This is why we shouldn’t shy away on immigration


2:05 pm - April 28th 2010

by Sunny Hundal    


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Just some quick thoughts on what is obviously a gaffe of some epic proportions.

1. I agree with a lot of people who say (on Twitter) the problem is that Brown behaved in one way with her and then slagged her off later. That two-faced approach is what will sting people the most.

2. Was it bigoted? Don’t think she she said was bigoted per se, though if people start talking about immigrants “swamping” or “flooding” or “flocking” into the country then you have a good idea of what newspaper they read and how they stand on the issue.

3. The problem here is that it goes to the heart of how Labour has dealt with the issue of immigration. Rather than confront tabloid hysteria and try and make a positive case for immigration, the party issues platitudes and then tries to hide from the issue.

Labour should either confront the point of Eastern European immigration or stop it entirely. Instead we have this fudge, which allows the tabloids to claim that there is some big conspiracy to forcibly push immigration on them.

What Gordon Brown needs is a brave speech like Obama made after the Rev Wright’s comments came out. He needs to accept people have concerns about immigration and accept that we have a problem talking about the issue because one side is constantly in hysteria and the other not willing to take a stand on the issue.

I doubt it will happen though. Oh well.

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About the author
Sunny Hundal is editor of LC. Also: on Twitter, at Pickled Politics and Guardian CIF.
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Reader comments


No. It won’t happen. It’s too late. Brown’s toast.

Was anyone ever less suited to high office?

“What Gordon Brown needs is a brave speech like Obama…”

Indeed. I wanted this election to be about the NHS, but it seems that we are going to lose that under tghe Tories and Labour seem not to want to fight for it. This seems like a make or break moment. Brown needs to give a heart-felt speech saying justifying his position on immigration and then putting it straight: if you dislike immigrants *all immigrants* then vote for another party. But if you accept that immigrants are an important part of our country then vote for Labour. Stand and be counted.

3. Simon Pollock

Misreading of what took place. Brown describing the woman as “bigoted” was a presumption on his part, a presumption common on the liberal-left. Michael Merrick already described why Brown would use such language;

“..On issues ranging from school/parental discipline (‘child abuse’), to capital punishment (‘barbaric’), to patriotism (‘Little Englander’), to euro-scepticism (‘xenophobic’), to immigration (‘racist’), to morality (‘bigoted’) – across all these issues and more, the general beliefs of vast swathes of the electorate are demonised and ridiculed by an elite interested only in securing the dominance of their own particular worldview.
In essence, it often appears that the Labour Party has chosen to sacrifice its traditional roots in defence of a shiny new social creed it likes to call ‘liberalism’. Truth is, the cultural underpinnings of this creed, originating in the post-1968 student ‘resistance’ movements, are thoroughly middle-class, individualistic and bourgeois – and except for those that are already ‘free’, it delivers anything but ‘liberty’.”
http://www.labourlist.org/culture-clash-how-labour-can-look-to-reconnect-with-the-poor

Browns presumption is the tip of an iceberg called contempt. Contempt for the views of the people he was hired to work for.

Gordon Brown snatching defeat from the jaws of defeat.

I recommend that Sue speak to her union rep.

Why is it that the plebs are not deemed capable by the “liberal elite” of making their own minds up, based on personal experience, reason or observation, like you (ahem) educated types are, but have to copy them from tabloid newspapers ?
It’s exactly the sort of prejudice that cause Brown to make his prejudiced comments – oh look a working class, old person, they must read the daily Mail and have an irrational distrust of foreigners.

This idea that keeps being promulagated on LC that you can reliably judge people by what paper they read is like a bad joke from the 1970s (the punchline was….” and sun readers don’t care as long as they have big t**s”, btw)

@ 2 “But if you accept that immigrants are an important part of our country then vote for Labour. Stand and be counted.”

He won’ say that, for the very good reason that polls consitently show it might lose him up to 45% of voters – if they voted on that issue alone. Hence the strategy, from all main parties is to have fairly vague policies towards migration and they’d rather not mention it at all.

This was bound to happen – the architects of the rabble-pleasing Hunting Ban should have been only too well aware that you can’t run with the fox AND hunt with rhe hounds for too long.

I bet Nick Griffin is laughing his socks off. No longer is he the most hapless and despised politician in the UK!

1 – Brown won’t make the speech Sunny wants; none of the current New Labour front bench either could or would.

2 – The late Robin Cook tried with his ‘chicken tikka masala’ speech. But he’s long since gone (and probably weeping as he watches from above)

3 – To coin a phrase: ‘We all thought it, but nobody needed to say it’. Those ‘eastern Europeans’ come from eastern Europe. Moreover, they come from EU member states with legal freedom of movement – and only UKIP (and perhaps the BNP) is promising to put a stop to that (unless Cameron’s going to pitch for that vote on Thursday: maybe Brown or Clegg could ask him).

4 – The idea that ‘You can’t say anything about immigrants’ is a myth (as any reading of blogs and tabloid newspapers could tell you). Unfortunately, what keeps being said is mainly a variation on ‘Sod off – you’re not welcome’ or ‘You eat babies and drown fluffy kittens for fun’.

5 – No matter how ‘tough’ Labour have tried to be, there will be no pleasing some people who think the ideal number of immigrants from anywhere (let alone from within the EU) is ‘Zero’. If the Tories get in, it’ll be fun to see them balance nativism with free-market economics, let alone when Cameron tries to argue the case for raising whatever arbitrary ‘cap’ he comes up with.

6 – Everybody’s now got their excuse – sorry, ‘narrative’ – for the remainder of the campaign, which will save them the bother of talking about the economy (unless it’s to imply the deficit will go away through dealing with immigration). That goes double for the Brown-haters inside the Labour party and their media courtiers outside it.

Aside from the obvious, what really disappoints me is that in one fell swoop it gives credence to the sort of smears and innuendo which journalists like Nick Robinson have been peddling for years. Robinson is already crowing smugly to anyone who cares to listen.

