big pictures of Brown, to reinforce the link between locally-effective and popular Labour incumbent MP and the unpopular national party and leader. In areas with incumbent conservative MPs the posters are predominantly of the conservative leader. I've heard it said that putting up pictures of Brown in conservative areas is actually counter-productive since his massive personal unpopularity actually discourages anyone from voting at all.
posted by cromagnon at 8:28 AM on April 28, 2010 [1 favorite]


Here's another b3ta joke, in the form of a handy "who to vote for" flow-chart.
posted by handee at 8:36 AM on April 28, 2010 [6 favorites]


Gordon Brown is no Barack Obama on the campaign trail, that's for sure.

This woman seems to be the same kind of working-class type as Joe the Plumber, frustrated by the perceived lack of governmental support for people she considers to be like herself. She may or may not be correct in her assessment, but that's beside the point now.

See, where Obama disarmed Joe the Plumber, more or less, by a studied command of the facts and an easygoing style, Gordon Brown fumbled and stumbled and couldn't find the conversational path.

He's right about one thing -- this was a disaster for him. And now it's worse because he booted a grounder with the bigot comment, regardless of its accuracy, because he appears at best to be dismissive boob that can't win over John Q. Britain.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 8:37 AM on April 28, 2010 [1 favorite]


Two of the weirder things about the BNP broadcast were how many WW II references there were in it - pictures of Churchill in the background of shots, the voiceover talking about how that generation hadn't sacrificed for multiculturalism, etc., and the repeated calls to bring the troops home from Afghanistan now, which in the US is a lefty thing.

Oh, and the Sikh gentleman talking about how the BNP were alright by him, they weren't against anyone - they were for themselves!
posted by rtha at 8:42 AM on April 28, 2010


I see a politician trying to get a bully to listen to what he's saying. I don't love Gordon Brown particularly, but that woman was not interested in talking to him. She was interested in pissing and moaning about everything she could think of. And she sounded like a bigot to me too.
posted by rusty at 8:43 AM on April 28, 2010


i wasn't aware being a bigot was a bad thing. who knew? gee, i musta missed that class in school.

Poe's Law in action.
posted by dirigibleman at 8:45 AM on April 28, 2010 [2 favorites]


I'm just impressed that he spent that long with one person.

I've no idea if that's normal for these sort of things over there, but over here in the U.S., it's usually a handshake, a nod and a platitude before it's off to the car.
posted by madajb at 8:46 AM on April 28, 2010


Vote for me, you ignorant racist scum.
posted by Phanx at 8:51 AM on April 28, 2010


Markb: If somebody moderate doesn't tackle the issues that concern them (and by his dismissal of her as a bigot Brown neatly ducks the issue and insults her at the same time), then the opportunistic fringe parties will gleefully fill the void.

I think, to be honest, that this is the real sticking point. You were right when you said about people – especially in areas like Rochdale, Oldham, the NW in general (and the same applies to lots of Yorkshire, I think) where this is a big deal – not necessarily thinking rationally when it comes to immigration. So it's going to be difficult for an actual moderate to tackle the immigration issues that concern these folk, when they don't have a clear idea of actual facts, only a mish-mash of preconceptions and prejudices which don't line up with reality but provide them comfort when they look around and think everything's gone to the dogs. So facts end up countered by anecdata about job-thieving Bulgarians, or what have you.

There's also the fact that any politician who, in public, proposed a genuinely moderate position on immigration – one backed by facts and data and all that jazz – would be absolutely ripped to shreds by the likes of the Mail and the Express, who, of course, gain enormous mileage out of fanning the flames on this stuff and then denying that they're doing the likes of the BNP a favour. (Indeed, look at how the Mail is going after Clegg and the Lib Dems, whose immigration policy involves an amnesty.) Hence even the politicians who start out as moderates on immigration have to toughen and toughen their stance and language until they're part of the frothing, unless they want to be painted as the kind of unpatriotic scum who want Polish labourers to run the country.
posted by Len at 8:55 AM on April 28, 2010 [3 favorites]


anniecat: "enslave immigrants or outlaw headscarves or deport Jews."

I'm not a fan of a ban on articles of clothing, but one of these things is not like the others.
posted by Joakim Ziegler at 8:58 AM on April 28, 2010 [1 favorite]


Two of the weirder things about the BNP broadcast were how many WW II references there were in it

Indeed. Sitting in front of a framed photo of Churchill and a row of medals, with a Hitler hairdo and an anti-immigrant message is a pretty special show of thickness. Unfortunately, as others have noted, it pushes the right buttons for some people who are disillusioned for a whole range of reasons and have seen The Dam Busters.
posted by penguin pie at 9:01 AM on April 28, 2010 [2 favorites]


The fact that this woman's idea of Eastern Europeans was in the same league as Hitler's

I didn't mean to imply that she was targeting them for extermination like Hitler, but rather that she was talking about Eastern Europeans in such a way as to characterize them as a some sort of monolithic bloc to be considered by virture of their place of origin (and thus, in this case, by virtue of their ethnicity) rather than anything else. In that sense, as Hitler would have done.

