Last week Prime Minister Gordon Brown said about the election during the #leadersdebate that, “if it was all about style and PR, count me out.” The fact is that after his walkabout meeting with Rochdale pensioner Gillian Duffy it is PR, or lack of it, that highlights that he is stumbling along the election stump.
The chance encounter with Gillian Duffy was a meeting that Labour insiders were hoping for – a meeting with real and ordinary voters. The problem arose not during the robust questioning by Duffy, which in my opinion turned out positive, but how he perceived the meeting went. It was comments that he made in his car and which were picked up by a live microphone that might have derailed the Labour Party’s efforts during this general election.
Media channels and the online community on Twitter wasted no time in making the most out of the comments from a lady who at the end of his meeting with Brown described herself as a life-long Labour voter that would vote for the Prime Minister. After she heard the comments, he decision changed.
While PR gaffes like this do happen, in such situations they can be critical. It would be interesting to see how Gordon’s spin-doctors try to turn this around. I say this as Lord Mandelson is on the BBC News Channel giving his view on the event as part of a "damage limitation" exercise.
Of course, you can judge for yourself how he fared up and until he got in his car on the Channel 4 footage below.
UPDATE: News reaches us that after his BBC Radio 2 interview with Jeremy Vine, Brown jumped in the car and returned to Rochdale to apologise to Gillian Duffy. We should remember that after learning how Gillian had been described by the Prime Minister she said to journalists that she did not want to see or meet him again. That decision though has been taken away from her as Brown has been at her house for over 30 minutes.