Lord Mandelson in his new book serialised in The Times today refers to the media disaster for Labour's election campaign when Gordon Brown's description of Rochdale grandmother Gillian Duffy as a bigot was picked up by Sky News.
Lord Mandelson writes: "Everything about it was bad: the contrast between the kind words Gordon had spoken to Gillian Duffy’s face, and the sneer behind her back; the appearance of being out of touch on the issue she had raised with him, which was the source of his embarrassing remark: immigration."
He adds: "I called David Muir [Director of Political Strategy and special adviser to Gordon Brown], Sue [Nye], Alastair [Campbell], and Gordon. The first thing I told them was what not to do. Gordon wanted to hold a press conference. That sounded crazy to me. It would magnify the embarrassment. I said Gordon had to apologise, of course, and he should go and see Gillian Duffy at her home. Gordon followed my advice, but afterwards, when he stepped outside into the midst of the throng of waiting media, my heart sank. What he was saying was instantly undermined by the return of a classic Gordon idiosyncrasy: the appearance of a broad grin, very often in an inappropriate context, when he was nervous. In this case, he grinned as he was saying that his remarks about Mrs Duffy had left him mortified. The effect was unfortunate."
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