Thursday, Dec. 09, 2010

Gordon Brown's 'Bigotgate'

Even when he was carefully choosing his words, Prime Minister Gordon Brown's grumpiness and awkwardness did not endear him to Britain's voters. Unfavorable comparisons to his predecessor, Tony Blair, were already a media staple when a remote microphone Brown forgot he was wearing produced the most widely quoted sound bite of his failed election campaign: "Bigoted woman!" Brown was responding — out of earshot, or so he thought — to an uncomfortable, unscripted encounter with Rochdale voter Gillian Duffy. "All these Eastern Europeans are coming in. Where are they flocking from?" Duffy had complained, expressing her reluctance to repeat her vote for Brown's Labour Party. Brown had responded politely, defending his party's plans to limit welfare for new immigrants, but the encounter angered him, and he expressed his true feelings once back in his car. The outburst was broadcast on national TV, and his on-air mea culpa in the media's "Bigotgate" frenzy became a symbol of the end of 13 years of Labour rule.