Personally, I never wanted Brown as leader of Labour but have ‘stuck with him’ through thick and (quite a lot of) thin. His utterly, utterly stupid behaviour (he could barely wait to get in the car before slagging off all and sundry) has ruined the work of thousands of Labour members and that stupidity is unforgivable. Stupid, stupid man.

I don’t think “Sue” needs to worry – that is Sue Nye, wife of multimillionaire ex-Goldman Sachs Gavyn Davies.

Well it was extremely careless and no doubt hurtful to Mrs Duffy but I have some sympathy with Gordon here. Does anyone think that other politicians (even Nick Clegg) don’t say similar things in private after these kind of encounters with the general public? And why shouldn’t they – why should they be obliged to treat every utterance of the public as if it were the wisdom of Solomon? I mean FFS –

You can’t say anything about immigrants … All these eastern Europeans – where are they coming from?

Hmm, I can’t imagine. Maybe they are coming from Australia.

12. Dick the Prick

I can’t believe the coverage it’s getting really. Yeah, sure, it was a fuck up but for crying out loud it ain’t that big a deal is it? Front page of the beeb, wall to wall coverage on other networks – it’ll probably be up on Drudge (if not already) soon and simply because he thought some old gimmer was talking shite. Crikey!

Tim Montgomerie (Conservative Home) on Twitter:

This is devastating for Brown. Tory politicians mustn’t say too much about #BigotGate. Let press/bloggers bury Brown’s electoral chances.

Well, given that Tories won’t – and can’t – do anything about EU migration from eastern European member states, silence is about their only option.

PS: Is this a world speed record for attaining ‘-gate’ status?

Matt Munro re: Comment 5,

Spot on!

Martin Coxall, weren’t you arrested for punching a woman when trying to punch John Prescott?

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/election/article-1268082/General-Election-2010-Tory-council-candidate-Martin-Coxall-arrested-John-Prescott-visit.html

Commenting from inside, are you? Prisons really have become soft. Playstations AND LibCon. Why don’t they just not put them in there in the first place? Oh yeah – according to a Tory poster, Labour have let out

This post might seem off-topic, but it cuts to the chase: some people are bigoted, some are violent, some are ignorant.Yes, they don’t like being told. But it’s the truth.

If only Gordon had the balls to say it to her face.

“Labour should either confront the point of Eastern European immigration or stop it entirely. ”

As redpesto’s point 4 has it. Labour, in fact no one, can stop such immigration from E Europe while we’re still members of the EU.

It’s an absolute right, the free movement of labour.

@13

No idea if it’s a world record but wikipedia are already on the case http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bigotgate

This is probably going to get me slain but so be it.

Where do “all these Eastern Europeans come from?”

All these Eastern Europeans? Does she mean the “expats”?

I wonder if ladies like Mrs Duffy ever, even for a second, wonder about the massive number of British citizens who have been “swamping” entire EU regions (some Spanish provinces spring to mind, around 800,000 Brits are estimated to have moved there since 2000), and that’s absolutely fine.

I’d love to be able to film a Spaniard around Lloret del Mar on a Friday night at 4am when rivers of sick are trickling down the high street going “Where do all those Brits come from?”

You get all the papers like the Daily Mail and the Telegraphs and the Express “PRINTED IN SPAIN”, ironically all those who day in day out shout hysterically against Europe.

I wish one of the three leaders made this simple point on telly before the elections. That membership of the EU has also allowed up to 2m Brits to work, study, live, retire, buy property, make the property market more expensive, start businesses, get free healthcare etc in EU countries.

It is a simple truth. And they’re called “migrants” too, even though the Daily Mail like to call them “expats”.

That aside, yes, it was a massive, earth-swallow-me-up, Partridge-like gaffe for Mr Brown.

I love this thread.

If anyone is the “core” vote it is this woman.

And you lot hate her.

Wonderful, wonderful, wonderful.

Better dissolve the people and elect another, eh?

@Claude Spot on.

This woman might have some legitimate grievances. But she either doesn’t know or doesn’t care to know the reality of immigration. Immigrants really don’t have it any better than most other poor people in the UK. If anyone says this, of course, they are accused of being “soft” – so they pander to prejudice.

She was bigoted. Brown was right. But he has fucked up, royally.

@cjcjcjcjcjc

Boris said that! What’s wrong with telling people their views are stupid? I suppose you would’ve hung Galileo?

Eh?

Well do it to their face.
Don’t then blame your assistant.
Don’t then pretend you didn’t say it.

You know the original encounter went perfectly OK, really.
If that is Brown’s idea of a “disaster” he really is on if not over the edge.

Here was a perfect oppurtunity to dispel some myths about immigration, and the best he could do was call her a bigot.

@5 Matt Munro

“Why is it that the plebs are not deemed capable by the “liberal elite” of making their own minds up, based on personal experience, reason or observation, like you (ahem) educated types are, but have to copy them from tabloid newspapers ?”

Speaking as a representative of my people (!)….. I don’t accept the tired old right wing defence that it’s liberal prejudice. As some of the other posters have pointed out, some people ARE in fact bigoted; they make their minds up on the basis of what they read in the papers, or conflate their subjective negative personal experiences (however “real”) into a generalised opinion that all immigrants are the same, and that immigration is therefore “ a bad thing”.

We’ve all heard and seen the examples of people uncritically spouting uninformed crap dredged from the gutter press and BNP election posters about immigrants, and the dangers of being swamped Matt…so it’s not as if their experience, reason and observation are unfailingly accurate either is it?

Nobody is saying there aren’t issues, and lots of us would agree that all the major parties have been avoiding the topic, but that doesn’t mean that “plebs” are somehow privy to hidden wisdom based on their “personal experience, reason or observation”, any more than it means the “liberal elite” don’t think the plebs have minds of their own.

26. Roger Mexico

The immigration issue is interesting because it usually gets misinterpreted from both sides. The far right think it’s about race and blow the dog whistle; the liberal left think it’s bigotry and can be safely ignored.

But I get the impression that the majority of worries on immigration are about the Eastern European influx and about others, often illegally here, reducing wage levels for those already on the lowest earnings.

