Is it the duplicity – the contrast between Gordon Brown’s public persona and the thin-skinned, irritable, snarling inner self?
Is it the haughtiness – the PM’s dismissal of views that conflict with those of the bien-pensant elite as ignorant prejudice?
Is it the issue itself – proof that, for all its anti-immigration rhetoric, Labour looks down on people who want tougher border controls?
Is it the sheer rudeness – the Coriolanus-like contempt for the opinions of hoi polloi (or do I mean the των πολλων opinions)?
I think it’s something worse than any of these. Gordon Brown has evinced the single ugliest feature of the Left, namely its belief that opposed views are morally, rather than intellectually, mistaken. You want to cut taxes? You hate the poor! You believe in national parliamentary democracy? You xenophobe! You think that we should determine for ourselves the number of settlers who come to Britain each year? You bigoted woman!
Tania Kindersley, via I don’t remember whom… Twitter probably:
The thing about the stickability of gaffes is that they have to feed into an already existing narrative. If some national treasure like Joanna Lumley described someone as bigoted, we would all assume that she had a keen ear for prejudice. When the Prime Minister hurls that word around, especially after saying ‘good family’, it confirms the lurking suspicion that he really does not like us voters very much. It illustrates the difference between public, smiling, politicking Gordon, and private, growling, telephone-throwing Gordon. It fits the pattern that, in his eyes, when someone challenges him, they are not only wrong, but bad.
The Only Human defence is not helping. It would be much better to say: it was wrong, he regrets it, he has apologised, now do let us move on to our plans for giving every single ordinary hard-working Briton a puppy. …
The curious thing about all this is it almost makes me feel sorry for Gordon Brown. I stick by my analysis. I think he is enraged, entitled, and unable to admit to his own flaws. I think he has made catastrophic mistakes with the economy, and I get madly grumpy that he will not face them. I wish he would stop doing that weird phoney mad uncle smile. I wish he had not sold gold at rock bottom prices. I wish he was not running a once proud party into the ground. I wish he did not have an unattractive tendency to blame the people around him for things which are his fault. I hold him culpable for the lack of kit and helicopters in Afghanistan. But after all that, he is still a human being. Mrs Brown, whom everyone says is very nice, loves him. He has two small boys who must see him not as failed leader, but good old dad. He is not running around selling crack to minors and drowning kittens with his bare hands. He is not evil. There is a tiny edge of the pitiful in watching him flail about, unable to get anything right. I take no pleasure in his downfall. I do, however, think it is complete.
As Janice Turner said to India Knight on Twitter yesterday,
He must, at heart, just wish it was all over. I can’t bear to watch the news. He is poor wounded, knackered old circus bear.