Branded a bigot: who is Gillian Duffy?
Events, dear boy? When Brown met Duffy
He was prepared for Cameron and Clegg, but Gordon Brown has been caught out by a grandmother from Rochdale. But who is Gillian Duffy? Who Knows Who investigates. Comment from Rory Bremner.
"Events, dear boy, events..."
The response from Harold Macmillan, a Conservative prime minister, when asked by a journalist what is most likely to blow governments off course.
Gordon Brown must be accutely aware of the quote - and never more so than today.
The latest "event" has certainly caused the PM's campaign to veer into difficult territory (from Rochdale to Manchester and back to Rochdale via every headline and news bulletin in the land).
It came in the shape of 65-year-old grandmother Gillian Duffy.
She is the woman labelled a "bigot" by Brown, following a campaign walkabout.
The pensioner's conversation with the prime minister occurred by chance as she walked in the area where his campaign entourage had stopped.
Brown's day of drama began when the issue of immigration was raised.
Duffy told the PM: "You can't say anything about the immigrants... but all these eastern Europeans coming in, where are they flocking from?"
Brown responded: "A million people come in from Europe, but a million British people have gone into Europe, you do know there's a lot of British people staying in Europe as well."
Mrs Duffy, a widow, also told the PM: "My father, even when he was in his teens went to free trade hall to sing the red flag and now I'm absolutely ashamed of saying I'm Labour."
It was this exchange which led to Brown, minutes later, to brand her "bigoted" in the back of his ministerial car - while still wearing a microphone.
He was heard saying: "You should never have put me with that woman. Whose idea was that? Sue's I think.
"Everything she said - she's just a bigoted woman."
It is understood that "Sue" is Brown's special adviser Sue Nye.
Gillian Duffy retired nine years ago, having worked for Rochdale Council for 30 years - from 19 October 1971 to 21 November 2001.
A council spokesman has confirmed Duffy worked for social services as an escort for disabled children.
Her husband died of cancer four years ago. Earlier she told reporters she has a daughter and two grandchildren and made it clear hers was a "Labour" family.
But Mrs Duffy has since said she will no longer be supporting Brown's party. The PM's personal apology hours later does not appear to have changed her mind.
Her niece Andrea MacDermott told Channel 4 News: "The word 'bigot' is a very strong word. My opinion is, I hope she didn’t accept his apology."
While the nationwide impact of "bigotgate" is not yet known, it probably means one less vote for Labour's Rochdale candidate, Simon Danczuk.
The prospective candidate is no stranger to controversy himself. Danczuk has been embroiled in a local Labour party row for months, following allegations about his private life which he has denied.
Mrs Duffy may decide Liberal Democrat candidate Paul Rowen deserves her backing.
Her other options are Conservative Mudasir Dean, Carl Faulkner for Veritas, Colin Denby for Ukip, Mohammed Salim for Islam Zinda Baad Platform, indepedent John Whitehead and National Front candidate Chris Jackson.
Intriguingly for Labour's spin machine, Brown's visit to Rochdale is one of the only times so far the prime minister has been out on the campaign trail without his wife Sarah Brown. That's Sarah, the public relations expert.
The Rochdale incident
Who Knows Who election guest editor Rory Bremner writes -
Oh dear. One slip and Gordon's stock is further downgraded, to junk status, somewhere below Greece and Spain but above Goldman Sachs.
I didn't see the incident, but according to various tabloid reports the PM chased a pensioner down the street before wrestling her to the ground and ripping off her head.
Microphones later caught him referring to her as "that big-hearted woman". Poor Gordon. Poor Mrs Duffy. I blame Sue. What was she thinking of?
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Who are we talking about?
Prime minister 2007-2010
Labour MP for Kirkcaldy and Cowdenbeath, Gordon Brown became prime minister in 2007 after 10 years as chancellor.Connections: 85 (See map)
Council worker Gillian Duffy spoke to Gordon Brown during a campaign visit to Rochdale. Brown was later heard calling her "a bigot" - his microphone had been left on.Connections: 5 (See map)
Former British prime minister
Macmillan (1894-1986) was Conservative PM between 1957 and 1963. He famously told a reporter the issues which blow governments off course are "events, dear boy, events".Connections: 1 (See map)