The incomers were usually young; without families or commitments; able to work long, unsociable hours for low rates; happy to go into the illegal economy and work for cash; and willing to put up with poor living conditions to maximise savings.

This made them the darling of the metropolitan elite: reducing the costs of the services they use and undermining wage costs. But it meant reduced opportunities for many in the traditional working classes and those less educated (who will then be airily dismissed as “chavs”)

Ironically may of those who have actually suffered most are the second and third decendants of Commonwealth immigrants. They must often wonder if what they’re seeing is good old fashioned racism – justified by cries of “racism” if anyone objects.

This whole incident isn’t just going to be a flash in the pan, because it showed the views of what is, to use an old term about very different people, the ruling class.

27. Nick Cohen is a Tory

Love this thread.
If anyone is the “core” vote it is this woman.
And you lot hate her.
Wonderful, wonderful, wonderful.
Better dissolve the people and elect another, eh?

cjcjc
How true, unfortunately Tories like your self and Kojak will call her scrounging scumbag who should get off their arse and get health insurance ,while walking around in YC “Fuck the poor” T shirts.
More than one set of hypocrites in this argument.
Talking of two faced Twats.
Are you not an immigrant Matt.
Why haven’t we did something about you and your family

Strange how the media got this remark. no MI5 involvement in this one eh ?

The comment is symptomatic of many people’s approach to politics – which in the true sense often betrays elements of bigotry in the sense that they refuse to accept that their opponents have a valid view and accuse them of -isms and phobias on the flimsiest of evidence.

Immigration is a problem; but if you are accused of racism or suffering from delusion or phobias if you express concern about it, then it makes the possibility of real debat impossible.

Will this affect the election? I suspect no more than marginally – but it does rather support the claims, dismissed by labour insiders for years, about Gordon Brown’s approach.

“some people ARE in fact bigoted; they make their minds up on the basis of what they read in the papers,”

I think I might frame that.

“DON’T BELEIVE POLLY TOYNBEE, IT MAKES YOU A BIGOT”

….or are bigots those who believe the bits of papers you don’t approve of?

cjcjc… it’s not ‘hate’; it’s that she is wrong (or at least ill-informed) – but the difficulty is explaining that to people like her

cjcjc re: Comment19,

She might be considered a ‘core supporter’ but she’s not liberal enough for people round here.

Shouldn’t she be sent off somewhere to break rocks and a bit of re-education to help purge her of her bourgeois delusions and petty prejudices?

Perhaps the best thing would be to enrol her at ‘uni’ for a degree in cultural studies or journalism.

@26

I have no idea what you’re going on about, but If I ever say anything offensive please be assured that it was all Sue’s fault.
And Sky/MI5 for planting the mike.
And the bloke who invented the mike in the first place.

@29 – “people like her” – like what, exactly?

but the difficulty is explaining that to people like her

Is this not being a bigot. After all you cannot possible know what shes like based on that short interview anymore than she can know about immigration from reading papers?

Perhaps he could explain to her exactly what he meant by “British jobs for British workers”?

“Was it bigoted? Don’t think she she said was bigoted per se, though if people start talking about immigrants “swamping” or “flooding” or “flocking” into the country then you have a good idea of what newspaper they read and how they stand on th?”

Not really.

Im sure you think you are way smarter than her but you really dont know anything about her. You certainly cant deduce what newspaper she reads or even if she reads a newspaper at all. Outside of blogging, there aren’t many people who fit neatly into your lib/left labels sunny.

Brown was simply caught making the kind of presumptions and insults your blog does.

37. Dick the Prick

@29 – Plebs can vote? What on earth is going on? Let’s change the constitution immediately and only allow Labour to vote. That should fix it.

How very honourable of you to condescend to her level – brilliant.

Nick Cohen is a Tory re: comment 26,

What a nice post – I see you’ve obtained your 3rd in cultural studies already. Don’t forget to return the bolt print copy of Raymond Williams’s essays to the CIF library before you log off?

In the meantime why don’t you get off your high horse and ask yourself what has this little old lady done to make you so angry? This morning she went out to see the Prime Minister and by this afternoon she’s got you speculating that she is part of a MI5 conspiracy. Whoever said retirement isn’t all it’s cracked up to be?

@28 Tim

“….or are bigots those who believe the bits of papers you don’t approve of?”

If it walks like a duck…..?

I think you’ll find I rather carefully said that there is a debate to be had on immigration, the problems it can cause as well as the benefits. I’m also not saying (except perhaps in my more facetious moments) anything as simplistic as “Daily Mail reader = bigot”.

What I WAS saying in response to Matt’s earlier post that there ARE in fact many people who do make their minds up on issues in just this way. It’s not a sin to be ignorant after all…it is a sin to be proud of it.

redpesto re: comment 29,

“but the difficulty is explaining that to people like her”

Absolutely priceless!

41. Nick Cohen is a Tory

Labour is now toast but she did did go on.
Tell you one thing
Cjcjc, Kojak and the rest of the right wing crew.
Would you have her as neighbour.
She reminded me of the old cows that use to burst your football if it went into her garden.
By the “Duffy”. Where do the Irish immigrants come from ?

Isn’t is funny that people demand that the candidates say what they really think, then when one does, this is called a gaffe? He called a woman ‘bigoted’ after she displayed views that many of us (including Brown it may seem) would describe as ‘bigoted’. What of it? Politicians of every stripe get abuse from the general public every day during the campaign. Brown said something which he thought was private and we all found out about it. He didn’t punch her in the face or call her names or attempted to humiliate her in any way, he just attempted to smile politely and move on. At least he thinks that people that go on about ‘Eastern European’ immigrants like this are bigots. Personally, I would be more shocked if we heard him say ‘actually there are too many Eastern European in the Country’.

Of course, he could have called her bluff. He could have said that he intended to ban Americans, Australians, South Africans, French and Spanish people coming here and would understand if they stopped Brits from entering their Country too and see if she agreed.

What I find really funny is that had Gordon Brown said “Silly old dear” instead of “bigot” he would have come out of it smelling of roses.