Much of Eastern Europe has been flooded with British citizens - cities like Prague, Budapest, Bucharest, Krakow and others. There are downsides. In many cases, these Brits are incredibly boorish and rude and fail to learn anything of the local language even after having lived there for many years. I've met many of these people myself. Through speculation, they've driven up real estate markets in many of these places which have made the cost of living for locals increase faster than wages. Yet most Eastern Europeans - many of whom (to be fair) are xenophobic and blatantly racist in many ways - tend not to make negative remarks about them, as they do - quite reasonably - weigh the pros and cons and ultimately see the benefits they derive from Brits and other "westerners" coming to their countries. Aside from an influx of money, these include less tangible things, such as a move towards a more service-oriented, less bureaucratic culture. Ticket sellers in big cities are no longer given jobs on the basis of their connections, but on their ability to speak foreign languages, for example. The red tape involved in securing a visa or starting a company has lessened, and these things are seen as a positive influence from the West.

Look at it the other way - Eastern Europeans in Britain benefit British society. As a whole, they bring with them wonderful skills and talents which they put to use, often in areas where there was a great need in Britain - plumbing and engineering and construction and many crafts. Nursing and eldercare. In many big cities, the children of these Eastern European immigrants outperform "ancestral" British kids in the same schools in nearly every subject, even including English. Britain benefits from attracting the most ambitious and open-to-risk members of other societies, who will work harder and at worse jobs, for less pay, and who will promote a decent education for their children more intensely than many long-standing citizens. Give me a hard-working and ambitious immigrant over a shiftless whiny (and typically under-educated) racist skinhead any day, when the health of my country is at stake.

So yeah, I don't have any problem seeing this woman's remarks as foolish and fundamentally racist and devoid of any common sense. She may not be in Hitler's league, but the fact that she's willing to make dismissive statements about people based on their place of origin, and apparently without looking at the big picture, well, that all smells Nazi-like enough that I wouldn't want to get near it.
posted by Dee Xtrovert at 9:01 AM on April 28, 2010 [26 favorites]


Len, I never said it would be easy (and I didn't offer any solutions either, you'll notice), but ignoring it and hoping it might go away hasn't been a roaring success either.
posted by Markb at 9:02 AM on April 28, 2010


Markb: “If somebody moderate doesn't tackle the issues that concern them (and by his dismissal of her as a bigot Brown neatly ducks the issue and insults her at the same time), then the opportunistic fringe parties will gleefully fill the void.”

I don't think it was a dismissal. After all, he doesn't actually say she's a bigot. He says: "She's just sort of a bigot." He's describing how he feels about the root of her feelings, and I think he's right. And as harsh as it may sound to say she's bigoted, it's more of a statement of fact in Brown's mouth than a dismissal. It's a gaffe because Gordon Brown certain wouldn't call voters bigoted, even if they are; and the role of a leader ought to be to lead people away from that sort of thing. The fact that people tend to be offended by the word means that it reads like an insult on paper, but that's clearly not what it was, at least to my ears. It was a statement of fact about where he felt her feelings sprang from.
posted by koeselitz at 9:14 AM on April 28, 2010


Amanojaku

True or not, it's prudent to be niggardly with idioms and language that might give the impression of racial insensitivity.
posted by The Confessor at 9:17 AM on April 28, 2010 [4 favorites]


(And actually, he said "She was just a sort of a bigoted woman," so it's frankly even more distinct, I think.)
posted by koeselitz at 9:19 AM on April 28, 2010


Markb – yeah, to be honest I don't really know what to do either. I mean, I know what I'd like to do, but I don't think any sort of proposal I'd make would be swallowed by more than a handful of old lefties.

So no, it's not going to be easy. But I'd also say that "ignoring it and hoping it might go away" isn't exactly been what's going on either – in the sense that so many politicians feel compelled to outdo each other in their "tough" language on immigration.
posted by Len at 9:20 AM on April 28, 2010


Here's another b3ta joke, in the form of a handy "who to vote for" flow-chart.

Oh great, another UK voting guide that tells me I should vote UKIP.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 9:22 AM on April 28, 2010 [3 favorites]


> "Much of Eastern Europe has been flooded with British citizens - cities like Prague, Budapest, Bucharest, Krakow and others. There are downsides. In many cases, these Brits are incredibly boorish and rude and fail to learn anything of the local language even after having lived there for many years. "

I am sick to the back teeth of British people (I am one, and I am also an expat) being overwhelmingly xenophobic, when we've been rampaging around the world like we own the place for well over a century. India, the US, Spain, Australia, the Czech Republic, Canada. The list is endless, we always seem to be somewhere that's not the place we were born and we're nearly always posting nasty little comments on the internet about how we left the UK because it "wasn't our country any more". We need a serious kick up the backside in regards to our place in the world around us and how we've benefited off the backs of others. The UK is ground zero of white privilege, and it wouldn't do us any harm to eat a slice of humble pie when it comes to this issue.

