The Right to Speak Freely.

By now, Gordon Brown’s critical comments about a Manchester voter and Labour supporter have been spread far and wide across the internet – read, written about, recorded, edited, tweeted, re-tweeted and all the rest. So I suppose in some ways I am just adding to the excessive amounts of coverage and commentary.

I do feel it’s important, though, to reflect on the incident in Rochdale earlier today – there are many of us doing everything we can to restore the public’s faith in politicians and in the political system, and incidents like this one really do set us back.

More than anything else, I feel strongly that Gillian Duffy should have been able to express her views and question the Prime Minister on the things that matter to her, without being described as bigoted.

It is crucial for any functioning, effective democracy that people have the right to express themselves and be heard.

No politician should ever forget the fact that we exist to represent the public – this is the only thing that matters.

Mrs. Duffy has described herself as feeling “very disappointed” at Gordon’s comments, and I’m told he has since apologised personally. This is definitely welcome. I just hope that Gillian and voters everywhere aren’t put off by incidents like this – it’s up to the public to decide who they want to put their faith in on May 6 and I hope they continue to recognise the power of their vote.

12 responses to “The Right to Speak Freely.

  1. Bit rich coming from you John Boy remember this reply and I quote:

    I would be happy to respond to any constituent who contacts me and does not hide behind this anonymous front for the BNP
    Kind regards
    John Leech

    This after being “Cromwelled”. Oh the sweet irony 🙂

  2. There are many reasons to dislike Gordon Brown which are understandable, but as a reason this one is unfair. It’s all very easy for his critics and opponents to say, ‘oh yes this is terrible’, but I’m sure all politicians, like us mere mortals, say ugly things privately which wouldn’t reflect well on their character if made public. It is especially forgivable in light of the high pressure of the campaign trail, and the fact her views could easily be construed as bigoted.

    His opponents should put their hands up and admit that they’ve probably said things they wouldn’t want to be made public, or they should at least keep quiet so as not look hypocritical if their own gaffes are ever so unfortunately caught and recorded.

    Condemn Gordon Brown for his policies and his actions as Prime Minister, but don’t be so short sighted as to condemn him for a slip of the tongue.

    • I think it is quite right to condemn Gordon Brown for his policies. Under his Chancellorship national debt rose and we built up a structural deficit. If we can cast off this part of the deficit by 2015, up to half the national debt will be accounted for by Brown’s mistakes and less than a fifth from the financial crisis / bailing the banks. (The rest is the historical debt)

  3. Indeed she has every right to speak freely. By the same measure Gordon Brown is free to consider her views on migration (all quite legitimate) from Eastern European EU States as bigoted. I know that I do. Frankly I find your stance on this to be a little offensive and, dare I say, bigoted. Please leave such grandiose moralising to the gutter press that is News International which is surely where it belongs.

  4. That is more than a little sententious / faux moralising of you, John, at least in my opinion . I think Sadie Birks and (especially) Stephen Connell have it right.

    First off, people in Brown’s position (and yours, of course, but more so for the leaders) are under tremendous pressure. Does a single “off-camera” moment of letting off steam tell us anything? It tells us that politicians… let off steam. Colour me unsurprised. Does anyone really think the other party leaders (or other politicians) are different? They are, after all, human. Allegedly.

    Secondly, as Stephen says, Mrs D has a right to her opinion. And Gordo has a right to his about hers.

    The only thing I would fault Brown on was not answering her and explaining why he thought she was wrong about East European migrants. That she did have a right to expect.

  5. John

    This is a good article and very current. I am quite impressed at the way you have manipulated this to your own means.
    I wish you would debate on current issues with my good self because up to now you have not been tested.
    I think that this may be the last time you get away with not debating

  6. No-one should have to tread on eggshells to discuss their concerns about immigration.

    New Labour have relied on this to quell criticism of their handling (or not handling) of these matters and instead let ire be focussed on the immigrants themselves in the eyes of many.

    Handled under a competent, compassionate government, this issue would take a more palatable tone over time.

  7. I agree with free speech. Unfortunately the great majority of politicians at national and local level choose to speak behind the backs of any constituent. There is unfortunately a big yellow streak running down the spine of politicians, this is just the latest example.

  8. John Boy thanks for re-instating my previous comment. Now for the next thing. Your website is designed etc by Prater Raines. Having gone through your expenses it seems the taxpayer funds this, therefore as far as I am aware your site has to be frozen and may not be used for campaigning. I may stand corrected but nevertheless I’ve asked Chris Sears to look into it anyway. We couldn’t have you breaking them rules now could we 😉

  9. John, John, John. You know very well that’s a lie. Those of you visiting this post and it’s comments please go back to the main website scroll to the bottom of the page. See what the name of the company is that develops the website. Parter Raines. Now browse to here:

    That’s a copy of an expense claim you put in in 2004/2005 without an invoice. Surely it should have gone into your communications allowance?

    Luckily a little later in your life as an MP you claimed again and there’s actually an invoice that breaks down exactly what the taxpayer paid Parter Raines for. All taken from And I will be adding that to my blog post later old chap!

    Surely they can’t be lying? Never been paid for by the taxpayer? Pah!

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