Gordon Brown has almost certainly blown his chances (slim though they were) in the general election in what has already been called 'Bigotgate'.
The facts are simple. He was out meeting the people in the marginal constituency of Rochdale. He got into a conversation with a senior lady who has been a long-term Labor supporter. She questioned him about taxation, benefits, education and immigration.
Of course, he didn't answer her questions but parroted responses from the Peter Mandelson phrase book reacting to key words with an instinctive motif. When he got back to his car he complained that he had been set up with her and blamed one of his female aides. He then called the old woman a bigot.
What he didn't remember was that at his own party's request he had been miked up for the encounter and the mike was still switched on.
Later, he was confronted on air with his remarks. He blustered. Then he altered his itinerary to call at the woman's house to make a grovelling apology.
The whole episode has demonstrated how out of touch he is with ordinary voters. If the woman was bigoted then so are three-quarters of the population. It showed him to be a bully, picking on a female aide. Journalists have been telling us this for weeks, but not everybody has been convinced. It showed him to be maladroit, to have poor judgement in going back to apologise (the damage was done and any apology would sound insincere) and to lack the sure-footedness that a prime minister needs.
Gordon Brown was never elected prime minister; he inherited the job from Tony Blair. It is plain to see why Blair led the party at his expense. Even in 1997 had he been leader, Labour would never have been elected.