44. Badstephen

If it is the final nail for New Labour it is an apt one – publicly pandering to the public’s worst instincts and lacking the courage to defend the vulnerable. Last 13 years in a nutshell.

@41 – true, but he should have said it to her face then. If he was scared to say it aloud then he cant be that convinced she is a bigot.

Oh my. This will be old news by, ooh, 10pm tomorrow evening…

FFS – Prescott lamped a voter in 2001 and Labour won with a(nother) landslide. They have far bigger problems that the loose-tongue of the PM (who, short of an outright Labour victory (unlikely before all this anyway) will be resigning on May 7th).

Priorities, people.

47. Nick Cohen is a Tory

Good points Jim
At least Brown spoke to the woman and the event was not staged, unlike the Tory nuremburg rallies,
Only selected bigots like kojak , cjcjc and Matt are allowed to talk to saint dave.

What????
This is the first time Brown has been exposed to the public.
Well, at least it won’t happen again.

Nick Cohen is a Tory re: comment 46,

Oh, so I’m a bigot now am I? Funny that, I’ve always voted Labour as well.

You are like a half blinded boxer swinging wildly in the hope of catching the other fighter before ref jumps in.

50. Regular Commenter

If I can be heard over the furious, fapping mutual spank-off noises from the resident Tories, there’s really no good excuse for Brown here. “Okay, I screwed up, who amongst us hasn’t?” is about as good as this one is going to get.

I can sympathise, and I reckon anyone who’s previously dealt with the public can too: I’ve been on the receiving end of plenty of calls from people who start off on, say, council bins collection. You spend ages on that, then suddenly the topic shifts to a complaint about pensions, and after calmly answering that lot, you get schools, roads and finally, the conversation turns to the unemployed or asylum seekers or junkies. At that point, your heart sinks as you realise that nothing productive is going to come out of this conversation.

People don’t give out like this because they’re bigots, or because they’re crazy – although many people are, unfortunately. Most just do it because like everyone, they’ve got a lot on their minds and now that they’ve got your ear, they want to get their points across.

It’s the most natural thing in the world to them, but it’s really difficult for the person being interrogated because you’re being hit with a string of seemingly random questions. Try that in front of national TV cameras, and we’re talking about a politician’s nightmare. Just don’t go imagining that there’s a politician in this country who hasn’t been on the receiving end of this kind of stream-of-consciousness interrogation, who hasn’t spoken his mind very bluntly about it afterwards.

So sure, Brown has horribly fucked the dog on this one, and a period of grovelling is in order. OTOH, I don’t think it’ll have a major impact on the outcome of the election, although it will put a spring in the step of the type of hideous fucking ghoul who likes to hang around websites pretending that he’s never allowed to talk about immigrants.

Bullygate didn’t hurt Brown, it actually helped him!

Millions of liberal leftie (“traitor”, “commie scum” in the minds of Kojak and cjcjcj no doubt) voters will wonder if Brown secretly agrees with them that yes, there are a lot of fucking bigoted scum among the electorate, and perhaps it’s about time we told them to STFU or go to Spain to join the other 800,000 British immigrants there, but chooses not to for fear of alienating those same people.

the type of hideous fucking ghoul who likes to hang around websites pretending that he’s never allowed to talk about immigrants

These are the people who spend all their time talking about immigrants/Muslims/Gita Saghal/etc etc! Well called out

53. Nick Cohen is a Tory

I don’t believe you have ever voted Labour.
Easy to say that on a blog
Lollypop man.
As for the boxing analogy, true but at least one will get through

cjcjc
Has Dave had any sticky questioning.
Tory boy

Although I feel a staged event coming.

Dave @ 44

Nothing wrong in being polite in a public environment and keeping ones thoughts to oneself. We all do it at parties, weddings et or at work. I wonder how many arseholes call centre workers have to deal with daily without cussing them? I bet many of them talk to co-workers and vent their spleen. The difference being no-one hears those remarks.

@kojak – don’t know about you, but maybe I believe people can be persuaded by evidence and argument.

What some of you folks seem to have missed is that the party who stand to gain the most from the are the BNP!

He (Gordon Brown) couldn’t have demonstrated more clearly what Labour thinks about their traditional voters if he had tried.

@52 – do you keep up with the news?
He had some yesterday over integration of disabled kids into regular schools.
I think it was the lead item on some bulletins.

Yes Blanco, maybe, though they might prefer someone who “secretly” agrees with them to not bang on at the same time about “British jobs for British workers”.

59. Nick Cohen is a Tory

That looked very staged Tory boy

By MI5 perhaps?

Redpesto,

Isn’t that what Thomas Cromwell thought about Thomas Moore?

62. Nick Cohen is a Tory

Who loves yer baby
The BNP will not be the winners, just the Tories. they get bigot vote (cjcjc, you and matt).
I remember in the sixties when their councillors use to preach “Vote Labour for a black neighbour”. Ibet with the likes of cjcjc in their ranks that hasn’t changed
Also is their anybody who has, bacause of their job said one thing to a prat to placate them and then slag them off in private.
In some ways it might appeal to the floating voter who works in call centre or has deal with serial complainers, Gordon your the man

@55 Kojak

Good riddance to them then! The kind of “traditional voters” who would decide to vote BNP aren’t worth having. They are either convinced working class bigots who won’t be missed, or people who really ought to know better… but can’t be bothered to really research the issue.

If people really are ignorant enough to vote BNP, it’s not due to anger at the “liberal elite” for tarring them as bigots for opposing immigration – it’s because they are politically gullible and need to get themselves better informed. Social or economic grievances aren’t really accepted as an excuse for those Germans who voted Nazi in the 1930’s, and the same thing applies to anyone voting BNP in the UK today.

@53

I wonder how many arseholes call centre workers have to deal with daily without cussing them? I bet many of them talk to co-workers and vent their spleen. The difference being no-one hears those remarks.

Having worked in a call centre myself until being laid off in the recession I can tell you that is abso-bloody-lutely correct. In fact one of my ex-collegues was sacked because he left phone line open and recording while bitching on about some ranty customer being a c***… so yeah. It does happen.

