28 April 2010
When you derided political ambition in your hilarious Nigel Barton plays for the BBC, you anticipated what happened today, to our unfortunate Mr Brown.
Your character, Nigel Barton, a Labour Party political candidate, was faced with the dilemma of whether or not to court votes from labour “loyalists” that also happened to be bigots.
Nigel Barton was asked by a voter. “What are you going to do about the blacks?”
Naturally, if you are losing the popular vote and you are in danger of losing an election, you are more inclined to court the vote of a bigot rather than tell the bigot to go elsewhere and vote for the BNP or some other repugnant variant of nazi.
Gordon Brown chose to reason with Gillian Duffy, and was right to worry about potential bigotry that may or may not have motivated her question on the subject and her concern about immigration to Britain from the far reaches of Europe.
Mrs Monk has travelled rather further than that from America, and we are therefore acutely aware of this issue because of her status as an immigrant. Britons are frequently guilty of annoying casual xenophobic bigotry, which can at times be bizarrely unintended. Some of our best friends can express xenophobic comment about British Immigration, until I remind them that Mrs Monk is American. They might then of course be embarrassed and insist that they are not at all racist, and did not have Mrs Monk in mind when they complained about all those other foreigners.
Gordon Brown’s candid remarks are certainly commendable to the Monks, perhaps less so for his embarrassed smiley apology. Gordon Brown may well have had his Nigel Barton moment, but it is at least confirmed to me that he is a not a racist in public and is also not a racist in private.
Andrew Lawnsley today described Gillian Duffy’s casual xenophobiia as trivial, but he would say that because he has a dodgy anti- Brown book for sale, and thus promoted it as he sat next to Laura the inaappropriatly opionionated BBC Tory Girl tweeter whose misrepresention of the news on behalf of the BBC. has been recorded elsewhere on these pages.
The BBC has broadcast Gordon Brown’s private conversation and published it with excitable journalistic glee; an irresistible scoop. The story might have been that Gordon Brown abhors racists. However, the BBC ran the story as if Mrs Duffy’s casual public xenophobia was “reasonable”, and Gordon Brown’s empathic private condemnation and intolerance of racism should be derided.
Dear Dennis, what would you say?