LABOUR’s re-election campaign was thrown into chaos yesterday, after the Prime Minister said an old-age pensioner was “bigoted” because she raised concerns over immigration.
Gordon Brown’s unguarded comments were picked up by a radio microphone that he forgot to remove following a televised campaign stop in Rochdale. Minutes after telling Gillian Duffy, 66, it had been “nice” to meet her, he said the encounter had been a “disaster” and described her as “some bigoted woman”.
Dismayed party strategists had been hoping tonight’s leaders’ debate on the economy would be the moment when Brown hit his stride, although the incident dubbed “bigot-gate” threatens to overshadow his performance. Yesterday, Brown was forced to rip-up his campaign schedule to make an impromptu visit to Mrs Duffy’s house, to apologise. After 39 minutes, he emerged saying he was a “penitent sinner” and that his apologies had been accepted.
When the Prime Minister first heard the exchange played in full he put his head in his hands, looking dejected and exasperated.
Today’s YouGov poll puts Labour down two points on 27 per cent, with the Lib Dems gaining three points to 31 per cent and the Tories in the lead on 34 per cent, a rise of one point.