Nick Cohen is a Tory,

So you don’t think the BNP candidates in Stoke and Barking will going out saying “Told you so, told you so!” on the doorsteps.

I don’t fancy seeing a single BNP MP next month, but old Gordon’s just has made that more likely.

Tim Worstall: I think I might frame that.

“DON’T BELEIVE POLLY TOYNBEE, IT MAKES YOU A BIGOT”

Wait. This coming from the former UKIP press officer? Does your party and your people ever actually say anything intelligent?

So you don’t think the BNP candidates in Stoke and Barking will going out saying “Told you so, told you so!” on the doorsteps.

Except the Tories, their candidates, and their press allies have been saying it all along.

Has to be said, some of the cases for the defence on this thread are pretty hilarious.

Jim

Isn’t is funny that people demand that the candidates say what they really think, then when one does, this is called a gaffe?

That would be true if he had said what he thought in public. It was a gaffe because he lied in public and told what he believed to be the truth in private. That is err…..hypocrtical.

Blanco

This woman might have some legitimate grievances. But she either doesn’t know or doesn’t care to know the reality of immigration.

But I rather think she thinks she does and for you to say otherwise is insulting and patronising.

Like Gordon was.

Redpesto

it’s not ‘hate’; it’s that she is wrong (or at least ill-informed) – but the difficulty is explaining that to people like her

When you’re in a hole, or even a jar…………

The interesting point about this incident is that it shows the utter contempt the elite have for the views and concerns of their core constituents. Nu Labour view the working class as mainly stupid, ignorant, prejudiced and inadequate people who need to be protected from the consequences of their stupidity, ignorance and bigotry.

They are probably right in this, but it doesn’t help to articulate that view a week before you ask the morons to vote for you.

If people really are ignorant enough to vote BNP, it’s not due to anger at the “liberal elite” for tarring them as bigots for opposing immigration – it’s because they are politically gullible and need to get themselves better informed.

Al ate entry from Gallen 10…………….

All of this is very amusing, and unlike the John Prescott incident mentioned a couple of times above, cannot be justified (if an idiot throws an egg at you, punch them back; if a little (this needs clarifying – I have no idea how big she is) old woman expresses a concern that you don’t like, try to accept the fact…).

However, in a mood of anti-politics, do you think that the statist, centralist, prime-minister will be forgiven belittling the views of his own core supporters, having apparently been perfectly pleasant to her. Mr Cameron’s amusing encounters with a Liberal Democrat-supporting student and a man who may not have been as random an encounter as first thought, but who still had valid points, were marked by Mr Cameron arguing. Mr Brown’s encounter, with his own supporter, were marked by Mr Brown pretending to agree then leaving muttering about the fact he thought she was bigotted (because people have to embrace change whether they want it or not I presume?). I can see no redeeming feature here, and I have a horrible feeling that like Dan Quayle and potatos (sic) this will be remembered.

On the bright side, it may ensure that Labour gets a new leader (after the election) who is not an arrogant idiot who cannot stand criticism…

Blanco re: Comment 66,

Either Labour or the BNP will win Stoke and Barking, not the Conservatives.

This was a real gift for Nick Griffin.

72. Regular Commenter

Show of hands – anyone here ever been polite to someone’s face for professional reasons, then badmouthed them in private? If you have, did it look a bit like this does – way over the top, grossly unfair and cringeworthy?

Look, there’s no way out of this – it was a bad gaffe and Brown is going to have to eat one shit sandwich after another until election day, and quite right too.

That said, this stuff about the immigrants and the awful elitists is tedious fucking drivel. Commenters trying to turn this into a right wing revolution against Gpd knows what are as see-through as thin air; further, anyone pretending to be a Labour voter left behind by the party is a hilarious bullshitter, since they’ve moved to the right on every issue.

@70 Oh yeah, I forgot, Kojak. The BNP are left wing. Was that your next line?

“Does your party and your people ever actually say anything intelligent?”

The original comment was along the lines of “people who believe what they read in the papers are bigots”.

“some people ARE in fact bigoted; they make their minds up on the basis of what they read in the papers,”

See?

Thus, logically, those who make their minds up on the basis of a Polly column are bigots. An idea so laughably stupid that it deserves to be laughed at.

(Polly may be howlingly wrong on most things, entirely ignorant of economics and incapable of understanding the source documents she claims to be referring to. But the one thing she isn’t is a bigot.)

Blanco re: Comment 72,

What planet are you on?

I’m concerned that the BNP might get MPs and greater coverage as a consequence – just when there is increased likelihood of changing the voting to a system of PR which could cement them as a mainstream British political party.

Clear enough?

From the PM:

“As you may know, I have apologised to Mrs Duffy for remarks I made in the back of the car after meeting her on the campaign trail in Rochdale today. I would also like to apologise to you.”

“I know how hard you all work to fight for me and the Labour Party, and to ensure we get our case over to the public. So when the mistake I made today has so dominated the news, doubtless with some impact on your own campaigning activities, I want you to know I doubly appreciate the efforts you make.”

“Many of you know me personally. You know I have strengths as well as weaknesses. We all do. You also know that sometimes we say and do things we regret. I profoundly regret what I said this morning.”

“I am under no illusions as to how much scorn some in the media will want to heap upon me in the days ahead.”

“But you, like I, know what is at stake in the days ahead and so we must redouble our campaigning efforts to stop Britain returning to a Tory Party that would do so much damage to our economy, our society and our schools and NHS, not least in places like Rochdale.”

“The worst thing about today is the hurt I caused to Mrs Duffy, the kind of person I came into politics to serve. It is those people I will have in my mind as I look ahead to the rest of the campaign.”

“You will have seen me in one context on the TV today. I hope tomorrow you see once more someone not just proud to be your leader, but also someone who understands the economic challenges we face, how to meet them, and how that improves the lives of ordinary families all around Britain.”

Regards,

Gordon

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

Stand at ease folks, tomorrow is another day.

pagar – are you saying that such voters cannot be persuaded via debate?

