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Letters from London
Gordon Brown Forced to Apologise over “Bigoted Woman” Remark
By Shane Clarke
London Correspondent
Gordon Brown

Gordon Brown’s election woes continued today (Wednesday 28th April) as he was forced to apologise to a Labour voter for calling her a “bigoted woman” following a discussion on various topics including immigration and the budget deficit. The Prime Minister was campaigning in Rochdale, northern England, when pensioner Gillian Duffy confronted him.

The two apparently parted amicably, but Mr Brown’s radio mic was still switched on when he got into his car, and his comments were broadcast to the attending press.

“That was a disaster,” he was heard to say. “Whose idea was that? It’s ridiculous.”

He was then asked what Ms Duffy had said.

“Everything,” he replied, “she’s just sort of a bigoted woman.”

This was a rare gaffe on a campaign trail that has seen Mr Brown performing better than expected. His appearance on the second televised leaders’ debate did him no harm with him appearing confident and in command when he tackled the main issues, which included the budget and Britain’s Trident nuclear deterrent.

Upon hearing Mr Brown’s remarks, Ms Duffy responded, “I’m very disappointed…He is an educated man – why is he using words like that? He is going to lead this country and he’s calling an ordinary woman who has just come up and asked him questions that most people would ask him…a bigot.”

Later on, Mr Brown appeared on a radio show, where he was played a tape of his comments. He appeared mortified, holding his head in his hands.

“I apologise if I’ve said anything that has been hurtful and I will apologise to her personally,” he said.

“I was dealing with a question that she raised about immigration and I wasn’t given a chance to answer it.”

Later, Mr Brown visited Ms Duffy at her modest home in Rochdale to apologise personally. He spent more than 30 minutes with the 66-year-old grandmother before making the following statement:

“Sometimes you do make mistakes and you use wrong words, and once you’ve used that word and you’ve made a mistake, you should withdraw it and say profound apologies, and that’s what I’ve done.”

This could not have come at a worse time for the beleaguered Mr Brown. His performances on the live televised debates have seen him close the gap between Labour and Conservative in the opinion polls. Now there is a danger that his good work could be undone, and even the economy, his strongest card, may not be able to save him.



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Shane Clarke serves as London Correspondent for The Seoul Times. He has been involved in humanitarian work for numerous years. He’s also a freelance management consultant. Having completed an honors degree in Law at Wolverhampton University, he then moved on to an MBA at Warwick Business School. He’s heavily involved in the fight against international parental child abduction to Japan.

 

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