I have a theory that it's because we're fed 5+ years of history education about WWII (outsiders attacking us) but nothing about the British Empire (us doing over others) at school.

I want more people like this being called out for their nasty little attitudes towards "foreigners" (hello, we're in the European Union, if we can go to them, they can come to us), and it's a damned shame Brown was so unthinking and rude in the way he voiced his opposition to what she said (someone mentioned McCain further up, and he definitely handled that situation better than Brown did on this). Having said that, it's good to know that while he's a shit politician that doesn't have the spine to bite his tongue and say he was wrong about the war, he's still somewhat of a good man on the inside.

Er, this is a bit ranty, not trying to tar everyone with the same brush here, honest.
posted by saturnine at 9:27 AM on April 28, 2010 [12 favorites]


Dear ol' Nan wasn't a bit racist at all.

This Nan, though...
posted by bitter-girl.com at 9:34 AM on April 28, 2010 [1 favorite]


I see a politician trying to get a bully to listen to what he's saying. I don't love Gordon Brown particularly, but that woman was not interested in talking to him. She was interested in pissing and moaning about everything she could think of. And she sounded like a bigot to me too.

Gillian Duffy's first problem is that she's ignorant; her second is that seemingly she has zero interest in rectifying the first problem.

It's hard to pick a side here though. After reading the transcript, I have some sympathy for Brown's reaction when he gets into the car. Still, it's going to make any further conversations with the voters all kinds of awkward. Then his scrambling around in response to the gaff is marked by his usual artlessness.

I feel for Mrs Duffy, too. She's in way over her head here, in more ways than one. She sounds kind of bewildered in the Sky interview, even pausing to take a phone call in the middle of it all. No doubt this will be replayed many, many times over the next few days, and the more serious bigots in UKIP and the BNP will hold her up as an of exemplar of the great white ignored. And, seriously, who would want that thrust upon them?

My take: everybody loses. Except maybe the media! (And people who post on blogs).
posted by Life at Boulton Wynfevers at 9:36 AM on April 28, 2010


Poor Gordie, always check your mics.
posted by klangklangston at 9:36 AM on April 28, 2010


koeselitz - with respect, semantics matter little in all this, the people (like this woman) who feel let down by Labour will only ever feel even more let down.

Len - I'd say up until the election campaigning in earnest there was a tendency to shout down or sideline concern about immigration, but that won't make people who view immigrants with suspicion feel any more reassured. It has to be tackled head on, but politicians are torn between the right thing to do and what wins them easy votes.
posted by Markb at 9:37 AM on April 28, 2010


We would never have seen this kind of behaviour from Blair. In fact, I remember that famous moment when he came face to face with a racist old lady, and instead of dismissing her views out of hand, he sat down with her, and said: 'I really admire your policies, Baroness Thatcher.'
posted by RokkitNite at 9:41 AM on April 28, 2010 [25 favorites]


Markb: It has to be tackled head on, but politicians are torn between the right thing to do and what wins them easy votes.

Bingo! And sadly, I don't see it changing any time soon ...
posted by Len at 9:41 AM on April 28, 2010


Markb: “koeselitz - with respect, semantics matter little in all this, the people (like this woman) who feel let down by Labour will only ever feel even more let down.”

Oh, absolutely - I agree. I only wanted to point out that Brown himself wasn't being dismissive. That only matters in the context of what sort of person he is - but at this point, it certainly doesn't make much of a difference to the situation. I don't think you can explain to most people on the street the nuance of what was said. To everybody else - including the woman he'd been talking to - it was just a simple case of him calling someone a bigot.
posted by koeselitz at 9:43 AM on April 28, 2010


And to think, it used only to be the moderate right wing politicians who had to worry about their bigoted voters.

Progress huh?
posted by Markb at 9:47 AM on April 28, 2010


He didn't accidentally call her a bigot. He intentionally did so. The accident was getting caught saying it into a broadcasting/recording device.
posted by asfuller at 9:53 AM on April 28, 2010


I loved the bit in the shitty, shitty fucking bastard BNP* advert where they told me how are grandparents fought for us during the war to stop them dirty horrible immigrants. It was around that time I thought about all those dirty horrible Yanks who came over and gave our grandmothers something to think about for three odd years whilst my Grandpa was in Africa. I like to think about the dirty horrible immigrants from New Zealand and Australia and India who served alongside him in Africa, Italy and alongside his compatriots in Western Europe and the Far East.

I stand ramrod straight, saluting, as I remember the Nepalese Ghurkas who fought for us, despite our rampant imperialism and general terrible treatment of those dirty horrible subhumans when it bloody well suited us and I give a small cheer when I think about all those other dirty horrible immigrants who came to England to help us rebuild in the 50s and 60s.

This woman is a fucking silly bigot and I have had it up to here arguing with wankers trying to make them understand about why immigration is necessary, required, inevitable and a good thing for everyone. Thus far the only issue I have heard is "they come over here and don't work". Well fuck-diddly-umptious. We have 2.5-3 million unemployed who were born here and aren't interested in working and have not done so for three generations! Who gives a crap if there are 50,000 temporary dole Poles?

