Gordon Brown described a female member of the electorate as a "bigot" today. He made the comments as he was driving away in his car from a meet and greet in Rochdale. Unfortunately for him
The most surprising thing about the encounter as far as I can tell is the change in tone from 10 seconds earlier when he was very smiley and jolly. You actually see him happily saying goodbye in the clip linked to above, and then as soon as he thinks he is out of mic range his demeanour completely changes. The encounter itself seemed pretty good natured and although the woman concerned, Gillian Duffy did press the PM on immigration and debt he had actually managed to turn the situation around and ended up asking about her grandchildren. Also, she is (was) a Labour voter and said so which appeared to please him.
This incident is being dismissed by some Labour bloggers and tweeters as insignificant but I think it will have a lasting impact.
The rapid switch in tone so starkly reveals the disparity between how he tries to portray himself in public and his actual persona. This underlines all those stories about thrown Nokias and him supposedly shouting and bullying people. It will make people more likely to believe them as we have seen a little window into his private world.
It also seems totally out of proportion. It's not like he had just come away from someone questioning him very harshly or belligerently. It was just an elderly lady who was perfectly polite. His response seems inexplicable frankly.
We are entering the last week of the campaign. This will distract from the sort of things that Gordon Brown wants to focus on as we get towards 6th May. Instead he is yet again faced with questions about his character and personality.
The worst thing is that the Labour Party have had years to change their leader. People close to Brown must have known something like this was possible and it has happened in a dreadful way at one of the worst possible moments.
They will not be able to spin their way out of this and I expect Labour's polling numbers will take a hit in the next day or two because of this.