78. Nick Cohen is a Tory

watchman
Eloquent as ever but lets foregt the party politics. You are not a statist socialist but have you never placated anyone and then said “Fuck me what was she/he on”.
Paul’s article is pretty much on the button about hypocrisy.
Also she is not the core vote of the Labour party. She sounds more like a working class tory, a little like below
Kojak
If you look at the think tanks behind the Tory party they don’t differ much in substance from the BNP about thei ideas about immigration.

79. Badstephen

The one silver lining is this affair has nailed the lie “you can’t say anything about immigration in this country.”

Mrs Duffy raised it and is a national heroine.
Gordon voiced an instinctive distaste for her language and has been pilloried.

The fact is, you can’t say anything liberal about immigration in this country. We’ve all heard views like Mrs Duffy’s (and far worse), down the pub, in the post office queue, at the golf club. And we’ve kept quiet, because to say “I’d rather you didn’t talk that way” is automatically to be labelled politically correct. And if it’s difficult for us, it’s impossible for politicians, whatever their private view. One of my reasons for not voting Labour this time is their gutlessness in the face of the right’s immigration agenda. In fact, the only way Gordon Brown could get through to reassure someone like myself that he privately sympathises was probably through an accident like this…Wait a minute…you don’t suppose…?

@ 76

pagar – are you saying that such voters cannot be persuaded via debate?

You can’t cure racists any more than you can cure homosexuals.

I thought you’d have known that.

Nick Cohen is a Tory,

Doesn’t my comment 74 explain what I am concerned about?

@pagar: sorry, silly me, I didn’t realise racism was some kind of intrinsic condition rather than an ideology (that some people will stubbornly cling to no matter what…which brings us back to ‘bigoted’?)

cjcjc:

I love this thread.

If anyone is the “core” vote it is this woman.

And you lot hate her.

Wonderful, wonderful, wonderful.

Better dissolve the people and elect another, eh?

Interesting. Someone called “cjcjc” said exactly the same thing on a different thread:

http://liberalconspiracy.org/2010/04/28/browns-bigoted-woman-gaffe-full-video/#comment-125089

Was repeating yourself an attempt at boosting your ego?

You can’t cure racists any more than you can cure homosexuals.

However, you can cure homophobia, as many Conservatives will testify.

85. Matt Munro

@ 24 Agreed But how is that any different to getting your views from the Guardian (or LC or whatever) and then spouting off crap about recycling/lightbulbs/car owners etc ? Other than one set of prejudices are deemed fashionable opinion and the others are deemed prejudice ? All media panders to the prejudices of its readers.

86. Matt Munro

@ 26 “Are you not an immigrant Matt.”

Product of migrant parents yes. Newsfash – that doesn’t mean I have to be pro migration. In fact, as I never tire of pointing out to Guardinistas like you who sit in Stabucks jerking off over the multi-culti scene outside, and then mince off home to white middle class Islington to snort coke with your media mates, established migrant communities are actually more anti migration than the general population. Any idea why that could be ? I guess not as you’ve probably never had to work for minimum wage or been put on a council house waiting list.

87. Charlieman

I just looked at the 4’15” minute video that is currently on the Guardian election news page. A few things stand out to me:

1. Gillian Duffy’s comment about immigration was innocuous. Ignorant, possibly, but as Sunny wrote at the top, the UK has not been served with a sensible debate about immigration.

2. Note Gillian Duffy’s reference to Eastern European migrants, people who look like us, like a drink and may even attend the same church. Her words were not about being swamped by aliens or having our culture/birth rights removed, but simply displayed her lack of knowledge. A lack of knowledge that Gordon Brown has had numerous previous opportunities to correct in immigration debates.

3. Note that Gillian Duffy doesn’t bluster when Gordon Brown explains that UK immigration is a two way process. She appears to take the argument on board, and at that time she expresses her willingness to vote Labour again. Immigration clearly was not a show stopping issue for her.

4. A couple of minutes later in the video, Gillian Duffy is approached by a television crew. She is visibly shocked when listening to Gordon Brown’s remarks.

5. The whole story made me feel very uncomfortable. Mostly on behalf of Gillian Duffy, but just a little for Gordon Brown (even if he is a hypocrite and a fool).

6. People who post on LibCon are political wonks. Even if pro- or anti-immigration, we are a lot more informed than a typical voter. Gillian Duffy is a typical voter so her ignorance is the fault of politicians. And the fault of us wonks, to a degree, for failing to generate a sensible debate about immigration.

7. Owing to his job, Gordon Brown probably doesn’t spend an awful lot of time with non-wonks. He needs to spend a bit more time down the pub if he is serious about talking with ordinary people. As do the LibCon commenters who think that Gillian Duffy could be treated with such disrespect.

Sunny,

You are absolutely correct. This is a golden opportunity to do a speech on immigration balanced with emigration. Brown should do it. It could prove to be the turning point he needs.

It would be stupid not to now paint the whole picture.

With it he can put Cameron on the back foot.

It could so easily turn Cameron into a Michael Howard.

Come on Brown – do the speech. Tell the country about the hordes now camped out on Spain’s beaches.

Charlieman re: Comment 86,

Thanks for setting it out so clearly.

I’m really disappointed by the whole incident.

Mrs Duffy is an average voter with widely held concerns and a greater degree of respect towards their conversation should have been shown by Gordon Brown.
It’s a mystery to me why he said she was bigoted – all she did was dare to talk to him like a voter and tell him what she thought. It wasn’t as if she talked about British job for British workers.

Brown’s reaction in the car spoke volumes of his distaste for the experience and an assumption that their chat had been nothing but a problem. It was really sad – it was if he was exhausted by the prospect of defeat when in fact everything was still up for grabs.

Somewhere, the other side of an ash delay, Tony Blair is saying: ‘Oh well, I tried to warn them, but they wouldn’t listen’.

90. Matt Munro

@ 87 But why should someone who lives here care about migration to Spain ? It’s for the Spanish to moan about UK immigrants (and they do)

‘It’s for the Spanish to moan about UK immigrants (and they do)’

Then they would be short-sighted (and some, bigotted).