My boss is an immigrant from the West Indies - she's fucking awesome - the three lasses sitting around me are from Pakistan (one generation removed) and I love them. It's a lack of exposure to different cultures and just sheer bloody ignorance that leads to ignorance and it drives me up the wall. It's the stupidest attitude in the world.

In summary : GRAR ignorance. Hurry up and die out you racist bastards.



*Oh dear Christ how I hate them with such an overwhelming passion. Fuck you again BNP. May the Marmite gods smite the overloving crap out of you, you small-minded fuckers.
posted by longbaugh at 9:58 AM on April 28, 2010 [21 favorites]


I'm not a fan of a ban on articles of clothing, but one of these things is not like the others.

Obviously I was talking about Muslim women not being able to meet their cultural and religious requirements. It's not like banning jeans.
posted by anniecat at 10:02 AM on April 28, 2010 [3 favorites]


Brown was correct both morally and economically. England's biggest economic threat right now is foreign workers who get tired of the shitty pound and insane cost of living, convert their savings into Euros, and return home. Rents and house prices fall, labor costs increase, available British workers are less qualified and alcoholic, etc. Brown's comments may actually have been all about international relations and economics, but they're also morally correct.
posted by jeffburdges at 10:03 AM on April 28, 2010


longbaugh: Thus far the only issue I have heard is "they come over here and don't work"

Yeah, this always puzzled me about the anti-immigration zealots. Those crafty immigrants, coming over here, and somehow stealing our jobs and scrounging our benefits by not working, all at the same time!
posted by Len at 10:07 AM on April 28, 2010 [7 favorites]


My opinion of Brown went up several notches when I heard the interview.

The woman he was talking to is a vile racist bigot. And while calling her on it in the middle of an election campaign with the BNP on the sidelines would be unwise, his scathing description of her -- once he thought he was off-air -- shows a human side to his personality that's normally less than visible.

(Me? I'd have ripped her a new arsehole live on TV. But I'm no politician.)
posted by cstross at 10:16 AM on April 28, 2010 [5 favorites]


I think this is a big fuckin' deal.
posted by Mister_A at 10:35 AM on April 28, 2010


Given the poll shifts in the last 24 hours, and with him bringing immigration to the fore, I think Gordon Brown just handed the election to the Tories.

LibDem's most controversial point is their immigration amnesty plan. Now, Brown's just told off older Labour voters, who hate Easter Europeans -- and did so in a way to ensure that this stays front-and-center for at least 24 hours. Given that the election is in one week, that means at least 1/7th, and probably 2/7ths, of the remaining time before the election is going to be talking immigration.

If Clegg is lucky, they'll vote BNP, but they'll probably vote Conservative, and instead of those seats swinging from Labour to LibDem, they're going to swing Labour to Tory, and Cameron is going to squeak in with a thin, but real, majority of MPs, instead of the hung parliament that might have let LibDem force election reform as the price of their joining the governing coalition.

I didn't think Gordon Brown could fuck the UK any hard. Alas, I was wrong.
posted by eriko at 10:44 AM on April 28, 2010 [3 favorites]


God, I hope you're wrong.

/returns to pit of despair regarding UK politics just in case.
posted by Artw at 11:06 AM on April 28, 2010


Why even bother writing political comedy anymore? If you stuck all that in The Thick of It word for word, it would fit perfectly, yet it's over 9,000 times funnier in reality. In fairness, I'm an American, so I'm not quite so bothered by the "we're all screwed" angle here in terms of how this influences the election, but really, just wow. Truth is stranger than fiction...
posted by zachlipton at 11:07 AM on April 28, 2010


God, I hope you're wrong.

God, I hope I'm wrong as well....
posted by eriko at 11:12 AM on April 28, 2010


Really not certain you are, I'm afraid.
posted by Artw at 11:22 AM on April 28, 2010


I dunno, the Tories were only looking at a razor-thin majority at best before Nick Clegg's surge, which has held largely steady. UK Polling Report is currently predicting a Tory shortfall of 61 seats, and I'd be surprised if they could make up that much ground in so little time, especially with possibly the biggest of the debates coming up tomorrow night.

Things could undoubtedly turn around rapidly, but I'm seeing this as more of a bad thing for Labour than as a good thing for the Conservatives.
posted by ZsigE at 11:38 AM on April 28, 2010


We have 2.5-3 million unemployed who were born here and aren't interested in working and have not done so for three generations!
Christ. Listen to yourself. If this is what you genuinely think, you're as much part of the problem as the racists.
posted by Abiezer at 11:42 AM on April 28, 2010


There is hope. David Cameron might offend the Tory base by accidentally suggesting that one of them isn't a bigot.
posted by koeselitz at 11:45 AM on April 28, 2010 [3 favorites]


'Bigot' gaffe damages the Lib Dems, too
posted by Artw at 11:48 AM on April 28, 2010


from transcript

Sky Reporter: Mrs Duffy, is that somebody calling to tell you you’re live on Sky News?

