“We must stop meeting like this”
A year after being called a ‘bigoted woman’ by Gordon Brown and dealing a massive blow to Labour’s reelection chances Gillian Duffy faced off with Nick Clegg yesterday.
Rochdale is a long way from Westminster yet it seems Mrs Duffy cant walk to the shops without bumping into the leader of a political party. Of course, it helps that she was driven there by a local Labour party activist in a scheme dreamed up by local Labour MP Simon Danczuk who, one suspects, can expect a telling off from Ed Miliband, admittedly not a terrifying prospect.
Why so? Well, as wheezes go this one backfired badly. Whereas Brown was unpleasant and anti social and didn’t like people very much, Nick Clegg is quite a nice chap and was perfectly polite to Ms Duffy, even if calling her ‘Gillian’ was a bit over familiar. When faced with a woman of clearly limited intelligence who insisted on asking him the same question he’d just answered, Clegg showed admirable coolness in the face of a pretty obvious set up. Still, with the practice he’s had you’d expect him to be cool under fire.
But something of interest emerged from the meeting and that was Labour’s attitude towards Mrs Duffy and people like her. The lesson of ‘Bigotgate’ was that the Labour party is run by people who don’t like Labour voters very much. The open door immigration policy operated by the last Labour government was, no doubt, a boon for the likes of husband and wife Ed Balls and Yvette Cooper who could get a nanny on the cheap. And besides, how many immigrants could afford to live in Highgate? Surely, as they looked out of their bedroom at their neighbours million pound houses, they wondered what all the ‘immigration’ fuss was about.
It was rather different for the low paid people who traditionally make up Labour’s support. They faced competition for low skilled jobs and saw stagnant wages as a result. They saw their public services stretched to breaking point. They saw their communities change beyond recognition. And when Mrs Duffy dared to question the leader of the workingman’s party about all this she was called ‘bigoted’.
And Labour haven’t changed. When David Cameron made a perfectly sensible speech on the failure of ‘state multiculturalism’ Sadiq Khan popped up to accuse him of “writing propaganda for the EDL”. When the coalition put forward the well intentioned but probably ineffectual immigration cap, Labour suggested sticking to their failed old policy.
For all the schmoozing of Mrs Duffy Labour have been doing it is all totally false. They don’t care about her issues and they probably think she is a nutcase. Using her for the failed ambush of Clegg is a low and cynical political stunt.