In which I kind of feel badly for Gordon Brown

(photo by David Fisher of Rex Features, found here)

I’m not British and I don’t pay particularly close attention to their politics so perhaps I’m off base here but it can’t be easy to be Gordon Brown these days. He’s having a bad election and today, had a spectacularly bad day. Following a meeting a voter named Gillian Duffy who complained about immigration, an open microphone caught him privately calling her a “sort of bigoted woman”.

So he went and apologized to her and everyone seems to think this is the end for Brown.  I think the only way he’ll get over this is if Duffy announces her intention to vote for the British National Party and then there’ll be nothing “sort of bigoted” about her.

In age when telegenic grace and charm are everything in politics, the only word one could use to charitably describe Brown is, in your best Scottish accents now, “dour”.  It doesn’t matter how smart or capable he may be, he comes off as a too-serious civil servant who has to go deal with the plebes every four years or so.

But that must be awfully tedious, even for the most affable politicians. While most people, no matter which way they lean politically, are mostly engaged with the process and civil toward their elected officials, they’re not the ones who come out to pester their elected officials with every ax they can possibly grind. So when a woman tries to talk about immigration, even if her concerns may be valid, I can see a politician mentally translating that as “Oh, here’s another one, complaining about too many dark-skinned people on Coronation Street.”  It’s like reading a newspaper article, then the online comments with their 90/10 livid mouthbreather/reasoned critique ratio. It tends to skew your perspective.

So I guess the lesson from this is for politicians to be aware of that disconnect between the elected and the electors. And to turn the microphone off when you want to vent.


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