Mrs Duffy: No, it’s Lucy or someone.
posted by memebake at 11:48 AM on April 28, 2010


It's apropos of nothing really, but I just can't help wondering why it is that seemingly every civilized nation in which Rupert Murdoch controls a significant share of the major media suddenly finds itself grappling with intractable political issues concerning immigration.
posted by saulgoodman at 11:52 AM on April 28, 2010 [3 favorites]


Definately if you are a bigot you should vote for UKIP, it's practically their platform.

Quite. If you're paranoid, racist and angry enough to stab someone, then the BNP's your party. If you're paranoid, racist and angry just enough to bore people endlessly in the pub, then UKIP's the one for you.
posted by reynir at 11:55 AM on April 28, 2010 [2 favorites]


Now, Brown's just told off older Labour voters, who hate Easter Europeans

In the US we call them "Bunny-Americans".
posted by Pope Guilty at 11:57 AM on April 28, 2010 [10 favorites]


What we needed 12 months ago was the return of Spitting Image. That show did more for political discussion in this country during the Thatcher/Reagan and Major/Bush eta than virtually anything else has done. Simply put most people are fucking dumb and aren't interested in politics - if you can wrap politics up in a comedy show with sweary puppets then people might pay attention.

Also - professional fat racist fuck Nick fucking Griffin could have his fat wobbly jowls laughed at by millions*.


*yes racism offends and angers me, particularly Nick Fucking Griffin who I would fight and kill barehanded in an arena given the choice. Sorry for the swears.
posted by longbaugh at 12:00 PM on April 28, 2010 [1 favorite]


(the "Definately...platform" bit above should be in italics, artw's words not mine, sorry).

The biggest failing of Brown in all this is not what he said. It's that such emphasis has been placed by all parties in this election on getting out there and meeting the people, and now the curtain has been swished back to show a little man frantically calling for his aides to stage manage things so he never has to speak to a random person again.

He won't be alone in that, of course, but he's the sucker who got caught.
posted by reynir at 12:02 PM on April 28, 2010


Speaking of Rupert, The Sun's paid Mrs Duffy £50,000 for an exclusive interview in tomorrow's paper.

No matter what she says, Brown's not going to come off looking good. Thanks, Uncle Rupert. You know best, as always.
posted by tapeguy at 12:05 PM on April 28, 2010


Also - on preview I'd like to apologise to Abiezer and anyone else who read what I wrote initially - I was not meaning that conflate every one of those unemployed folks with those who are deliberately shirking work. We do however have 3rd generation unemployed who know more about the rules for claiming benefits than most civil servants. I'd be shocked if the lazy shit:immigrant ratio is anything less than 10:1 though.
posted by longbaugh at 12:50 PM on April 28, 2010


'Bigot' jibe exposes disconnect between politicians and voters
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 12:53 PM on April 28, 2010 [2 favorites]


If its true that Mrs Duffy has accepted £50,000 to give The Sun an exclusive, then the plot might be about to thicken somewhat. Its possible that some other UK papers may paint her in a less positive light now (its happened before when they've been miffed about an exclusive going to a competitor).

Also, John Prescott weighs in:

"What Murdoch's Sky News did today was just as bad as his paper's phone-hacking. It was a breach of privacy. It was underhand. And it was done in the pursuit of ratings and political influence."
posted by memebake at 1:00 PM on April 28, 2010 [2 favorites]


"What Murdoch's Sky News did today was just as bad as his paper's phone-hacking. It was a breach of privacy. It was underhand. And it was done in the pursuit of ratings and political influence."

I'm no fan of Murdoch, but I'm not really sure what he did that was wrong here. A mike was still turned on, and they heard a candidate say something of interest to the voters. It's news. It's not like before where Murdoch was bugging people or tapping their phones or anything. If you talk into an open mike and say something newsworthy, you can't expect that the media won't report it because you didn't mean for people to hear.
posted by unreason at 2:00 PM on April 28, 2010


The woman he was talking to is a vile racist bigot.

really? i've been on more anti-racist marches than i've had hot dinners but in the last three or four years the influx of eastern europeans (which is what the 'vile, racist bigot' was referring to) willing and able to undercut the indigenous workforce (particularly in the building trade etc) has become a real issue for a lot of people in the uk. this make right on guardian reading types like me uncomfortable, but to accuse anyone who wants to ask reasonable questions about these issues as racists or bigots is i think at best, a cheap shot and at worst, similar to the kind of kneejerk bullshit that the BNP thrives on. and i'm surprised that Brown wanted to take such a cheap shot at someone who'd supported his party for so long. i'd always had a soft spot for Gordon, but no longer, and his apology rings very very hollow.
posted by peterkins at 2:39 PM on April 28, 2010 [1 favorite]


UK politics thread?

