Gillian Duffy and bigotgate.

April 30, 2010

Paul Waugh, wrote an interesting piece in The Standard, about Gillian Duffy. Like Paul Waugh, I am local to Rochdale. I lived on Kirkholt and Queensway when I was a kid. He said what I wanted to say. The ‘concern’ about benefits/immigrants round here is common.

It’s not borne of bigotry. This area has changed, the industries which formed the backbone of towns like Rochdale, Todmorden, and Hebden Bridge, have dissapeared. These are towns which really have been left behind since Thatcher, and the people you will hear worrying about immigrants are very rarely affected by immigration-but who else do you look to, when you feel you have been abandoned? Especially when there are dozens of articles a day, telling you it is the fault of ‘forriners’?

Gillian Duffy was no more a bigot than my old next door neighbour, than the woman on the bus telling me that the Poles are killing Calderdale-but the nice polish man who does her windows is alright.

She no more deserved to have her name in the national press under the word bigot, than Gordon Brown deserved to have his private conversation recorded.

The benefits/immigration patter which underpins any debate about immigration in this country, is toxic.

Gillian Duffy didn’t start it, and like so many of the people round here who repeat it- she has been fed it  for years.  The press who recorded Browns conversation and played it to her, did not have her welfare at heart. Neither did the press who used her comment to ‘prove’ that their bigoted agenda is ok. The people who held her up as an example of hatred and prejudice – were looking at the wrong culprits.

Gillian Duffy just turned down a great deal of money from Murdoch’s right wing press who were determined to make her a symbol of their bigotry, and a whipping stick for Gordon Brown. The money she turned down was lifechanging money.

That says something. I don’t care which side of the fence you sit on. She and her family have dealt with this, with dignity and grace. Which is more than you can say for the shitrags that sought to exploit her.



  1. Brilliant commentary, I couldn’t agree more.

  2. shitrags….I like it 🙂

  3. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by andyvglnt, samuel abelman, samuel abelman, Adrian Melrose, Iain Murray and others. Iain Murray said: RT @Lisaansell: https://deeplyflawedbuttrying.wordpress.com/2010/04/30/gillian-duffy-and-bigotgate/ Gillian Duffy. […]

  4. You say that “the people you will hear worrying about immigrants are very rarely affected by immigration”. Well, what about places like Blackburn, Burnley, Oldham, as well as Barking? You’re right, the cotton towns were destroyed by the adoption of ruthless, neo-liberal, free-market policies by successive govts from Thatcher on – New Labour continued it in all essential aspects, but do it with a velvet glove instead of an iron fist. In addition, they have used mass immigration as a part of that commitment to globalisation – to keep wages low and to alter the ethnic make-up of the country – for both ideological (ie, multiculturalism) and pragmatic (ie, most immigrants vote Labour). The remarks of the woman on the bus are not contradictory, as you imply – one can believe that an influx of large numbers of people with a foreign culture & language will fundamental change the character of an area, while at the same time recognising that an individual Pole is a pleasant person. The point is, Calderdale is not, according to this woman, being “killed” by one Polish person. Can’t you see the difference? Personally, I am very glad that traditional Labour supporters have been given a glimpse into how the metropolitan Labour elite really regard them and their concerns for the way their towns are being changed – and without the population ever being asked whether it WANTED these changes, especially over such a short time-span.

    • YOu got all that from what she asked? She asked ‘where are these eastern europeans flocking from’ in the context of a question about benefits.

      THere aren’t, to the best of my knowledge, and I go through a couple of times a week- large communities of eastern europeans claiming benefits in Rochdale. Although there are large headlines about eastern europeans flocking here for benefits in the daily mail most days.

      I grew up in Rochdale, and by the time I was there the asian kids I was at school with were the children and grandchildren of immigrants- that was 20 years ago. Yes Rochdales character has changed over the years, and yes immigration is part of it- but its not an influx – there has been a visible british/pakistani community in Rochdale for 2 or 3 generations.

      You are right in that industry has declined, and you are right that that decline coincided with the establishment of the asiancommunity, but how many generations do people have to be part of Rochdales community before they are accepted as British?

      Luckily for Rochdale- a thriving asian business community has replaced SOME of the industry which died underThatcher. Poles are not killing Calderdale, and Eastern Europeans are not killing Rochdale. I don’t think you can blame immigration because not much else has replaced industry here. Yuo certainly can’t blame it for the high levels of immigration.

      I didn’t say she was a bigot= but the comment she made= in the context of the town she lives in wasn’t a reflection of a genuine issue of floods of eastern europeans= if you are talking about the pakistani community- I think 2 or 3 generations is enough to say they are no longer an immigrant community.

      And actually regardless of the minutae of our discussion of her comment. Gordon Brown was at the end of a days meet and greet, had spent time dealing with questions from her, and was in his car, having a private conversation. I have never worked in a social work office, civil service office, or police station, where the public would have liked what they heard when staff were on their own. The recordings after a call centre operative has hung up, and the client cant hear are legendary.

      And somehow I don’t think that playing that tape live on air, playing it on Gillian Duffys front door step= and then splashing her across the headlines whipping up moral hysteria=was done with her welfare in mind. Fuunnily enough, that was the same newspapers who do spew this bile out- they are the ones who claimed her question for their own. And they are, without doubt pushing an overtly and demonstrably racist agenda.

      And as I said in the post- I think Gillian Duffy, and her family have acted with absolute grace through this ridiculous affair. I don’t think the political pointscoring and media coverage over this has been genuinely about immigration, or concern for her.

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