Once everyone gets used to the idea of freedom of movement of labour then I think the issue will disappear.

92. Matt Munro

@90 Yep because free movment of labout was of course invented in 1997…..
It would only dissappear when anyone can get free healthcare anywhere, free schooling anywhere, an alignment of tax rates, an alignment of legal systems, etc etc etc. In other words a global, socialist, super state. No thanks

89. Matt Munro

‘ But why should someone who lives here care about migration to Spain ? It’s for the Spanish to moan about UK immigrants (and they do) ‘

It is always a source of mild amusement that the foaming at the mouth people who fret endlessly about immigration never take their point to its logical conclusion and demand government caps on emigration. Unless you believe the myth that immigrants come here to claim benefits, alternatively the Lump of Labour Fallacy they take all our jobs. Immigrants increase our prosperity but emigrants costs us money. British emigrants who retain their British passport should be contributing to the UK Treasury for as long as they retain British citizenship no matter where they live in the world. They still impose costs on the UK, by using their passport when required but free ride by contributing nothing. They can always avoid the cost by rescinding their citizenship.

I’m as guilty as Brown in this respect: My immediate thought was “hang on, she did say something bigoted! Right on, Gordie!”. I’m not a labour supporter, so rather than tribal loyalty this was coming from my default positive disposition towards immigration.

Thing is, though, I don’t actually know that much about how immigration works in the UK. I’ve got no idea where to find the facts and figures. My kneejerk ascription of bigotry to Mrs Duffy is pretty much founded on the observation that (her good intentions aside) she asked the same questions as Littlejohn, Liddle, Gaunt i.e. people who are, in fact, racist bigots.

Of course, they rhetorically ask such questions in bad faith because they’re paid shitloads to do so, the consequences won’t affect them either way. Mrs Duffy actually had a once-in-a-lifetime chance to seek answers from the Prime Minister, and got smirked at, fobbed off and insulted behind her back. Sky News were gleefully milking the event on behalf of Dave, but they didn’t manufacture the sight of a pensioner who looked like she’d had the wind knocked from her, suddenly witness to the futility of activism.

So, then, the next task: finding out the truth about immigration, free from racist doom and liberal puff.

After that? We burn down New Labour and start again.

95. Charlieman

@91 Matt Munro: “Yep because free movment of labout was of course invented in 1997…..
It would only dissappear when anyone can get free healthcare anywhere, free schooling anywhere, an alignment of tax rates, an alignment of legal systems, etc etc etc. In other words a global, socialist, super state. No thanks”

Free movement of labour or dwelling is a result of EU membership. It is a two way thing. Tough luck if you are not from the EU or can’t score enough immigration points.

Poles come here and share our social services. UK citizens live elsewhere and do likewise. They (Poles here, UK citizens abroad) have their children educated and are treated for ill health. That sounds like fair exchange to me; Poland (typically) exports young, healthy wealth producers (breeders, even) and the UK will export me in 17 years time when I retire. I might even migrate to Poland if their society becomes more liberal.

* Alignment of (income/company) taxes: that doesn’t happen in the EU.
* Alignment of VAT: nope.
* Alignment of legal systems: ditto overall but the arrest warrant scenario is an illiberal fiasco.
* Alignment of laws about animal welfare, classification of historic buildings, food labelling, recreational drugs, pinball machines, prostitution: not really.
* Socialist super state: nope.

As a liberal, I believe that there is too much EU legislation (and excessive UK implementation of directives). But I want to oppose it from the inside.

Last year, Denis MacShane wrote that a referendum on the Lisbon Treaty would “unleash…a festival of xenophobic hate against Europe“. This government’s always had contempt for its people.

It would be interesting to know if any of the contributors have spoken to British construction workers on their views on immigration and whether it has improved their job security and pay?

It would be interesting to know if any of the contributors have spoken to British construction workers on their views on immigration and whether it has improved their job security and pay?

I hope you’re not about to do an argumentum ad construction workers.

@Charlie2

John Harris has been doing an election tour for the Groan-yard. Amongst the people he met were builders undercut by polish immigrants. And no, they weren’t ecstatic.

It appears that we and the media are forgetting by far the biggest insult by a Country mile. Not captured through a radio mike in the back of a staff car, but spoken directly in a the first TV debate by David Cameron (as it happens).

He described ‘400 uniformed police officers pushing forms in HR’ a nice soundbite, but of course ‘HR’ in the police force includes training and it turns out these 400 police are training cadets in the fundamentals of police work. This week, we are reminded how important that training can or at least should be. The report about Blair Peach’s death has came out and perhaps that is more important than a gaffe in an unguarded moment.

Cameron got away with that remark. No media circus, no outraged coppers, no Radio 5 milking it for everything it is worth the next day, nothing. And most importantly Cameron had not got this remark rammed down his throat and forced into a grovelling apology to 400 police officers doing vital, front line work. Nothing of the sort.

What Brown did was call a woman ‘a sort of bigot’ for saying the type things that ‘sort of bigots’ routinely make.

Cameron made the sort of gaffe that you expect the ignorant to make. He saw the term ‘HR’ and assumed that meant shuffling paperwork. He made no attempt to find out what they did or why police officers were used. No, it would be great for him to have 400 policemen sitting in cubicles twiddling their thumbs all day, therefore that is what he imagines they are doing.

Brown thinks that people who bang on about immigration are bigots. Cameron thinks that because he is too lazy to research the truth, his prejudices must be correct.

Which one of these is the media worrying about? More importantly, which of these two stories betray either leader as a buffoon? Unbelievably, this is not an attack on Cameron. This is an attack on our dumded down media. I have often heard it said that we get the politicians we deserve. By God, whoever wins the election, I hope that is not true.

Galen10 spot on!
‘It’s not a sin to be ignorant after all…it is a sin to be proud of it.’
It’s also a sin to refuse to accept any information which contradicts your opinions, even when said information is proved to be factual.
Looks as if Duffy was prepared to accept Brown’s comments on immigration and would have continued to vote Labour. Maybe he’s blown it now, for her, who knows. What is needed is, as Sunny says, for politicians (at least the non-bigoted ones!) to “accept people have concerns about immigration and accept that we have a problem talking about the issue because one side is constantly in hysteria and the other not willing to take a stand on the issue.”