Better post this then.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 2:40 PM on April 28, 2010 [9 favorites]


What the media did wrong was not broadcasting Brown's conversation (even if the decision to broadcast was a bit shitty, his aides should have noticed that he was still wearing the microphone), but it was in exploiting that woman after the event.

I saw the interview where they told her what Brown had said, and it was some of the most exploitative television I have ever seen. I feel slightly ill about it all, and am deeply unimpressed with the reporting of this today.

I'm glad to know Brown actually thinks immigration is a good thing, I just wish he would come out and say it loudly and publicly.

The BNP/UKIP/Tories and the media need to be challenged on the ridiculous myth that immigration is a bad thing for the UK, it's just unfortunate that nobody has really taken up that banner.
posted by knapah at 2:43 PM on April 28, 2010 [1 favorite]


in the last three or four years the influx of eastern europeans (which is what the 'vile, racist bigot' was referring to) willing and able to undercut the indigenous workforce (particularly in the building trade etc) has become a real issue for a lot of people in the uk.

So how do you suppose we'd have felt had the Germans started bitching about gangs from Liverpool, Newcastle, etc. flooding into their towns and undercutting the wage rates of their indigenous workforce back in the 70's and 80's?

If they'd started bitching about our lot going over there, the very same people who are now bitching about eastern european immigrants would have been going on about how we won the war, and we're all in Europe together now.

Sauce for the goose, etc.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 2:45 PM on April 28, 2010 [2 favorites]


peterkins, I'm not a Labour supporter, but I suspect that Brown fields so many immigration questions that border on racism that when he gets someone commenting on immigration during a stressful situation (on national tv) it is fairly natural for 'oh shit another bigoted question/statement' coming into his head.

I know that I immediately question if someone is a racist when they start moaning about immigrants. Sometimes they are, sometimes they aren't... mostly they're just ignorant of the real benefits that immigrants bring to the UK.

The problem is that no mainstream party is strongly making the case against the anti-immigrant narrative peddled by the media and the right-wing parties, and it is unfortunately playing very well in deprived communities that would have once been solidly Labour.
posted by knapah at 2:47 PM on April 28, 2010


The Sun's paid Mrs Duffy £50,000 for an exclusive interview in tomorrow's paper.
Incredibly, they've shelved it; the results weren't interesting enough, apparently.
posted by bonaldi at 2:58 PM on April 28, 2010 [2 favorites]


The Sun's paid Mrs Duffy £50,000 for an exclusive interview in tomorrow's paper.
Incredibly, they've shelved it; the results weren't interesting enough, apparently.


Not bigoted enough for your soaraway Sun, eh?
posted by chavenet at 3:15 PM on April 28, 2010


So how do you suppose we'd have felt had the Germans started bitching about gangs from Liverpool, Newcastle, etc. flooding into their towns and undercutting the wage rates of their indigenous workforce back in the 70's and 80's?

i'm not sure how we'd have felt, but i would have thought that would be entirely reasonable. and maybe they did 'bitch' about it, i don't know (my only reference for that would be auf weidersehn pet)

I suspect that Brown fields so many immigration questions that border on racism that when he gets someone commenting on immigration during a stressful situation (on national tv) it is fairly natural for 'oh shit another bigoted question/statement' coming into his head.

i think you're probably right. the issue is such a hot potato. it's hard to have a reasonable conversation about it. i've just listened to some proper vile racist bigotry in some vox pops on radio 4 (the usual 'they come over here and get council houses - we should get them cos we live here' shit; there's plenty of it about. i'm just not sure that this woman was one of them. and i agree - the more the main political parties refuse to engage properly on the positive aspects of immigration, the more screwed up things are going to get.
posted by peterkins at 3:21 PM on April 28, 2010


It's a stupidly hot potato too: people are only against it because the Mail has them thinking there are hordes approaching. When you show such people the figures, they're usually all "Wait, 54m out of a population of 58m are white? Really? Hm".

But hardly any of the parties are trying to put that message across. That's why there are so many people being surprised that VoteMatch and sites like it are suggesting they vote Green. But when the questions are like:

Q: Where do you stand on immigration?

1. They should all be hung

2. They should be shot, and then hung

3. Our borders must be tightened, with a special police force that has hanging and shooting powers

4. Deported if they're criminals, shot if they're not

5. Legal immigrants should be helped to find useful places in the community so that trained doctors aren't working as minicab drivers; refugees should be given support to help restart their lives.

it's hardly surprising, is it? If you're actually pro-immigration, none of the mainstream parties have a policy to suit you -- how could they, when the Mail/Sun/Telegraph/Express coven would have their eyes out?

They say that newspapers will be going belly-up soon; can't happen soon enough to that four.
posted by bonaldi at 3:48 PM on April 28, 2010 [3 favorites]


Why didn't Brown just back himself in this situation? Something like - "yes, it's unfortunate that a private remark was made public, but I stand by my comments". And then move on.

Instead he tries to retract the comments, claims misunderstanding, ... in doing so he appears to have no conviction in his own beliefs, a political lightweight who is pushed around by a little old lady. Meanwhile everybody, including the woman he apologises to, knows his private comments were sincere, and his public apology was not.

