Ten years on, Gordon Brown calling Gillian Duffy a 'bigot' is still diving opinion

Ten years on, Gordon Brown calling Gillian Duffy a 'bigot' is still diving opinion

Ten years ago the world was a very different place.

There wasn't a global pandemic keeping everyone indoors, social media was still mostly reserved to just Facebook, Brexit was just an idea, Donald Trump was still a TV personality, Barack Obama was in his first term as president, and Britain had a Labour government that had been in power since 1997.

However, the days of New Labour led by Tony Blair were a distant memory and opinion on the party had started to wain with the general public. Firstly with the British military involvement in the Iraq war and the response to the recession, which dominated the latter years of the 2000s.

Without Blair at the helm, who had resigned at the party conference in June 2007, it was left to Gordon Brown to steady the ship. Despite being chancellor of the exchequer for three ministries under Blair, it would be fair to say that Brown didn't quite galvanise the nation in the same way his predecessor did.

As the 2010 general election edged closer and with public opinion appearing to sway towards David Cameron's Tory party, Labour were going to have to do a lot to stop them losing the election (which they eventually did after the election resulted in a hung parliament and the Tories formed a coalition with the Lib Dems).

Now there are many reasons why Labour failed to a fourth election but one infamous moment contributed to Brown's downfall massively and, of all places, it happened in Rochdale, Greater Manchester.

While on the campaign trail in the town, Brown was confronted by a woman named Gillian Duffy, who expressed concerns amongst other things, about the influx of migrants to the area and the strain that the increased population was having on the local econony.

After an almighty back and forth between the pair, Brown was ushered into his car where he complained to his aide about the incident, with a microphone picking up this now immortal quote:

That was a disaster... should never have put me with that woman.

She was just a sort of bigoted woman who said she used to be Labour.

That short sentence would possibly be the first viral incident of a prime minister or party leader slipping up in public and it almost costing them in the long run. It's a fate that has befallen Theresa May, Ed Miliband and Boris Johnson but Brown was arguably the first in this modern age.

Ten years on social media has allowed thoughts and voices to flourish on politics and it's now possible that the divides are now bigger than ever before but with a decade removed have opinions changed?

Many seem of the opinion that if Brown had engaged with Duffy than the Tories would have never come to power and a lot of the last ten years could have been avoided (some of these statements might be more serious than others).

However, some have suggested that Labour would have lost the election anyway as polls and the direction of the party had started to lose public support.

Here is an account from BBC 5 Live producer, Henry Jones, who interviewed Brown on that fateful day.

Some feel that Duffy's comments were bigoted and that Brown was right to label her as such.

Sky News' Sophy Ridge, who interviewed Duffy five years ago, has a slightly different experience with her.

Here is probably the most incredible take on the issue, which comes from the infamous Brexiteer Darren Grimes, who claimed that the incident brought to an end the 'Oxbridge-class rule to a swift end' despite every PM and chancellor since then being educated at Oxford, while Brown was educated at Edinburgh.

Brown would go on to offer his profuse apology to Duffy after his comments were replayed to him during an interview with Jeremy Vine on BBC Radio 2 but it would appear that public opinion had already been set.

With all this into consideration, it's nice to know that one thing will always remain consistent in British politics; we can never agree on anything.

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