One way and another, the media has played a far bigger part in this General Election campaign than any other in British history. Today's huge gaffe by Gordon Brown, calling Gillian Duffy, a lifelong Labour voter from Rochdale, Lancashire 'a bigoted woman' has the potential to totally destroy Labour's slim chances of winning on May 6th.
Mr Brown has not done well in the two leaders' debates to date. He has been notably the one leader who has argued, interrupted and tried to cut across the other two party leaders, and then called them bickering children. He has consistently said that this election is about substance and policies, not style, then comes today's outburst, not to mention previous accusations of bullying by Number 10 staff.
The Labour party have reportedly been responsible for leaflets being issued, telling the most outrageous lies about supposed policies that appear nowhere in either Conservative or Liberal Democrat manifestoes.
Only this week, Mr Brown said on a BBC Radio 4 programme that both the other parties planned to cut child tax credits as if this was a policy directed at the poorest in our society. I can find no reference to removing this benefit totally.
With regard to benefits, I would like to hear something very specific from Mr Clegg. The Labour party were at one time working with the mental health charity Mind, to improve the process by which people with mental health issues apply for E.S.A., the benefit that is gradually replacing Incapacity Benefit. Recently they have come out with a new application form which is even LESS likely to result in someone with depression or anxiety being granted benefit, and MORE likely to start a very expensive and long-winded appeals process. The Conservatives think that work is a cure for such ailments and intend to put everyone back on Job Seekers Allowance. See this link for Mind's reaction to the planned changes.
Mr Clegg, to finally win my vote for the Liberal Democrats, please tell me that you are going to scrap the Government quango ATOS and return the decision of whether or not a person is fit to work to the NHS staff like GP's and mental health professionals who you are already paying to determine the appropriate diagnosis and the appropriate treatment. By doing so, and granting benefit to claimants on the basis of a written agreement that they are unfit to work, you will cut the work of tribunal staff and save claimants months of stress and worry which is hardly good for their condition in the first place.
My GP referred to ATOS original decision that I was fit to work as 'talking out of their backsides' - except she replaced 'backside' with a word beginning with 'a'. The eventual outcome appears in previous posts.
Mr Brown's indiscretion today will be a very clear warning to all other candidates of all colours that they are being watched 24/7 by all forms of media, and that bad news spreads virally via Twitter, Facebook and other social media. However, what is more worrying is that Mr Brown's attitude that anyone with the view that immigration should be cut, is bigoted. What I would expect that to mean after the election is that immigration issues will be shuffled under the carpet and talked down as less important than other issues on the agenda of a new Government if Labour have any part in it. Actually, Mr Brown it isn't less important, and I don't think I need to elucidate why.
BBC Report on 'the Rochdale incident'.