We all know politicians are insincere, but not smart of him to demonstrate this so dramatically right before the election. I think this insincerity is going to be the real problem for him that comes out of this incident, not the bigotry/immigration stance.
posted by joz at 4:26 PM on April 28, 2010 [2 favorites]


The Sun's paid Mrs Duffy £50,000 for an exclusive interview in tomorrow's paper.
bonaldi: Incredibly, they've shelved it; the results weren't interesting enough, apparently.


Do you have a source you could link to? That is interesting. She kept too closely to the "I'm still going to vote Labour" line, presumably. I'm sure the interviewers did their best to get something more interesting out of her too. Wonder if she'll still get the money?
posted by memebake at 4:41 PM on April 28, 2010


i'm not sure how we'd have felt, but i would have thought that would be entirely reasonable.

My point was really that the British have been happy to send migrant labour all around the world for the last 100 years or so, and what's been happening with Eastern European builders is no different to what British builders did when wages were lower here than they were in other parts of Europe during the 1970s and 1980's.

I'm not sure why anyone would think it's acceptable for us to do that when it suits us to do so, yet insist that we must close our borders to the other nationalities of a free trade bloc when other countries pay lower wages than we do?

It seems to me to be precisely typical of the kind of hypocritical nationalism and xenophobia (ie, we civilized British should be able to sell our labour freely abroad, but fuck those foreigners who would seek to do exactly the same thing over here) that characterises the bigot.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 4:43 PM on April 28, 2010 [3 favorites]


joz: Why didn't Brown just back himself in this situation? Something like - "yes, it's unfortunate that a private remark was made public, but I stand by my comments". And then move on.

Christ, if you think the shitstorm Brown's currently drowning in over this isn't bad enough, can you imagine how the Mail/Express/Sun/Telegraph would spin Brown standing by his comments?

Daily Mail
April 29th 2010
BROWN WON'T BACK DOWN: HE SAYS WE ARE ALL BIGOTS
In a shocking move last night, Gordon Brown confirmed that he thinks the majority of the British electorate are bigots. "I stand by my comments," he said last night, insulting millions of grandmothers who worked with disabled children – just like Gillian Duffy – and showing his naked contempt for anyone worried about immigrants affecting house prices.

Daily Express
April 29th 2010
BROWN IN LEAGUE WITH DODI
Gordon Brown last night aligned himself with alleged Diana-murderer Dodi al-Fayed, backing the rights of smelly foreigners over genuine Englishwomen like Princess Diana and Rochdale grandmother Gillian Duffy, saying that anyone not demanding their wife wear a burqa was still a bigot.

The Sun
April 29th 2010
PHWOOAAAAR! GORDO BI-GOT IT WRONG!
Gorgeous Katie, 22, from Rochdale, says that Gordon Brown's bigot slur shows his disgust with ordinary Brits. "It's just not fair. I mean, all these Polish and Hungarian models, with their beautiful cheekbones and pert boobs, they come over here and push us out of the page 3 market."

The Daily Telegraph
April 29th 2010
WAS YOUR GRANNY A NAZI?
Telegraph online poll: Gordon Brown yesterday called a Rochdale grandmother a bigot. Your granny fought the Nazis in the war, and single-handedly took down three Junkers bombers in the Battle of Britain, and later welcomed the nice brown people who run the corner shop at the end of her road, so long as they remembered to speak English when she was buying her jar of Princes fish paste. Now Gordon Brown says she's a frightful racist who hates Johnny Foreigner. Is she a bigot for standing up for traditional Tunbridge Wells values?
Vote now: NO [ ] or NO [ ]
posted by Len at 5:07 PM on April 28, 2010 [19 favorites]


bonaldi: "Incredibly, they've shelved it; the results weren't interesting enough, apparently."

Where did you get this?
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane at 5:11 PM on April 28, 2010


BBC's Nick Robinson said so earlier (it's not linked on the ol' internet yet, apart from a few mentions on Twitter)
posted by bonaldi at 5:36 PM on April 28, 2010


Ok, thanks.
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane at 5:57 PM on April 28, 2010


In America we consider people of Spanish descent to be a separate, non-white race, and we used to consider the Irish a separate, non-white race.
posted by dirigibleman at 9:57 AM on April 28


Well sure, but remember we're crazy as fuck in this country.
posted by nola at 7:33 PM on April 28, 2010 [1 favorite]


Meh...I don't think she's bigoted, just that she buys into old-fashioned economic protectionism, like a lot of socialists do. I'm always hearing people on the left in this country grumble about our trade with China or call for tariffs on all imports, in the belief that this will save American jobs which were farmed out to cheaper workers in other nations.

A lot of people, perhaps most of them, buy into the lump of labor fallacy, and assume that a job lost to a competitor from another country (over here or over there) is one less job vacancy, and that's that. They don't get that that the competitor's economic activity may factor into the creation of a new job that didn't exist before, but assume there are only so many jobs to go round and many of them are being taken - along with other things like rental housing, of which they also assume there is a more or less fixed supply - by people with whom they never had to compete before.