102. Col. Richard Hindrance (Mrs)

Newsfash – that doesn’t mean I have to be pro migration.

Newsfash? Now that’s a Freudian slip, if ever I saw one.

Now, let’s play Boring Right Wing Cliché Bingo!

…Guardinistas…

BING!

…sit in Stabucks…

BING!

…multi-culti scene…

BING!

…mince off…

BING!

And with added homophobia too. Nice.

…white middle class Islington…

BING!

…snort coke…

BING!

…your media mates…

BING!

BING! BINGBINGBING! HOUSE!!!

We have a winner! Give that man a set of nude Richard Littlejohn postcards!

Stay classy, Munro.

@ 74 Tim

Even by your usually low standard this one slithers under the low bar comfortably, which most regular posters on here will no doubt reconise as being par for the course from someone who (whilst apparently reasonably intelligent) actually thinks UKIP are respectable.

I did not make the lazy comment you attribute in your paraphrasing “people who believe what they read in the papers are bigots”. Credulous perhaps, but only bigoted if they ARE actually persuaded by something they read to hold a bigoted view. That seems eminently reasonable to me, and I would suspect most other people posting here.

Why is it you seem to have such a problem with the concept that some people ARE ill-informed? That they DO actually accept uncritically the poisonous drivel spouted by much of our right wing media?

Please note, I’m NOT saying that everyone who reads such papers is ipso facto a bigot, or that they can’t make up their own minds…. but to maintain that none of them are is even more laughable than the sin you accuse me of. Whether they were convinced bigots beforehand, or simply read the newspeak in the press and accept it as “real” and espouse bigoted views makes little odds.

A core Labour supporter is, as we can see from the case of Mrs Duffy, capable of espousing views on immigration most in that party, and many people outside, would find fairly disreputable. The facts that many people are worried about immigration, that the major parties have failed to engage over the issue until recently, and that many people will agree with her do not make her views right.

Galen10:

Why is it you seem to have such a problem with the concept that some people ARE ill-informed? That they DO actually accept uncritically the poisonous drivel spouted by much of our right wing media?

With Gillian Duffy, one can tell from the video that she is both ill-informed and unaccustomed to critical or categoric thinking. You can tell this because of the sentence, “These Eastern Europeans, where are they flooding from”?

Leaving aside the obvious and alarming problem with that sentence, since our economy tanked two years ago Eastern Europeans have been famously leaving faster than they arrive.

Regarding why her comment was profoundly offensive to any honourable person, let alone to the target ethnicity, read this. My view remains that Brown’s mistake was not saying in public what he clearly thinks in private.

My passports just expired, does that mean my huge sense of entitlement has aswell?


Reactions: Twitter, blogs
  1. Natalie Catchpole

    Here’s @libcon on why those of us who think immigration is a net good should actually start talking about it. http://bit.ly/bz6c1p

  2. jeevanvasagar

    RT @libcon: This is why we shouldn't shy away on immigration http://bit.ly/bz6c1p

  3. Gabriel Lewis

    RT @sunny_hundal: Brown's gaffe shows why the party shouldn’t shy away from being positive on immigration: http://bit.ly/bz6c1p

  4. Ed Gerstner

    RT @sunny_hundal: Brown's gaffe shows why the party shouldn’t shy away from being positive on immigration: http://bit.ly/bz6c1p

  5. earwicga

    RT @libcon: This is why we shouldn't shy away on immigration http://bit.ly/bz6c1p

  6. Citizen K

    http://bit.ly/aS2we4 @sunny_hundal says this highlights Labour's failure to encourage rational, balanced debate on immigration. #BigotGate

  7. MissTJD

    Good point, well made: RT @libcon This is why we shouldn't shy away on immigration http://bit.ly/bz6c1p

  8. Ryan Bestford

    "This is why we shouldn’t shy away on immigration" – http://bit.ly/c6Tzmx (via @LibCon)

  9. Jon Sharman

    RT @elmyra What Gillian Duffy did to me: http://
    elmyra.livejournal.com/498792.html <<i was wrong (http://bit.ly/bz6c1p) this woman is right

  10. Liberal Conspiracy

    This is why we shouldn't shy away on immigration http://bit.ly/bz6c1p

  11. John West

    RT @libcon: This is why we shouldn't shy away on immigration http://bit.ly/bz6c1p

  12. sunny hundal

    Brown's gaffe shows why the party shouldn’t shy away from being positive on immigration: http://bit.ly/bz6c1p

  13. StopTheRight

    RT @libcon: This is why we shouldn't shy away on immigration http://bit.ly/bz6c1p

  14. Jon Sharman

    RT @sunny_hundal: Brown's gaffe shows why the party shouldn’t shy away from being positive on immigration: http://bit.ly/bz6c1p

  15. uberVU - social comments

    Social comments and analytics for this post…

    This post was mentioned on Twitter by libcon: This is why we shouldn’t shy away on immigration http://bit.ly/bz6c1p

  16. Oh, Gordon. « @Number 71

    […] bashing, and the parties must be careful not to appear to agree with Duffy – as Sunny Hundal says, her words weren’t bigoted as spoken, but they are clearly a sort of gateway into those types […]

  17. sunny hundal

    @LateNightLiveR2 yes, I wrote about it here: http://bit.ly/bz6c1p

  18. Tweets that mention Liberal Conspiracy » This is why we shouldn’t shy away on immigration -- Topsy.com

    […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Liberal Conspiracy, Ed Gerstner, Natalie Catchpole, Citizen K, Ryan Bestford and others. Ryan Bestford said: "This is why we shouldn’t shy away on immigration" – http://bit.ly/c6Tzmx (via @LibCon) […]

  19. Liberal Conspiracy » ‘Should have never put me with that woman’-gate

    […] highlights the cretinism of his immigration policy. On the one hand he’s pandered to bigotry and failed to make a case for immigration, but on the other hand he’s just given grist to the mill of every […]





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