This isn't bigotry or racism. It's simple economic ignorance, compounded by years of politicians claiming to 'create jobs' as if they something pumped out by a special machine stored in the basement of No. 10 that only the chancellor and the PM are allowed to operate. Party Political Broadcasts and other platforms like Question Time give British politicians a unique opportunity to explain their economic ideas to the public, but the majority of them don't bother, out of fear that voters' eyes will glaze over if they attempt to have a serious chat about economics.

If it wasn't for all them poxy satellite TV channels and foreign newspaper magnates filling people's head with their silly chatter we'd have some proper macroeconomic analysis, know what I mean? I had that John Maynard Keynes in the back of me cab once, lovely gent he was. Gave me a two quid tip for a spin to Morning Crescent, he did...
posted by anigbrowl at 7:35 PM on April 28, 2010 [1 favorite]


Mornington. Dammit.
posted by anigbrowl at 7:36 PM on April 28, 2010


On sober reflection, I now feel the most offensive thing Mrs Duffy said was that she liked Tony Blair.
posted by Abiezer at 10:55 PM on April 28, 2010 [3 favorites]


Also, longbaugh - reacted strongly there because I get frustrated that people who can see through the lies told about immigrants can't see that there are also lies being told about people on benefits and the unemployed - I mean, there also really are gypsies who have thieved, immigrants from East Europe who have killed swans in the park or young Somalian men who have committed acts of violence, but that doesn't mean the incessant harping on such memes in the press is a true reflection of the situation. Likewise with the idea of the feckless indigenous poor.
posted by Abiezer at 11:14 PM on April 28, 2010


Wait ... if The Sun paid Mrs Duffy for an exclusive interview and then didn't print it, perhaps they meant to buy her silence. She can't give interviews to anyone else now, which prevents a big splash along the lines of "What Gordon said and why I'm still voting Labour" in The Mirror or somewhere.
posted by memebake at 11:19 PM on April 28, 2010


she buys into old-fashioned economic protectionism, like a lot of socialists do.

You literally have not the first idea of what you're talking about.
posted by Pope Guilty at 11:24 PM on April 28, 2010


Q: Where do you stand on immigration?
1. They should all be hung


We can't all be hung.
posted by Jon-A-Thon at 12:33 AM on April 29, 2010 [1 favorite]


We can't all be hung.

Wait until we get people prepared to work for a ropemaker's wage, then you're fscked.
posted by vbfg at 1:41 AM on April 29, 2010


to the tune of Eleanor Rigsby

Gillian Duffy. Lives near a seat with a majority
Labour can't hold. Was no-one told.
Priminister Gordon. Had to go there to talk to
the people he found. And here's what he found.

All those Polish People.
Where do they all come from?

Gillian Duffy. Buying her bread from the
shop near her road. She's really old.
Priminister Gordon. Not media Savvy.
His foot's near his mouth and his
enemies know this. They're getting bold.

All those Slavic People.
Where do they all come from?

Gillian Duffy. Worried about all
of those strange looking people
that clutter her streets. look at her bleat.
Priminister Gordon. Says what he can
and retires to his car to complain.
What can he say?

All those Russian People.
Where do they all come from?

All those Bigoted People.
Where do they all come from?
posted by seanyboy at 3:07 AM on April 29, 2010 [7 favorites]


Wait until we get people prepared to work for a ropemaker's wage, then you're fscked.

...I didn't say "We can't all be hanged"...
posted by Jon-A-Thon at 4:16 AM on April 29, 2010


Ah right, I see what you men. Stupid language.
posted by vbfg at 6:47 AM on April 29, 2010


And looking at the polls, it seems it will all indeed be a storm in a teacup.
posted by Abiezer at 11:26 AM on April 29, 2010 [1 favorite]


Screen capture from the BBC debate
posted by Artw at 1:55 PM on April 29, 2010


Someone on a thread elsewhere said 'worst gym treadmill session ever' to that one.
posted by Abiezer at 2:10 PM on April 29, 2010 [2 favorites]


TV debate: a cross between Songs of Praise and Over the Rainbow
posted by Artw at 4:34 PM on April 29, 2010 [1 favorite]


Gordon Brown makes scathing attack on 'TV gameshow host' Nick Clegg
posted by homunculus at 12:11 AM on May 2, 2010


Nick Clegg: My hero Samuel Beckett
posted by homunculus at 12:12 AM on May 2, 2010


At least Gordon Brown's act is almost admirably crap – you can see something awkwardly human beneath
posted by Artw at 1:15 PM on May 3, 2010


Gordon Brown made a really passionate speech on Monday that hasn't been picked up by the media much.

You can tell he actually cares about social justice issues, and got a tremendous response from the audience.

Video is on this page at the Guardian.
posted by knapah at 3:28 AM on May 4, 2010 [1 favorite]


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